One of a hunter’s favorite hunting trophies is the skull or antler mount. Traditionally, hunters displayed their skulls as either a set of antlers on a board, a bleached skull on a shelf, or mounted European style (bleached skull with antlers on a hanging plaque). Recently, these options have changed. Hunters now have a multitude of professional and do-it-yourself options for their favorite trophy mount.
One popular new twist on the European mount, is to antique the skull. This makes the skull look old and gives it a nice neutral patina rather than the boring white look. You can have your taxidermist do this for you and mount it on a European plaque, or you can do it yourself. The basic process requires removing all meat and tissue from the skull. This can be done by macerating it, simmering it in water, or by finding someone with a dermestid beetle colony that is used to clean skulls. Once cleaned and dried, antiquing paint can then be applied. You can find this paint at most craft stores. Make sure to evenly apply, and then seal by spraying a matte or gloss clear coat paint (your preference). Finally, attach to a plaque of your choice.
Another fun, new variation is to apply a camouflage pattern to the skull. This also can be done by your taxidermist, or you can do it at home. There are several places that sell dipping products, and one website, www.camodipkit.com, has a wealth of patterns to choose from. Again, you clean your skull, and follow the friendly instructions on how to dip your skull. This is a fascinating process. As the sheets are laid on water and slowly dissolve, the skull is submerged and the pattern adheres. You are left with a perfect pattern that appears professional. Also, there are several how-to videos and examples on YouTube. After skull is dipped and dried, the skull can be sealed and mounted on a plaque of your choice!
Next, if you don’t want to have the mess of cleaning a skull or you aren’t that sold on a skull mount, but like a similar look, you can have your antlers mounted on a synthetic skull. There are many to choose from, and they aren’t all white plastic! These can come in good reproduction skulls, all the way to stylized metallic skull-like plates. Your taxidermist can help you find a kit, or you can look online at any taxidermy supply. McKenzie Taxidermy Supply (www.mckenziesp.com) has become more retail, and encourages hobby taxidermists to order directly from them.
Of course, if you love the European look or the standard antler mount; you can also do that at home as well. Taxidermy supply companies sell bleaching products, plaques and mounting kits. Also, don’t forget your local taxidermist. Although antler and skull mounts are time-consuming, they are usually cheaper to have done than a shoulder mount. Your local taxidermist usually has the equipment to handle a skull cleaning and bleaching (or other treatment) if you don’t want to take the time or handle the mess. Just remember, there are other options for your trophy now than the old antler mount!