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Maceration & Removing Horns???

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by Robert Baker, Nov 25, 2020.

  1. Robert Baker

    Robert Baker Well-Known Member

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    Hey Everyone,

    Newbie question here so be kind I have delicate feelings. :) (Just Kidding -- well about the feelings part anyways..)

    Two Part Question:

    1) If macerating a skull, do you still have to remove the horns from horned animals? I'm guessing if you didn't they would come loose anyways right?

    2) I have a pronghorn and a sheep that I have tried everything I can find to remove these darnt horns and nothing seems to work. What I have tried thus far:

    a) Soaking them in very hot water for three days (changing out water to keep it hot).
    b) Putting them in a bag and sealing it -- leaving it in a warm room (for a week).
    c) Putting them in a bag and sealing it after putting half cup water in the bag (for a week) -- this produced a fair amount of mold and maggots on them both but did not ruin them).
    d) Smacking them with a rubber mallet while having son pull on the horns.

    None of these steps have even loosened the horns from either animal. SO -- that's where question number 1 came to mind. Maceration. If I keep an eye on them, during the maceration process, I'm thinking the rotting process will eventually make them loose?

    Am I on the right track or does someone have another idea for horns that seem like their cemented on?

    Thank you in advance for any help you may offer.

    Regards,

    Robert
     
  2. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Don't soak the pronghorn. The horns are hair horns and will fall apart if soaked for too long. On both animals, you need to work a sharp, thin bladed knife up underneath the base of the horn and cut all the way around the bottom. There is a membrane there holding it in place. I can't offer a lot of help with the pronghorn as I have yet to work on one. There is a lot of info on them in the archives and a search for Pronghorn horn removal pronghorn removing horns .. etc will bring up the information. For the sheep, same thing about cutting up under the bases of the horns. Wear gloves in case the knife slips. After being bagged for a week they should come off. Bash them with a mallet hard. Don't be easy with it and hit them in the direction of the horn twist if they have one. Pull and twist like you are unscrewing them. Letting them sit in simmering water for a short period of time may help but that is a last resort.
     
    Robert Baker likes this.

  3. Robert Baker

    Robert Baker Well-Known Member

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    I will give that a try. Thank you for the info SW.

    Robert
     
  4. Robert Baker

    Robert Baker Well-Known Member

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    Finally got the horns off. First pronghorn left me wondering if they're all hard but then had one come in today that they pulled right off of. Weird. SO -- I ended up soaking them like you suggested I shouldnt do (Im sure it was sound advice but I was grasping by this point lol). Three days, checking them every so often. It softened them a bit but everything was good. Got them to wiggle but still couldnt get them to budge. Then I had an idea. Put a small block of 2x4 screwed onto the end of a pallet (in the center). Put the skull plate in the center of that with the horns facing in. Took two ratchet straps and wrapped one around each horn -- hooked to opposing corners and started ratcheting them down slowly and woola! They popped off one at a time. In the end, nothing got damaged, and all is good. Morale of the story -- sometimes you just have to make up sh*t to get something done. =)

    Robert
     
  5. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    It worked without damage is what is important. Someone on here posted a thread on using ratchet straps to get the horns off ... either a big longhorn or maybe a watusi. Good to know they can be used on speed goats too. Someone else puts them in the microwave for a while. Can't imagine what the wife would think of that one.
     
    Robert Baker likes this.
  6. Robert Baker

    Robert Baker Well-Known Member

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    You made me laugh at "Can't imagine what the wife would think of that one." I cringed at the thought of how that would play out lol..
    Robert