Cleaning deer skull WITHOUT whitening antlers

Submitted by Anthony on 12/25/2003. ( )

I've searched and found numerous ideas for cleaning and whitening skulls and antlers but what I'm looking for is how to boil/clean the skull WITHOUT affecting the natural color of the antlers. What methods of removing the flesh/hide/hair work without removing the color from the antlers? Thanks in advance.

Return to Beginners Category Menu

Why would you lose color?

This response submitted by George on 12/26/2003. ( )

If you submerge the head and antlers in water, why would the antlers bleach out? Let the skull mascerate naturally without adding anything to the water. Do not boil unless you're willing to lose some bone in the nose and nasal cavities.

Keep them out

This response submitted by High Schooler on 12/26/2003. ( )

put a board across the top of the pot (2X4) and then rest the antlers on this, (resting them on the pot isn't very good) then fill up the pot till it's up to the bottom of the antlers. This way the antlers won't be in the water to lose color. When boiling sculls, i'm guessing this is a new experience for you, start out by removing the hide, lower jaw, and eyeballs and as much meat as you can cut off without scratching the scull. Don't actually boil, don't use that much heat, it shouldn't actually boil. Add arm and hammers super washing soda in when you boil it also, this helps cut down on grease and oil. Take it out periodically and remove as much meat as possible, switching water isn't a bad idea either. the less time it spends in the heat the less likely you are to lose bone from the nose, although it isn't the best parts can be superglued back on. aim for no more than 3 hours. you could go by means of maceration, good way to go but it usually is accomodated by some smells, and the third is beetles, although i haven't used it, (i'm only 16 and my mom says NO) it's the best way to go. If you are planning on doing this often i would recomend this, but if it's more than a once or twice time thing, boiling works just fine, that's what i do.

Sorry Highschooler

This response submitted by George on 12/26/2003. ( )

But the baking soda won't do much during the simmering of the skull. You're probably thinking Sal Soda, but you need to be careful that it doesn't get on the antlers. It WILL discolor them if it comes into contact. It's like laundry detergent. Your point about partial submersion is excellent, however soaking the entire skull in water won't discolor the antler, just wet them. The very BEST way to do this job has to be the beetle method. It's faster, cleaner and there's less damage to the skull bone work.

Sorry, George,

This response submitted by Glen Conley on 12/26/2003. ( )

the high scooler is correct.

Arm and Hammer's Super Washing Soda is sodium carbonate, and not sodium bicarbonate.

Less water and more beetles

This response submitted by Dean Gregg ( Coal Hollow Taxidermy) on 12/26/2003. ( )

I would have to agree with George on this one ( I know george I cant'n belive im saying that either LMAO ) But if you want to have the best looking skull you can have go with the beetles they take only what needs to be taken from the skull unlike boiling in water. Good luck! Dean

Now waitaminnit, Dean!

This response submitted by Glen Conley on 12/26/2003. ( )

I had this gut feeling I should return to this post.

I just wanted to point out the High schooler was correct on the washing soda, BUT I agree with you and George on techniques for end results.

I'm not so sure but the word "boiling" doesn't get used too loosely.

I can not remember the exact temperature that sodium carbonate is converted to it's caustic form in water, but it is in the upper 130s F.

Collagen disassociates at 212 degrees, or boiling.

To try this in simplest terms, the collagen is a lattice, if you will, for bone growth. Collagen with a mineral deposit produces bone. The younger the animal, the less closure of the joints, in this case the sutures, so the greater the damage done by boiling.

The basic collagen here is the same collagen structure as found in skin and muscle.


This response submitted by George on 12/26/2003. ( )

Sorry Highschooler, I let my mouth engage before my brain. I READ Arm and Hammer and ASSUMED you were talking about baking soda. What the hell is Arm & Hammer making washing detergent for anyway. LMAO Thanx Glen.

George, the Arm and Hammer people

This response submitted by Glen on 12/26/2003. ( )

are on our team!

Remember how Grandma used to make the lye soap? Have you ever wondered how badly you stink to an animal? I'll tell you what to do.

Heat some water up to 150-160 degrees, put the Super Washing Soda in the hot water solution, you won't need a black cauldron, plastic buckets or tubs will do. I just put the soda in to the point that it dissolves completely.

Put your hunting clothes into this, and stir 'em with a stick.

You'll smell what I mean by "stinking".

Rinse the Hell out of 'em. Let 'em air dry.

After you've done this, take a smell of your clothes. Best odor eliminator I've found.

antler color- cleaning a skull

This response submitted by Aaron Honeycutt on 12/26/2003. ( )

Anthony, Alright, I get you are concerned about "bleaching" or fading the antlers. The boiling shouldn't fade the antlers BUT it sure will clean out the rough places so the bases may APPEAR changed in color. I would not boil the skull anyway. What you have to be careful about is the antlers turning darker by some methods. I have the best results by allowing bugs to eat on the skull for a few weeks (less time in warmer weather and with more bugs.) Next I soak the skull a day and then wrap it up in a black trash bag leaving the antlers only outside the bag. Put the bag on top of a building or other protected place (from critters). The heat from the sun will rot off remaining flesh quickly, hose off, repeat as needed, peroxide, dry in sunshine. Enjoy, Aaron H.


This response submitted by k.l. on 12/27/2003. ( )

george has still not learned!

Im saying this nicely

This response submitted by Bill Yox on 12/27/2003. ( )

Two things. Is it any wonder why folks do not use the archives or the search button? This IS why, silly boys. Youll keep reanswering them! Understand that I dont really mind, as Im not the one retyping it all over again. Just remember the next time you get mad at them, some of you are your own worst enemy! The main reason I posted was...its spelled S-K-U-L-L, not scull. Damn, Id punish my kids for spelling that bad, hahaha.


This response submitted by High Schooler on 12/28/2003. ( )

I think i got it now, hopefully. I hope i'm not the only one that spells it wrong :)

Return to Beginners Category Menu