This DIY Dipped Deer Skull Mount is an inexpensive alternative if you would like to display your hunting trophies without spending the type of money it costs to have a taxidermist create an entire head and shoulder mount. The project is cheap and simple. It’s a nice way to preserve the antlers of a good-sized buck that may not be your largest kill and worthy of an entire mount. A head and shoulder mount from the taxidermist will normally run close to $400. With all the hunters in The House That Never Slumbers, paying for a head and shoulder mount for every deer could easily run into the thousands of dollars over the course of a few years. It’s just not feasible to professionally mount every deer.
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This type of mount which includes the skull and antlers only is sometimes referred to as a European mount. You’ll sometimes see the bleached skulls of cattle used in southwestern decor. It’s a similar concept using a deer skull instead of the skull of some other livestock. RiflemanDad used to bleach these skulls using peroxide from the beauty supply store and then put them on the wall bleached. He’s only recently, in the last few years, learned to dip them and add color. If you were paying a professional to complete the bleached skull mount, even that would run about $130. RiflemanDad has been thrifty enough to find a way to display his trophies in an aesthetically pleasing manner without spending thousands of dollars, and without even spending hundreds of dollars.
The process of preserving the deer skull is actually fairly lengthy. It begins with the removal of the skull at the time the deer is harvested. The head has to be left to decompose somehow. RiflemanDad does this by hanging the entire head from a tree. Rather than put another rope in the tree, he tends to just attach the deer head to the tire swing that’s already there in the tree. This means when I’m mowing, I have to use one arm to push that tire swing and with its lovely deer head out of my way while still steering the mower. This is really difficult on a zero-turn mower that requires both hands for steering, and I have to do all of that while hoping the nasty deer head doesn’t swing back and knock me in the face. It smells like any decaying animal carcass would smell, and being attacked in the face by that stupid deer while I’m mowing is just what I need. There’s been one or more hanging there pretty much at all times for the last decade because they need to hang so long.
Once the nasty stuff has been given some time, the skull must be boiled to loosen all the remaining bits of flesh. We usually do this in one of those outdoor turkey cookers that holds a big stock pot and hooks to a propane tank. The one we use is similar to this. We actually borrow the turkey fryer from the neighbor. If we can’t borrow that one, we have to boil the head on the stove in the kitchen. That’s just what you want to see while you’re cooking dinner. The all the flesh, hair, etc. is loosened by the boiling and the skull can be picked clean at that point. The skull needs to dry before it can be dipped.
Before the skull can be dipped, you need to tape the antlers to keep them from getting any of the paint. We use black electrical tape because it serves its purpose but also removes easily. Only the first few inches need to be covered. You will need some kind of large tub to fill with cold water. We use a plastic storage tub. We’ve been using the same one for a while, and we actually discovered a hole in the bottom corner as we were filling it for the video. BullseyeBubba had to run to the garage and get a piece of Flex tape to fix it. Flex tape is something we just purchased for the first time this summer, and it has certainly lived up to the claims so far. I’m still not sure how it manages to stick to something that’s already wet, but it sealed the leak without any issues. The water in the tub must be cold. We just use our hose to fill it. It’s not some kind of special water, but you don’t want to leave it sitting to get warm because then the paint won’t work properly.
It’s entirely up to you how many colors of spray paint you want to use depending on your color preference. We like to use three to four colors. It needs to be gloss enamel spray paint, but other than that, any brand of spray paint will work, so we buy the cheapest. It’s normally $3-$4 per can. One can will go a long way though. You need to shake the cans well. You begin by spraying one color right into the center of the tub for a few seconds. Then switch to the next color and do the same. The color will go out in rings from the center. You can see this demonstrated in the video.
Once you are satisfied with the number of rings of color in your tub of water, you want to take some kind of stick or whatever, and swirl the paint just slightly. You don’t want to stir too much, or you will mix the colors. You want to stir just enough that the pattern looks about like what you would want on the skull. Then holding the skull by the antlers, you slowly and carefully dip the skull into the paint at the spot were you see the best color patterns. You can swirl just a little bit to make sure you are getting the entire skull covered. Then remove the skull from the water, and sit it somewhere to dry.
There are a couple of different ways to attach the Dipped Skull Mount to the wall. If you want to go
the really cheap route, regular metal angle brackets will suffice. If RiflemanDad uses the cheap ones, he spray paints them black because he thinks it looks better. He thinks the regular metal brackets are a little wobbly. He prefers to use the special brackets that are actually made specifically for this purpose. He’s very particular to Mountain Mike’s wall bracket. He claims it works way better and looks better. They run about $10-$12, so considering he’s not spending the hundreds or thousands of dollars in taxidermy fees, even this frugal gal can handle the fancier brackets.