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Thread: Cleaning a deer head

  1. #1
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    Cleaning a deer head

    Oh man...I got my first ever deer on the 18th. Cleaned it last week and have had the head in the freezer since. My 5 year old wants the head on the wall. I began simmering it at 5 pm today, outside. At first I didnt think it smelled too bad...kind of like clams or steamers...now its totally grossing me out. Somehow Im gonna get through it...but never again.

    Im thinking about taking it out and putting it in my compost pile tomorrow. Does anyone think that will work?

    Beetles from now on.



  2. #2
    Forget the beetle lore.

    You need to boil the head about six to eight hours depending on how much tissue you left on it in the beginning. Add water to your pot as it boils off. After that, a wire brush should remove what little tissue is left. Don't forget to remove the brain which will be about the size of a golf ball when "cooked". There is a large hole at the base of the skull for foreceps or wire.

    Next, soak the head for about two days in equal amounts of water and hydrogen peroxide. If the mixture gets on the antler base, use light wood stain to return the antler color.

    The smell will not be so strong after the tissue is cooked off.

    Time to Man-up and gut your way through it. The worst is over.

    BowAg

  3. #3
    Beetle lore?? Beetles are the only way. You can't get the results from boiling that you do with the beetles.
    ASK NOT WHAT BOILS IN ANOTHER MANS POT!!

  4. #4
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    At 180f bone starts to break down. The skull will be brittle and pours . That is the main reason not to boil Oh, and skull pulling apart.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by BEETLE GUY View Post
    At 180f bone starts to break down. The skull will be brittle and pours . That is the main reason not to boil Oh, and skull pulling apart.
    There are other ways to do it that works as well as beetles.

  6. #6
    I know guys that lay the heads on a red ant bed under a barrell for about 2 weeks.


    I boiled mine and it came out fine.

  7. #7
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    hot water

    Use hot water and oxyclean. Don't boil just simmer. Oxyclean does the trick.


    here's how it'll look with a little extra white kilz.

    I said boil in the below post but simmer is more like it. Just a few random bubbles from time to time. Not a rolling boil like you would cook macaroni.....

    http://www.archerytalk.com/vb/showthread.php?t=796214
    Last edited by Ohio_archer; December 5th, 2008 at 11:25 PM.
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  8. #8
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    I simmered two this year with Dawn and soda they came out great.
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  9. #9
    Deer head recipie:

    Skin the head, place bent coathanger in skull through foramen magnum (the big hole) puree the brain with a cordless drill, rinse out with a hose. SIMMER the head, not boil in pot until the meat falls off it easily. Before simmering, I added detergent to the water along with baking soda. The detergent will help cut grease & fat from the skull, the baking soda just seemed like a good idea! Remove as much meat as you can after simmering. Anything stubborn will come off easily at the local coin operated car wash! Dont place the pressure nozzle real close, it will blast your skull apart. Test it to see the distance that works the best. Hit it with spot free rinse, go home and have a bowl of soup from the pot! I did this,(minus the soup) it worked great & smelled terrible!
    Do not use an air compressor to remove the scambled brain! A friend did this, he didn't think it was nearly as funny as I did! Good luck

  10. #10
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    A good sharp Gouge works well in scraping the fat and grissle and gets in the round areas.
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  11. #11
    Ive only done one but it came out great...well, except the rack got a little sunbleached.

    1. Skin the skull
    2. Wrap the rack with tin foil and plastic wrap(too protect from sun and maggot puke)
    3. Put the skull in a 5gal bucket filled with water to the rack line. Prop the rack up so as much of the skull as possible is under water.
    4. Just let it soak for a few weeks
    5. Tip the bucket over in the yard and spray the head with a hose on full blast...or a powerwasher.

    Repeat steps 3-5 until its clean. Then pour peroxide over the skull and let the teeth sit in the run off. Remove tin foil and plastic wrap. Done!

    The only tough thing is finding a good/safe spot to put the 5gal bucket cus theres a 3-4 week period when it stinks like death. The best time to do this is in the spring/summer when flies and other flesh eating crap thrive.

    If you have a spot to let it soak and rot, this is a real easy way to do a euro imo.

  12. #12
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    I have done some in the past. I boiled them and then picked the meat off. Problem was the lower portion where the nose is fell apart.
    This yr I have done 3. I put them on the stove with the element set to 4. I take it out every now and again and rinse under the tap to get meat off. THEN I got the idea to bring the heads to a car wash with a good pressure washer. In 2 minutes per skull (after the stove top) they were clean as a whistle. Put the nozzle of the pressure washer in the brain stem and spray. Brain comes right out....... where old pants though as it flies everywhere
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sandilands View Post
    I have done some in the past. I boiled them and then picked the meat off. Problem was the lower portion where the nose is fell apart.
    This yr I have done 3. I put them on the stove with the element set to 4. I take it out every now and again and rinse under the tap to get meat off. THEN I got the idea to bring the heads to a car wash with a good pressure washer. In 2 minutes per skull (after the stove top) they were clean as a whistle. Put the nozzle of the pressure washer in the brain stem and spray. Brain comes right out....... where old pants though as it flies everywhere
    X2 The nose bones won't fall out if you keep the water just below boiling and don't cook excessively.

