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fm1798

“Mount your own antlers!”

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How to Make a European-Style Antler Skull Mount The stars aligned this fall! We put our trial cameras out around June 1st. We left them for two months before checking. We went out earlier in the day and switched-out the USB cards. We returned to the cabin with all eyes glued to the television, as if it where Superbowl Sunday! The sound of holing and hooting soon echoed from our screened-in excitement, as the pictures begin to show what was leaving tracks in our woods! A nice 8-pointer! Not necessarily big enough to head and shoulder mount, but a nice antler mount.

From that day forward, we worked our food plots and spread DEER CAIN, hoping that this dandy-of-a buck wood stick around for fall hunting season.

Sure enough! A half-hour after sunrise this same buck walks within 30 feet of my stand. All are hard work paid off! The hunt doesn’t start on opening day. It starts many months before you hear that first shot!

I called around to see how much it would cost to mount the skull and antlers. Many taxidermist charge around $125 to $150. After researching the web and watching several YouTube videos, I felt comfortable I could tackle this myself.

fm1799Below are my instructions to easily mount the deer head and celebrate the fall harvest with an European-Style Antlers with Skull Mount:

What you will need:

  • Large Pot
  • Powdered Borax
  • Dawn Liquid Dish Washing Soap
  • High-Pressure Washer (Borrow one if you have too!)
  • Board to mount skull (I bought mine from McKenzie Taxidermy Supply)
  • Drywall Anchor to hold the skull to the mounting plate

Instructions:

  1. Remove hide, eyes, nose from skull
  2. Fill and heat a large pot of water (This is very stinky and I recommend doing the cooking outside)
  3. Add a small amount of dish washing detergent and 1-cup of Borax
  4. Bring the water to a very slow rolling boil (Important, otherwise you may lose bone and cartilage)
  5. Do NOT let the antlers rest below the water line. They will become white like the skull if you do! The base of my antlers got a little white, which may happen to you. I used brown shoe polish to hide the discoloration
  6. Slow-boil for 1-hour and dump the water. This first batch of water will be greasy from the meat and brain cooking off the bone
  7. See what you can pull off
  8. Continue to fill the pot and bring to slow boil (adding 1-cup borax and a small amount of liquid detergent)
  9. Soon, the meat will begin to fall of the bone. Use a knife to cut and remove as much as you can
  10. I went through the ear canal with a piece of electrical wire to help breakup the brain
  11. Now comes the fun part! Use a high-pressure washer to remove most of the brain matter and meat tissue. Try not to spray in one spot or to close because nose and teeth bone are delicate
  12. Continue to spray with the pressure washer and/or cook until all meat is removed

fml800It took me a total of 4-hours to complete. You may lose part of the nose cavity. The bones of the nose are very delicate. Simply, glue them on once everything dries.

The next day, I wrapped the antlers with blue painters tape and sprayed the skull with Matte Acrylic Clear Spray to preserve and protect.

I drilled a hole underneath the skull and recessed the head of a Drywall Anchor Bolt through the back of a Walnut Mounting Board. The skull provides easy access where the spine meets the head. Use a Drywall Anchor that expands and tighten against the mounting board.

That’s it!

Fat Man’s Landing, MN

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“Ten-Point Buck Antler Shed.”

While searching for Morel mushrooms, I found this antler shed from a ten-point buck. I don’t know who was more surprised, while walking only a few more steps, I could see a large deer running with a doe. Could this be the buck that lost this antler? As I continued my search for Morels, I spotted turkeys, coyotes, owls and Wood Ducks.

Fat Man’s Landing, MN

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Fawn birth (Late spring/early summer)
Most fawns are born by the last week in May — into the first week or two of June. There are always early-birds and late bloomers. The key here is the abundance of forage for does to consume and produce milk and ultimately — a healthy fawn.

Fawn nursing (Summer)
Fawns begin nursing immediately and continue to nurse throughout the warmer months. Most fawns are completely weened by September. Every now and then you may notice a fawn during the fall trying to nurse, but adult does normally aren’t very receptive and the fawns are able to digest forage by September.

Antler growth (Begins in early summer)
You can start seeing the beginnings of the racks by mid June. By the end of July it’s much easier to see what the buck will likely be (main frame 8-pointer, 10-pointer, etc.) by late August the rack is basically fully grown.

Shedding Velvet (Early fall)
Most velvet sheds in early September. In all the years I’ve hunted, photographed and filmed whitetails, it seems the antler shedding may begin as early as the last week of August, but the bulk occurs the first week of September. By mid September (normally opening day of bow season) the majority of bucks have shed their velvet. Every now and then you may see a buck with velvet but consider it fairly uncommon.

Losing spots/coat change
(Early Fall)
Most fawns shed their spots the first couple weeks into September. Adult deer are also transitioning from their orange-colored summer coats into their thicker, darker fall coats. The transition can occur anywhere from late August into early September. However by mid September most coat changes are complete.

Bachelor group dispersal
(Late summer/very early fall)
Deer begin to get more independent in August. Most buck groups disband by the last week of August to first week of September.

Deer Rubs (Fall)
Aside from velvet shedding rubs, the first rut-related rubs of the season begin to pop up around the 15th of October and increase into the end of the month. Rubs are continually made, visited and refreshed throughout November, with varying degree of activity due to rut phases and conditions.

Deer Scrapes (Fall)
Typically linked in occurrence to rubs, these markers begin to pop up the last couple weeks in October and can increase in frequency into November. In the areas that I hunt in Northern Minnesota, I almost always find the season’s first rubs before I find scrapes.

Main Deer Rut Phases (Late fall)
These can vary every year depending on different factors such as deer density, buck to doe ratio, weather, moon phase timing and hunting pressure but overall the days and occurrences are normally very close from season to season.

Seeking Phase
(Late October – early November)
Chasing Phase
(Early November – mid November)

Breeding Phase
(Mid November – late November)
can even last into December, sometimes with a large deer heard and abundance of food, a second, less aggressive rut takes place. Often young does are bred during this time.

It’s also important to note here that when an adult doe reaches estrous, it lasts for around 36 hours while the entire breeding phase of the rut can last for many days given the fact that more than one doe enters estrous.

Key back in on food sources
(Late November/into winter)
Can depend on region and weather. Normally deer focus heavily on food sources after the rut into winter and really hit the food hard after the first major drop in temperatures and/or first major snowfall. In northern Minnesota most deer begin to consistently focusing on food sources by the first two weeks of December. This behavior continues throughout winter, as food becomes the main drive. When it comes to late season hunting the way to a buck is through his stomach!

Shed antlers (January/February)
Can depend on climate and availability of food. Sometimes bucks lose their antlers as early as late December and I’ve even watched deer keep their headgear into late March. This is not common however and the majority of antlers are shed mid to late January into February.

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