Let me start out by saying that I put this on here for beginners to get information from and for people to critique my process as well. I used 2 different skulls in this turitorial to save time and because i was anxious to complete this. So, no my process has no way of adding 2 years of growth to your antlers! By the way, this whole process took less than 4 days to complete.
After skinning out the head, i begin the process by removing the eyes, the fat behind them, the flimsy cartlidge in the nasal cavity, as well as any large amounts of meat, all these will speed up the process.
Once these are removed, i remove the spine all the way up to the base of the skull.
now its time for brain removal, i dont use anything complicated, this is just a small clay tool from McKenzie. The technique i use is to hold the skull up and act as if i was scrapping the last of the jelly out of a jar, circle the hole, then scrape the brain out, this takes a few times.
After this I remove its upper palate, this is for time. Sometimes i have it harden up and they take a long time to eat it. By removing it, it speeds things up.
After the palate is removed, i rinse it under water and place it on my dryer rack. The rack is simply 2 big boxfans, one laying flat underneath, one standing upright and also i have a small rotating fan behind it. These are to make sure it all gets dried out fast. Also i have noticed by having that much wind, the flies have a hard time grtting to it to lay any eggs, so the land on my fly strips instead.
Well then comes the beetles, this is a large laydown freezer i got for free from a scrap yard, with a strong wooden lid, on each end of the lid is ventalation holes with 2 sets of screens in between. Plexiglass windows, and small strips of cusion around the rim of the freezer inbetween the freezer and the lid to prevent escapes and intruders.
here is the inside, fluff bedding, cut cardboard for a place for them to lay eggs, a heater in the corner, and a thermostat in the opposite corner down by the bedding to kick on and off the heater at 83 degrees.
----------this 8 pt. buck was shot in the side of the face and he wanted me to leave it the way it is to show the path of the bullet, it actually entered its cheek and came out its eye socket . --------------------
Here is one thing i have found out, i always place my skull into a empty bucket after i remove it from the beetles, this allows all the hiding beetles to escape from the skull, usually they walk out on to the skull itself and i walk up and quickly brush them into the bottom of the bucket, after a few times i can save A LOT of bugs that were going to be trapped and die.
After i saved as many as i want, I then submerge the skull in luke warm water and squirt a good amount of Dawn Dishsoap into the water and on the skull, this helps soak out the oils and other contaminants out of the bone. I then heat the bucketof water, skull and soap to a nice warm temperature, this seems to speed up things as well.
Once it looks like the following pic, a soupy look, i remove the skull, and start this process all over, it make take 2-3 times till it stays clear.
I then remove it, rinse it, and hang dryit for an hour or so. During this i get my whitening supplies ready, I use 1/2 scoop of Basic White, and as much 20% peroxide from Sally Beauty Supply as needed to cover the entire skull.
once submerged, it should foam a little and bubble up. this is a way of telling that it is working. Once again i add the heater to the process to strengthen the whiteness and speed things up. I let it sit then for 2 days or until i can pull it out and it looks white, once it dries it will look really white then!
Another tip i have for you, since i reuse my peroxide for about 5 skulls, i filter it through 2 shoptowels into a 5 gallon bucket, i pour it slowly through it, this filters out any small chunks of anything that might have gotten in there.
Once i feel it is done, and it is hung dry for about 4 hours, i then move on to restain the antlers back to their original look. this is what the peroxide will do to them.
I use several Q-tips, and Minwax Gel Stain----Chestnut color----, i then apply this and blend in the stain to bring it back to its original look around the burrs, if it looks too shiny, i just rub it with a rag once it is dry to rough it up a little and take away the shine.
Once it looks original again and is dried, it is then time to seal it. This keeps away the moisture from it and keeps it from yellowing in the future.
For this i use Krylon Clear Satin, the dries in 10 minutes stuff, this seems to work great, and it is easy to find. I just give it 2 coats, just misting it over the entire skull, also in the nasal area and brain hole. Then i hang it to dry for around 2 hours before i call the customer.
This is the final product of your 4 days of work. I hope you learned something from this and i would love to get critiqued on my ways of doing this. Good luck if u try this at your home, and keep this awesome forum going!! Thanks for looking.