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How do I remove grease from bighorn sheep horns?

Discussion in 'Deer and Gameheads' started by snagmaster, Feb 3, 2012.

  1. snagmaster

    snagmaster New Member

    I boiled my horns and skull to remove the horns and the horns turned real dark. I'm guessing it is from the grease. How would I returned the horns to the original color?
  2. Bill Yox

    Bill Yox Well-Known Member

    I sure hope everyone who has ever argued with me about boiling sheep horns reads this one. :(

    Snag, you could try a degreaser, but Im only guessing to tell you the truth. Its a rule here, I dont boil horns. Sorry you found out the hard way. Try a degreaser, or maybe someone who already goofed can help you. Good luck to you.

  3. snagmaster

    snagmaster New Member

    Thanks Bill,

    I just tried hot water and Dawn soap and got 50% out. Maybe I will try a degreaser to see if I can get anymore.
    Live and learn I guess.
  4. hey Bill
    can you tell the other way to do it?

    ( i did a mouflon last year, who knows if i get more, it might help)
    Thanks in advance
  5. beauhunter

    beauhunter New Member

    I read an artical a while back on this and it said to air dry whipe clean and be prepaired to spend a good amount of time behind an air brush if I can find the link ill send it to u mounted in alaska had a great example of a marco polo just about destroyed from this and shortly after there was a couple forums came out online with instructions to take care of ur problem and I agree with yox I hope they pat bill on the back and say he is right but they won't lol
  6. Bill Yox

    Bill Yox Well-Known Member

    Your best bet is to let them rot off, and that often means leaving them in water, not boil though of course. Then you just bang them against a wood floor and theyll pop off. I have injected water in the seam, and drilled the skull to the cores too.

    I know many good taxidermists will tell you I am wrong, they boil all the time with no trouble, etc. I know a guy who has played russian roulette and is alive too. I just dont take chances with sheep horns. By all means, listen to what others suggest too, but note well that greasy dark horns or cracked split horns cause grief!!!
  7. I place my sheep horns in a 30 gallon plastic garbage can, fill with water and put the lid on. Leave it set for a few weeks, it will get a little ripe, but that's good. Bump them with a rubber mallet and twist them. If they don't budge, throw them back in for a while and try again. That is the only way I will handle trophy sheep, if you boil your asking for big problems. Good luck, Mark
  8. Jim B

    Jim B Active Member

    Boiling,as said,is a real no-no.I have put them in water but don't anymore as they will darken slightly as the water takes on some grease.Fresh ones,I put in a black plastic bag for a few days,then pop them.

    The real stubborn ones that have been dried a long time,I turn upside down so the brain cavity of the skull cap is up.I drill a couple large holes down into the bone cores.The bone cores are honey combed.You don't have to drill far to be into that.Then I fill them up with water.This rehydrates them from the inside out and the exterior of the horn doesn't get wet.As the core soaks up water,the water level constantly drops and you need to keep topping it off.

    They may be ready in a couple days but probably longer,even more than a week,depending on size and how long they have been dry.When you think they are ready to pop,carefully pour the water out.It will be foul.Then proceed as normal.Soaking the entire horn can introduce some grease and some color on sheep horn washes off easily.
  9. James Marsico

    James Marsico Well-Known Member

    I would NEVER put wild sheep horns in water ; it stains them dark. I guess you can boil a few of the domestic types of goats with little problem but placing bighorns or stones or dalls in water is a disaster mistake. First cut all around the base with a parring knife as deep as you can get the blade to go under the horn. Then either leave the horns where flies can get at it and inside the horn or put the horns in a plastic bag in a warm place or best in a heater box. Then after they are ripe you slam the horns down on the floor, it may take a couple of slams. The horns pop off once they are "ready". Then saw off the inner core top about a third of the way down to expose the honey comb . Then boil the skull cap clean and while you are doing this coat the inside of the horns with borax. After everything if very dry use a epoxy adhesive to glue the horns back on to the skull cap. I also will use a few very small finish nails on the back side of the horns. The holes have to be predrilled. As far as fixing stained horns just a lot of elbow grease and a degreaser over and over again . You may have to complete the job with a airbrush.
  10. Bill Yox

    Bill Yox Well-Known Member

    James, with all due respect for the amount of sheep you do, all I was suggesting was enough soaking to get them rehydrated, no more then a typical day in the rain for a sheep. To me, drilling and injecting helps too. As long as theyll rot quick, it works, Id think youd agree with me there, ;).
  11. James Marsico

    James Marsico Well-Known Member

    I agree completely. I was thinking and talking about leaving them in water to rot or for an extended time period. I have injected the cut I make around the bases with water also esp. if they are a old dried out set. Some horns are a real challenge to get off; but 99% will come off rather easy following the method I described above. Make that cut around the horn bases as soon as you get the cape off. A 4" parring knife will slip right up into that core when they are fresh kills..
  12. taylorhensen

    taylorhensen New Member

    I think part of the confusion on whether or not to boil may have to do with whether you put the horns in the pot skull first, or upside down. I am new to sheep heads, but I put the head in the pot upside down with the water level just above the bases and everything worked fine. The next time, I absent-mindedly put the head in skull first. The oils from the skull stained the horns. Lesson learned. I will be scrubbing with a degreaser now. I also read that someone used 3% peroxide to bleach them back. I will NOT be boiling from now on as the horns cracked with the boil even when they didn't stain (The crack didn't break anything, just unsightly). Luckily for me, this was a lion-killed bighorn that I found and not the trophy of a lifetime. I'm glad I had one to practice on. Live and learn.

    P.S. Because it had been so dry, even after the boil the horns were almost impossible to remove. With a little ingenuity and some ratchet straps I rigged a winch system across a flat, carpeted area to winch the horns off.
  13. Jerry Huffaker

    Jerry Huffaker Well-Known Member

    what jim said , He has helped me with this in the past, even if you just let them dry completely most of the time you can just drop them on the floor and they pop right off. When you boiled the horns all the fat from the skull plate and tissue inside the horns permeated into the horns. You will probably never get them back to original unless you airbrush them a lighter color.
  14. Syms1919

    Syms1919 Member

    I drill two holes in each side of horn, on both horns, I cut up into horn if I can and then throw the horns into one or two large garbage bags tape it shut, wait two weeks, has to be at room temp, take horns off, soak in warm water and dawn for 15 minutes, sprinkle horns with borax and put in freezer, then cut the cores off a little ways, then boil or macerate skull, then install horns with the two holes that were drilled previously using bondo