Three Easy Steps On How To Bleach A Deer Skull

How to Bleach a Deer Skull

As a hunter, it is very meaningful for us to have a remembrance of our catch. After filling ourselves with its delicious meat, after storing all the best proteins we can get, we would want something that would remind us of our great hunting experience and of our great feat. One thing we enjoyed having after catching a deer is a nice white skull for a trophy.

Some hunters bring it to a taxidermist to have it cleaned for them while some find it more fulfilling to clean and bleach their own trophies. Some, on the other hand, just wanted to save money. Some hunters may have already mastered bleaching a deer skull but some may not.

Are you just new in deer hunting and wanted to experience the rewarding feeling of preparing your own trophy? Have you been paying for a taxidermist all this time and wanted to try to bleach your own deer skull for a change? Do you want to save money from paying somebody to clean your trophy for you? Let me help you with that. Here are some easy steps on how to bleach a deer skull. But before we proceed, let us first discuss some things that you need to know about bleaching a deer skull.

We understand some of you may want a quicker process and have seen kit out there on the market. Most kits out there that claim to make the process much quicker and yield similar results so they may be worth your investment. If you are interested in one of these kits we decided to list our recommendation below for your convenience. The kit below has enough material included to bleach two deer skulls. This kit will finish the bleaching process in a day.

Three Ways of Cleaning a Deer Skull

Cold Water Maceration

In this method, you will have to soak the skull in water of approximately 90 degrees F temperature until there is no remaining flesh in the skull. If you want to help remove grease from the skull you may add 2 tablespoons of laundry detergent per gallon of water. In order to lessen the foul odor, you should occasionally change the water with a fresh one. This process may take several weeks to around two months. After soaking, you should remove all the remaining flesh and soak it again for 24 hours to get rid of the foul smell. This method does not damage or shrink the deer skull but is a very slow process.

How to Bleach a Deer Skull

Cold Water Maceration – Photo credit:

Hot Water Maceration

This method simply speeds up the maceration process. For this process, you will have to soak the skull in boiling water with ¼ cup sodium carbonate per gallon of water for several minutes. “Cooking” the skull softens the tissues which allows you to easily remove them. This process is fast but may cause the skull to shrink. The materials needed during the hot water maceration process are listed below.

How to Bleach a Deer Skull

Hot Water Maceration – Photo credit:

Dermestid Beetles

Dermestid beetle larvae are actually pretty easy to come by, and they have a voracious appetite for the fleshy bits left on your prize. The actual beetles are rather small and unassuming, and don’t eat much – however, their larval stage (which somewhat resembles a silverfish crossed with a mealworm) is ravenous.

To clean your skull for bleaching, all you need to do is place it in a covered container large enough to hold it comfortably, with screened air holes for ventilation. Add your beetles and larvae, then you can just check-in on their progress over the next several days until it’s as clean as you want it.

You can keep the dermestid beetles in that tub, feeding them carrion or food scraps, for your next project. If you do not want to keep them, never free them, they can be a problem in your local ecosystem. You can also freeze the tub to euthanize them humanely.

Last update on 2021-09-21 at 02:35 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

By Sheldon Martin

Sheldon Martin is the founder of Captain Hunter. is a site dedicated to the sport of hunting. We have a deep respect for nature and for the environment, and we therefore take the sport of hunting very seriously. Never think that you are alone in the woods again. Our goal is to share what we know with who needs it most.


  1. I bury the skull in a bucket of dirt and wet newspaper and drop in a few handfuls of composting worms from the local hardware store. It does take a long while but they are efficient little suckers. Afterward I use the worms for milkshake(burley).

  2. Thank you for your help! I’ve gotten my first real buck this season,a nice 9 point buck opening day! At first light to be exact! Oh I was so happy! It taken me over 20 years to get a nice one! Between; school, then work, even just not seeing anything. But that’s changed. I want to add, that even if ya don’t bother peeling the fur off, boiling it will allow it to pull right off after cutting it from the top to to the nose. (Very easy to work with.) And it may be easier “I’d think”. I want to leave mine more a natural color. So I think I’ll use just a clear coat and that should seal it nice. I want to praise you on such a nice article! Wonderful job!

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