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Bison Skull Horn Sheath Removal?

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by EastonWest, Jul 22, 2007.

  1. EastonWest

    EastonWest What we do in North Dakota, STAYS here.

    I finally acquired a buffalo skull from the local slaughter plant. It is absolutely enormous and I still hafta cut a bunch of meat off of it. I am clueless as how to get the horn sheaths off though. If anyone can help me out it would be very appreciated. Thanks. EB
  2. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Active Member

    Hack, carve, slice and rip ... all the meat off you possibly can. Break up the brain with a stick and flush it ALL out with a hose. Put it in a large black plastic garbage bag (two if they are thin and toss in a couple of cups of water. Tie the bag up tight and put it up on your roof if you can for at least a month. If you can't get it up there see if you can lay out some roofing shingles on a flat surface so that they soak up the sun and help generate heat in the black bag. Make sure it gets as much sun as possible in the bag. After a month, open the bag ... send the wife and kids away this day ... hold your nose and hose it off really well. At this point the horn caps should be loose and you should be able to knock them off with a rubber mallet and some twisting. Use a rag as rubber gloves don't grip very well. You can then boil the skull, beetle clean or what have you. The horn caps can be scrubbed and cleaned with some good detergent soap. I use a stiff brush for cleaning thermos bottles to get all the way down into the tips. Soak for a week in a strong solution of baking soda and wash and rinse again. Once completely dry they won't smell. You should also cut the bone cores off short if you are going to put the caps back on. There will be a quantity of nasty goo inside them (they are hollow near the base) that you will have to get out too.

  3. joeyarcher

    joeyarcher New Member

    Take and cut with a fillet knife up inside and around the sheaths as much as possible. Then take and shove as much saran wrap or shrink wrap up inside the sheath as you can. Then tightly wrap the sheaths with the same and the rest mother nature will take care of. In a couple of days try to start wiggling the sheaths. They will soon come off.
  4. wow i wanan buffalo skull....

    by aquired you mean free or had to buy?
  5. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Active Member

  6. EastonWest

    EastonWest What we do in North Dakota, STAYS here.

    Nope, i got it for free. I have family that works at this bison processing plant near my home town and I asked if I'd be able to get a raw buffalo skull. I received a bull skull for free and the manager of the plant says that If this one turns out okay and I show it to him that he'll give me a herd bull skull for free also. I sure am lucky. ;D
  7. WOW I envy you : )
  8. Archer

    Archer New Member

    Where I live, I can't do the stink option. So, I remove as much of the meat, brains, etc. from the skull I can, then I simmer in large tub of water with dishwasher soap until the horn caps come off with a good twist. Take a little while for the hot water to cook the inside membranes of the horns to the point they loosen up. Then I just poor some Borax in each horn and continue simmer/boiling the skull till I can scrape all tissue from it. I then clean replace the water with fresh, clean water, more dishwasher soap and a cup of 40% hydrogen peroxide. Continue to simmer until it's as clean as I like it. Let everything dry/cure for a few days, glue horn caps on and that's about it.

    Good luck!

  9. Gobblingfever

    Gobblingfever 100% PEER GOBBLER ADDICTION!!!!

    I macerated a cow buffalo skull and the caps started to get soft and kinda fall apart and get mushy. They are like a bunch of thick hairs stuck together to make a horn.
  10. hhbones

    hhbones New Member

    The caps need to be removed before macerating or that happens.

  11. Gobl 4 Me

    Gobl 4 Me New Member

    Hey eastonwest is it going in beetles????
  12. EastonWest

    EastonWest What we do in North Dakota, STAYS here.

    Yep, goin in the beetles so simmering and rotting really ain't an option for me.
  13. freddy d

    freddy d New Member

    Just Cleaned a Scotish Highlander cow skull with my beetles. I covered the horns with sahran wrap then duct tape, within a couple of days the horn caps lossened up and came off with very little twisting. The beetles then made fast work of removing the membrane
  14. EastonWest

    EastonWest What we do in North Dakota, STAYS here.

    I cleaned a pronghorn and just cut the horns off. Got a knife underneath the horn sheaths and was able to get them off this way. I'll see if this'll work with a bison. Thanks everyone for the help>
  15. pigsrus

    pigsrus New Member

    OK, seems like there are several options and seems like someone has negative comments about each. I have a bull buffalo in my shop and the customer wants a shoulder mount as well as a European mount. I tried simmering first with no luck. Four hours later I could not get them to budge. Currently the skull and caps are in a trash bag and have been for 14 days. No luck on removing the caps so far. It stinks and the base of the caps are a bit soft. Do I need to get rough with them to get them off the skull? So far I have only tried twisting with my hands and not a lot of force.

    The bag is in a barn, not direct sunlight. The outside temp is averaging around 50 at night and 65 during the day. What am I doing wrong? Obviously this is the first time I have dealt with horn caps.

    Thanks for any help. Sam
  16. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Active Member

    Sam, I did find out that buffalo horns act differently than cattle horns when rotted off. You might want to take it out of the bag and let the horns dry out for a couple of days, then try cutting the membranes and flesh loose from around the horn bases like Joeyarcher said. I would have said that 4 hours wasn't long enough to simmer. You could go back and try that again after the horns dry out but it will really stink this time. I would also think that you would have to have the horns submerged when you boil as you need to cook the inside all along the length of it. Buffalo horn acts differently than normal cow horns. It's not constructed the same way.

    The reason the black bag was out in the sun was to increase the temperature inside the bag by using solar energy. To rot thing effectively, it has to be fairly warm. You might want to try tapping on the horn caps with a rubber mallet and see if that helps to loosen them. Do be careful where they have softened. That was why I suggested you let them dry out a bit. You don't want to tear the cap material and if they get a chance to dry they should firm back up.
  17. RDMARTIN53

    RDMARTIN53 New Member

    Sam, At your temps you are more likely to mold them off than rot. Bagging them requires heat or hot temps. Longest it has ever taken me on BIG Bison, Bighorn Sheep or Antelope is 2 days. I put mine in my bug shed where temps are 85-90 degrees though. Old chest freezer with a small heater would do the trick if you can't find a hot spot.
  18. Yep, buffalo horns are a bugger, seems like alot of good ideas out there, i have done several in the past few months. the first thing i do is take thin knife and cut around the base pushing the knife as far as i can. And yes you can bag them and let them rot a little to try and loosen things up. other things that can help is to carefully pound them with a rubber mallot expecially during simmering. I have found that the horns can be difficult to twist cause they have ridges on the bone preventing them from twistiing, so they tend to come straight off. I have also used a oil filter band wench to help move them, but be care ful to use padding between the metal band and the horn, cause you can scare the horn. it seems like pounding on them works. kel
  19. pigsrus

    pigsrus New Member

    Thanks for the advice. I'll keep at it and hopefully they will eventually come off.
  20. pigsrus

    pigsrus New Member

    Thanks for all the help. Took about three weeks in a bag and they came off with a little help from a rubber mallot. Wow do they every stink!