Three Easy Steps On 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.
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.
- 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.
- Using Dermestid Bugs. In this method, you will have to put the skull together with Dermestid beetles and their larvae in a container large enough to hold the skull. You should also put some water in a container to provide humidity. After this, you should just wait until the Demetrids eat all the flesh in the skull. This will take a very long time but this process allows minimum damage to the skull and teeth.For this tutorial, we will use the hot water maceration method since it is the fastest method and a bit of shrinking of the skull would not matter since we are not going to use it for scientific purposes.
Materials Needed in Bleaching a Deer Skull
Before following the steps on how to bleach a deer skull, you must first know the materials that you need to prepare. Here is the list.
- Knife. You will use this material in removing and scraping flesh and tissues from your deer skull.
- Latex Gloves, Apron, and Boots. Like your best hunting boots which provides your feet the best protection during hunting, these materials will protect you from harm and from the unwanted mess and dirt that will be brought about by cleaning and bleaching your deer skull.
- Large Metal Pot. This metal pot will be used in soaking your deer skull during the hot water maceration process.
- Stove or any heat source. You will use this material in “cooking” your deer skull during the maceration process.
- Tongs. During the hot water maceration process, you will occasionally remove flesh and tissues from your deer skull. You will need tongs to lift the skull out of the water for cleaning.
- Hydrogen Peroxide. You will use this material in whitening (bleaching) your skull.
- Large Plastic Container. This material should be large enough to immerse your deer skull since it will be used in soaking the skull in hydrogen peroxide solution for bleaching.
How to Bleach a Deer Skull
Step 1. Remove as much Meat and Flesh as you Can from the Skull
After you have separated the head from the body and the skull has been skinned out, using a knife, you should remove as much meat as you can from the skull while being careful not to damage or scrape the bones. Remove the tongue and the lower jaw tissue. Also, try removing most of the brain tissues as well as the eye balls. Removing as much flesh as you can will save you some time in the maceration process.
Step 2. “Cook” the Deer Skull in Water with Sodium Carbonate
This process allows you to remove the remaining flesh and tissues stuck in the skull. Since this step includes a few sub steps, here is the list:
- Bring the water solution to a boil.
- Simmer and submerge the deer skull into the water and let it boil until the flesh softens.
- Using the tongs, lift the skull out of the water and carefully scrape off the remaining flesh and tissues. Since they are softened by cooking and loosened by the sodium carbonate, it is easier to scrape them off.
- Repeat this process until all tissues are removed. Just make sure that you don’t cook it too long that it damages the skull and dissolve the bone tissues.
- For a cleaner finish, you can use a hose to flush out the brain and nasal tissues that may still be stuck inside the skull.
Step 3. Whiten the Deer Skull Using Hydrogen Peroxide
In bleaching a deer skull, chlorine is not used since it has the tendency to seep through the bones and damage it. It also causes white powders to form which turns yellow over time which we do not want in our trophy. Thus, we use hydrogen peroxide. This chemical whitens the skull well without damaging the bone tissues. Here are the steps on how to bleach a deer skull:
- Air dry the skull until it is entirely dried out.
- Mix 12% hydrogen peroxide and water in a 1:1 ratio in a plastic container large enough to accommodate the deer skull. You can use lower concentration depending on your preference.
- Soak the deer skull into the hydrogen peroxide solution making sure that the skull is completely soaked but the antlers are not. We want our antlers to retain their natural color.
- Leave the skull soaked until you reach your desired level of whiteness. Just make sure to check it regularly so as not to damage your skull from over-soaking.
- After putting out the skull in the solution, rinse it with water and let it dry completely.
- When completely dried, apply clear lacquer to coat your skull. This will protect the skull from molds and other damaging factors and also prevents your skull from yellowing through time.
Bleaching a deer skull on your own can be a tedious task but it is possible as long as you are determined to do so. It not only allows you to save money but it also gives you a feeling of fulfillment when you finished the task. As hunters, we enjoy taking and cleaning trophies. We may not do the job on our own every time we have a catch but we can do it from time to time especially when it comes to our greatest feats. That is why it is good to have knowledge on how to bleach a deer skull. I hope this article helped you!
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