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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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A Star-of-a-buck in Starbuck, Minnesota.

Whether it’s “First blood gets the deer” or “The person who makes the killing shot?” In either case, it’s not an easy answer.

My friend hunts private property near Starbuck, MN. He usually hunts a fence line dividing two fields. On this day, the neighbors were hunting close by, so he decided to hunt the adjacent woods. From his stand he heard a shot and watched as the neighbors drag a doe to their vehicle. While watching the hunters, a massive buck moving slowly, through tall switchgrass, caught his eye! The deer was between my friend and the other hunters. As the deer moved passed the other hunters, a safe shot presented itself. He took the shot and the deer dropped! You can imagine how excited he was! He yelled from his stand, “I have a big buck down!” The other hunters walk in his direction as my friend climbed down from his stand. The hunters and my friend walked towards the deer from opposite sides — at 30-yards the deer gets up and starts to run. A hunter from the other party shoots and hits the spine — killing the deer.

The Loaded Question?
Later inspection, my friend had hit the deer in the hind quarter. It was a deer of a lifetime! A huge 11-point buck worthy of a wall mount!

As everyone stood around the deer, the question came up, “So who’s deer is it anyways?” The hunter who shot the second time felt it was his deer. My friend feels that if he had not called the others over — that he would have had a second shot.  In the end, my friend decided it wasn’t worth arguing over and walked away the better man.

So what do you think? Please share your thoughts.

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Innate vs. learned

The basic relationship between predator vs. prey is well-known. There are laws of nature that we not only embrace, but take an active role in. This begs the question of some as to whether our hunting/gathering instincts and behaviors are innate or learned. I whole heartedly believe that it is innate.  Now, I won’t argue with someone who testifies that certain behaviors can be learned or introduced and then further explored and fine tuned. There’s no doubt of that, but If you look at every single living organism on the planet, everything from an ant to an elephant, the shortest blade of grass to the tallest tree, and even bacteria, in and around us, along with all microscopic living organisms, our most basic purpose is the same and that is — to survive. I don’t care what living organism we’re talking about, we all inhibit the basic will and termination to exist. (more…)

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A battle with frostbite and big deer leave this bow hunter numb.

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If you’re a deer hunter, you know there is no better time of the year to be in the woods than during the rut! It’s that magical time of the year that fills deer hunters’ dreams, that vacation time is scheduled around and when family and good friends join together in shacks, cabins and family farms to share in the camaraderie, tradition and excitement that is deer hunting! There are a number of factors that determine the rut and can influence its three main phases. Year after year however, one aspect remains the same — it is the most action packed, explosive time to be in the woods! Not to mention the days encompassing the rut can be a hunter’s best chance at connecting with a big, weary but wise whitetail! (more…)

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My friend just posted this buck and doe in Northern Minnesota. His camera caught these two at 1:45 a.m.!

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Food Plots: What you can plant now for a great fall plot!

Food plots are a great way to improve property and to grow and hold more wildlife. By providing precious nutrients, and attracting a wide range of critters, food plots can be enjoyed by hunters and all nature enthusiasts alike!

Often grown to attract, and hold deer, different plots may be utilized by wild turkey, waterfowl, upland birds and other wildlife as well. By growing food plots we can provide animals like deer with the nutrients most beneficial to them specific for any given time of year. In short, this means we can tailor our plots for our herd’s specific needs. We can provide them with valuable protein during the growing stages of spring and summer, vital for body and antler growth as well as lactation and healthy fawn development.

Of course we can also plant things that will provide deer with the much-needed energy, carbohydrates and protein it takes to recover from the rut in the late fall into winter. So whether you’re trying to develop a healthier wildlife population, or create a hunting hot spot (or both), now is the time to plant for a great fall plot!

There are so many choices when it comes to choosing what to grow in your food plots, that if you’re new to the process it can be a bit overwhelming. Food plots really are a labor of love, and if you just take a little time before hand to do some research, you can save yourself a lot of frustration later.

Important Considerations:

  • Region and climate
  • Soil type – What to plant
  • Size
  • Goals
  • Equipment

Once these considerations are made, the best bet may vary from person-to-person, region-to-region. In my area of Northeastern Minnesota, as well as the upper Midwest the period of time from late August to mid September is the time to plant for fall plots. (more…)

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