  14. #14
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    I have done dozens with warm water and sal soda.I also add some baking soda to help the small and whiten it up.however the best way is hands down,beetles.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by biotroller View Post
    Deer head recipie:

    Skin the head, place bent coathanger in skull through foramen magnum (the big hole) puree the brain with a cordless drill, rinse out with a hose. SIMMER the head, not boil in pot until the meat falls off it easily. Before simmering, I added detergent to the water along with baking soda. The detergent will help cut grease & fat from the skull, the baking soda just seemed like a good idea! Remove as much meat as you can after simmering. Anything stubborn will come off easily at the local coin operated car wash! Dont place the pressure nozzle real close, it will blast your skull apart. Test it to see the distance that works the best. Hit it with spot free rinse, go home and have a bowl of soup from the pot! I did this,(minus the soup) it worked great & smelled terrible!
    Do not use an air compressor to remove the scambled brain! A friend did this, he didn't think it was nearly as funny as I did! Good luck
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  16. #16
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    I simmered the head for another 3 hours this morning and it looks clean. There are some tiny bits left in the nasal cavity but the skull was so soft I didnt want to mess with it for fear of it falling apart. I will wait till it cools and hardens a bit and pick at it. How clean does the nasal cavity have to be? Its still got some dark in there but there is no real way to get it all out without destroying the skull. Im also going to have to super glue some of the breaks back together.

  17. #17
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    What he said.....you demineralize the bone by boiling and it gets 'chalky' and flakes apart. Also dissolves the connective tissue at the suture lines (that's the anatomical term) between the bones of the skull.

    Several methods work:
    Beetles give a very clean skull. Only drawbacks are---colonies hard to maintain unless you do a lot of skulls; if you don't have 'em, and there is no nearby colony, you'll have to ship to someone like Beetle Guy. Also, there is the potential for some beetles to get stuck in the naso-turbinates (scroll-like bones inside the 'nose' part of the skull (the maxilla).

    Simmering slowly over a day or more is a gentle way to cook meat off the bone, just like a meaty bone in a soup pot. Helps to change the water a couple of times to help get rid of grease, too. Don't just dump without checking for teeth that may have fallen out. The move on to degreasing, below.

    Soak the skull in a water bucket with the level just up to the burrs. Add a pinch of fresh horse manure as a bacterial innoculate. Keep at or near room temp....it will smell bad, but really dissolves all the tissue off the bone. Rinse repeatedly with hot water or take to the wand car wash...careful with spraying into the naso-turbinates, as you will blast them apart if the wand is to close.

    Then, you'll need to degrease the skull. Soaking in warm soapy water (Tide powdered works well). Rinse soap, then soak in lacquer thinner in a proper sized flat pan. Cover with tinfoil to slow evaporation. It sometimes helps to use a fine-wire drill bit to penetrate dense bone areas (from the non-visible side) to allow the solvent to penetrate. When that's done, soak in peroxide (3% is OK for some, but the 40% stuff hair dressers use is better and takes less time), then out into the sun after removing from the hydrogen peroxide. Voila, a perfectly bleached white skull...no paint (ye gads, no!), and less likely to yellow over time.
    Last edited by wildernessflyer; December 6th, 2008 at 03:44 PM.

  18. #18
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    beatles hands down
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  19. #19
    A nice lil trick for ya, skin the head let it sit a bucket of water for a few days. Take it out and run over it with a pressure washer with a rotary tip on it. CLEAN as if it were boiled without all the cooking. It will even spray the eyes out and scramble the brains out. Getting ready to do one in the next few days, I'll post pics.
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  20. #20
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    Please do....because I like the results I got for my first time but they could have been better. After changing diapers for the past 5 years I got a strong stomach but the smell got the best of me after a while on this project.

    Its actually hanging on the wall right now. My dog keeps looking at it growling and barking at it.

  21. #21
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    This is the one I boiled yesterday. I still need to whiten it but, it cleaned up pretty nice
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  22. #22
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    YES, simmering is a great way to do it Please, do not get into a rush. Oh, soda ash is a great additive. Find it at your local pool place.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by buckhunter2054 View Post
    This is the one I boiled yesterday. I still need to whiten it but, it cleaned up pretty nice
    That darker point at the top of the skull is heat being a little to high or a little to long. You should have no problem doing to next step but watch that in the future. Looks good though

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