European mounts are a classic way to remember your hunt in a three-dimensional space, but how do you make a European Deer Mount? I was interested in learning how to make European deer mounts myself so I did some research.
European deer mounts are made by cutting off the head of a deer at the base of a skull, skin the skull, remove the eyes, and then pick clean the deer skull down to the bone. Removing the lower jaw is typical but not mandatory. After the most tissue has been removed as possible from the skull you will boil the skull in a pot over a heat source (campfire, stove, or portable flame). You can use a board or pipe to suspend the skull in the boiling water without letting the antlers touch the water. Boiling time will be 45 minutes or more depending on how much tissue is left on the skull. After you boil the skull, clean the remaining tissue off all areas of the skull. Tools to clean the skull can include anything at your disposal including, gun cleaning picks, screw drivers, steel wool, brushes and toothbrushes. Do not brush the antlers. After cooking and cleaning, degrease the skull with a soap water mix. Place skull once dry into a box lid, tape the antlers, and use a peroxide 40 volume whitener applied in a couple coats to the skull until you are happy with the shade of white. Once the deer skull has been whitened you can mount your skull.
Reasons for Making a European Deer Mount
A European deer mount is a display of the skull (which has been whitened) and antlers of a deer and is a great way to display your trophy. Starting a conversation, telling a story, or passing on a tradition is a great reason to make a Euro mount. However, another reason some people chose a Euro mount may be access limitations to taxidermy services. Also depending on where you are, you may have to consider a European mount for out-of-state transfer of your animal back home. Probably the most common reason hunters pursue making a European deer mount is cost. Everyone loves to save money, which for hunters usually means they can spend more money on sweet gear.
European Deer Mount Cost
Deer taxidermy cost can vary greatly by region and quality of business. The cost of a European deer mount can range from $80 to over $200 depending on your location. No matter the reason, if you decide to do the mount yourself there are a few tips I can share after attempting my own DIY European mount following a successful hunt. Most places will charge a base price for the cleaning and preparation services and then they will separately charge for any additional aesthetic mounting features such as rustic barn wood or pack display mounts.
How Do You Prepare a Deer Skull for a European Mount
Supplies are crucial and depending on where you are planning to boil the head will determine what type of gear you will need. Generally, you will need a pot big enough to fit the animal skull while also allowing enough space for water so that the skull is fully submerged up to the antlers. A pot used for canning fit this symmetrical six-point perfectly. Having a lid to rest on top is nice even if it does not seal to help trap heat and moisture. You will want to add some sort of dish soap or degreaser to the fluid to absorb the oil that will come off the skull in the cooking process.
You want to heat the water long enough to break down the tissues still attached to the skull. This can be done by placing the pot on a propane burner, electric burner, or over a fire. If using a fire, you will want to be very careful to keep the fire stoked to maintain cooking temperature, but also not too big because it is possible to char and burn off your antlers (I learned the hard way). Regardless of your cooking method, you will want to cook the skull outdoors or in an extremely well-ventilated area. The smell is not pleasant, and CWD has the highest concentrations in the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord, lymph system). You should wear gloves, be cognizant of what you touch, and use a bleach spray on all components of the cook after you finish (bleach has been shown to denature the CWD prion on equipment in recent studies). The cooking process will be a minimum of 45 minutes but may take up to several hours to help loosen the tissues from the bone.
After you have cooked and removed the tissues from the skull, let the skull dry. After the skull is dry apply a hydrogen peroxide cream solution to only the skull (avoid the antlers). Let this cream sit for 48-72 hours for maximum whitening results. Wear gloves and use a tray to catch any extra cream that may drip off the skull. After the skull has been whitened you are ready to hang or display your mount.
What Equipment is Needed for European Deer Mount
Cooking Pot (Canning pot is a great size for whitetail deer skulls)
Heat source - Campfire, Stove, Portable Burner
You can buy these items separately at almost any local store or you can buy a complete skull whitening kit from Amazon if that is your preference. You may still need some additional cleaning tools for preparation. I actually found that the hair dresser peroxide was the easiest step of the process and the bottle was over half the price of the whitening kit.
Steps for Making a European Deer Mount
Cut head off the neck below the base of the skull
Clean Skull of hide and tissue as best as possible
Place in a pot and fill with water to the level of antlers
Add a bit of dish soap or powdered OxiClean
Cook skull for 45 min to 12 hours until remaining tissue is soft and easily removed
Use pick and steel brush to clean skull of any remaining tissue
Apply peroxide cream with a brush, make sure to get all visible areas, let soak for 48-72 hours
Clean any remaining spots
Hang or display your mount
European Deer Mount Kit
There are several ways to display your deer mount. The cheapest and easiest way is to use some scrap board wood to create something to mount to the wall, and then you can screw in a garage storage screw into the board. You can also screw a hanger right into the wall for a clean looking deer mount. If you want to spend a little money and save yourself some time, you can hit amazon for a complete European deer mounting kit. There are multiple styles available to choose from depending on whether you want to mount your deer skull on the wall or display it on a shelf, desk, or table. Both mounts should be available for under $50, but check amazon for the latest price.
No matter which display style you chose, will enjoy a lifetime memories and stories surrounding your epic hunt. Mounts of any kind are basically a 3D photo that solidifies an adventure forever. I hope you get to continue to hunt and inspire the hunting tradition for the next generation with your beautiful deer mount.