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Few elk skulls

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by Major, Oct 18, 2014.

  1. Orkman-X

    Orkman-X New Member

    Major, Jared

    I find this conversation very interesting. as a economist (told you skull cleaning is just a non-profit hobby) I understand all to well to work efficiently toward customer's satisfaction to maximize profit to stay in business. that is not what I'm confused about.

    what I'm confused is this:
    so often I read:

    1:'when you boil, you will fixate the grease' = bad
    2: you will damage your skull/bone structure = bad


    I don't think Skulls Unlimited or you pro guys who turn over 2500 zillion heads a year would make degreasing a royal pain in the backend so I'm starting to doubt the validity of point 1
    I don't think Skulls Unlimited or you pro guys who turn over 2500 zillion heads a year would make skull degrading a royal pain in the backend so I'm starting to doubt the validity of point 2 as well

    If neither point 1 or 2 is valid, there would be no reason for a museum guy to not use this method (perhaps maybe some shrinking? dunno)
    I have started to believe that with the right experience and procedure it willl work fine.

    even as a hobbyist this matters to me.
    this pig was macerated for 10 days and then degreased for 7months. it's the last 'big' one I did this year/ does it look fine? I think so but all that time it's taking up 80% or so of my small setup, which makes my freezer space run out and eventually I will have to say no to some other stuff I could have taken in

    I don't get handed often large heads so testing is tricky. so, could you guys point me in the right direction about a 'safe' procedure? I will test it if I get some spare heads. thing is, a few years ago, when I heard 'boiling' I would shake my head in agony but I'm no longer sure enough to do so cuz i've seen skulls boiled to shreds and I've seen very good quality heads where I don't see difference with my 7 month ordeal. I'm being honest probably cuz I'm very confused on this point :)
  2. AH7

    AH7 New Member

    I think PA explained this best when he yelled at me once for repeating the mantra "never boil never boil": he's been in the business (museum work actually) literally longer than I have been alive and he said that he's boiled skulls that have been fine for decades! (Note that mostly he uses beetles though.) What he said that stuck was that in young animals (which have less mineralized bone), boiling probably causes more damage than in fully adult specimens.

    Also, I don't think he, or SU would ever recommend true "boiling" (note that SU wouldn't recommend jack s#!t as they are not very forthcoming with advice!) but rather they selectively use simmering. I think that keeping most adult specimens below a rolling boil would be safe - especially for the initial defleshing parts - but I wouldn't risk it with any of my specimens. I have no need for doing things quickly (I'm a prof and not in it professionally) and the specimens I have are generally harder to come by (rare species), so slow and macerated is fine by me.

    In short, do what works! I've seen dozens of skulls ruined by heat and never a single one ruined by beetles or maceration, but if you want to simmer skulls, that should work most of the time.

  3. Orkman-X

    Orkman-X New Member

    great skulls: thanks for chiming in.

    still the enigma remains: will grease be fixated or like Jared said: it's incredible how many grease comes out at first boil/simmer

    you feel my confusion? :)
  4. Raphite01

    Raphite01 New Member

    I haven't seen the show that featured Skulls Unlimited, but I'd guess that it was heated degreasing that was steaming; my own 125F water is almost too hot to touch. However, I do know that they use large amounts of acetone in their operation, and not just hot soaks. At times they've advertised their use of beetles quite heavily, so I doubt things were being simmered to remove tissue. With a robust beetle colony (which they have in multiples), it's way less work to let them do it than attend a simmer for hours.
  5. Orkman-X

    Orkman-X New Member


    have a look at the clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4R7eqMug-wo

    in the first minute, it is already there: Jay is saying "it was clear water yesterday" he even says he boils. and there are maggots floating in it so I don't think it's degreaser. you also see what seems to be skin falling off
  6. q1221221

    q1221221 Southern Idaho Skullworks

    I am no expert on any of the afore mentioned methods, but I have "boiled"(lets clarify its more of a simmer) out several skulls in the past. I am in the process of getting a beetle colony started after seeing the process from one of my friends. One of the main things that I believe makes the bugs superior is the cleaning of the nasal menbranes without damaging the thin bones in that area. All of the deer skulls that I have cleaned using the simmer method it has been very difficult to remove all of the flesh without damaging the membranes. Some people may not be worried about small details like this, as most of that area is not visible anyways, but I am a bit of a perfectionist. I think it comes back to what Jared said about the guy that spends hours on his lawn, where most would be content with a quick job.

    As far as the grease problem goes I will say that depending how the skull was taken care of before placing in the beetles, I have seen them come out with little need to be degreased. I have never had a skull I finished simmering not need a fair amount of degreasing, especially any type of pig. The last pig I tried simmer and degrease for 8 months is still seeping. The pig that my friend did in the beetles took about 2 months in a degreasing tank, and came out white with no spots.

  7. Orkman-X

    Orkman-X New Member

    hey scott

    thanks for sharing. this has been bugging me for two years now but Jared sparked my reactions since he knew it would on a 'skull guy', bad boy!

    if you watch the SU clip closely (I must have reviewed it 200 times by now), jay says that the beetles eat the remaining flesh once it dried for 24 hours on a shelf. this looks to me a chronological description of their procedure without showing any degreasing of any kind late on. You also see at one point a complete horse skull in a beetle tank.

    SU deffo boils larger skulls, He even says so in the clip. so there must be a way to do it without damaging anything. the initial post pic form Major is too small to blow up and look at nasal turbinates but I guess they are there. they are important to me too as a collector.

    I never boiled before but I want to know! why are great guys like "the dog " not boiling but also spending months on degreasing ?
    why are some saying your skull will be fixated with grease while others say it's awesome degreasing while boiling?

    honestly, I don't want to start to fight like mac vs beetles or so. I just want to know. I'm on here and try to help whoever/whenever I can but I have little experience with larger heads and they always squeeze my tiny bandwith
  8. CA Trapper

    CA Trapper Member

    While we are talking simmering, what is the best temp range to simmer a skull?

    Sent from my iPhone using Ohub Campfire
  9. Orkman-X

    Orkman-X New Member

    CA: that's what I was trying to find out in a more elaborate way of say 2000 words?

    kidding, but still everyone of those were true
  10. RJ skulls

    RJ skulls New Member

    When I started as a kid I only boild skulls and didn't know about anything about degreasing. I made a mess of a lot of skull including a opossum I used bleach on. But I found out what I was doing and how to do it right now 15+ years later I started doing euro mounts for a few hunter and then found this sight. I only got my first colony a year ago out of curiosity and to many customers walked away after i told them I don't use them. Most my skulls look just as white as what I turn out now. I find that I end up using almost every method now. It all depends on the animal the size age and what I'm looking for in the end result. I did get a free bear skull one time from a taxidermist that was beetle cleaned and left in a freezer for over a year do to smelling really bad, Customer didn't want it. I took it home and boiled it clean, its fairly white even after sitting around for a few years