Moultrie Products
Beetles or Boiling
Whitetail Deer
Contributors to this thread:
loprofile 19-Feb-19
Jaquomo 19-Feb-19
EmbryOklahoma 19-Feb-19
stick n string 19-Feb-19
map1 19-Feb-19
Lost Arra 19-Feb-19
ohiohunter 19-Feb-19
wvbowbender 19-Feb-19
Fields 19-Feb-19
Pat Lefemine 19-Feb-19
Mule Power 19-Feb-19
map1 19-Feb-19
YZF-88 19-Feb-19
Fields 19-Feb-19
Highlife 19-Feb-19
AaronShort 19-Feb-19
Franklin 19-Feb-19
1boonr 19-Feb-19
AaronShort 19-Feb-19
Surfbow 19-Feb-19
Jaquomo 19-Feb-19
Mertyman 19-Feb-19
dirtclod Az. 19-Feb-19
BigOzzie 19-Feb-19
TD 19-Feb-19
cnelk 19-Feb-19
TD 19-Feb-19
cnelk 19-Feb-19
cnelk 19-Feb-19
Charlie Rehor 19-Feb-19
ACB 19-Feb-19
ohiohunter 19-Feb-19
TD 19-Feb-19
TD 19-Feb-19
loprofile 19-Feb-19
wilbur 19-Feb-19
Wishedhead 19-Feb-19
Pat Lefemine 19-Feb-19
Squash 19-Feb-19
SBH 19-Feb-19
Zbone 19-Feb-19
Surfbow 19-Feb-19
powder 19-Feb-19
powder 19-Feb-19
Bowbender 19-Feb-19
Milhouse 19-Feb-19
ohiohunter 19-Feb-19
Squash 19-Feb-19
Franklin 19-Feb-19
SBH 19-Feb-19
AaronShort 20-Feb-19
Lost Arra 20-Feb-19
fran 20-Feb-19
BTM 20-Feb-19
Live2hunt 21-Feb-19
Ambush 21-Feb-19
Timbrhuntr 21-Feb-19
loprofile 21-Feb-19
rgb 21-Feb-19
drycreek 21-Feb-19
Surfbow 21-Feb-19
Bou'bound 22-Feb-19
Shortstop 22-Feb-19
AaronShort 22-Feb-19
ROUGHCOUNTRY 22-Feb-19
Ambush 22-Feb-19
skull 23-Feb-19
TD 23-Feb-19
Rickm 23-Feb-19
grizzly 24-Feb-19
grizzly 24-Feb-19
Ambush 25-Feb-19
Mule Power 25-Feb-19
Smtn10PT 25-Feb-19
Hohenzollern 23-Apr-19
razorsharp 23-Apr-19
svrelk 23-Apr-19
Kicker Point 25-Apr-19
EmbryOklahoma 25-Apr-19
From: loprofile
19-Feb-19
Having had skull mounts done both ways I think that having them cleaned by beetles is the far superior method. IMO looks better and does less damage to skull. In my area the cost of beetle cleaning is $100 to $125 and well worth the prices.

From: Jaquomo
19-Feb-19
Definitely beetles. I've done quite a few skulls by simmering but bugs give a more consistent product.

19-Feb-19
If I have time, I'll use the "simmering" process. Beetles are definitely preferable, but who has a colony of beetles hanging out? Oh... Ed Fanchin does, never mind.

19-Feb-19
What do the beetles all eat? If i heard correctly, there is still a lot of picking and cleaning to do by hand even with the beetles. Is this correct?

I have boiled my own off, and paid to have the beetles do it. I like saving money....;^)

From: map1
19-Feb-19
If you boil do it outside. My brother boiled a bear skull inside what a mistake. Stunk the house to high heavans

From: Lost Arra
19-Feb-19

Lost Arra's Link
I'm fortunate to live by Skulls Unlimited, probably the premier skeleton cleaning company in the world. They use beetles and their work is museum quality but a little pricey. In fact, I'm thinking about doing a simmering job if I get another buck just for a little more rustic appearance.

Skulls Unlimited has an osteology museum next door with possibly every animal skeleton in the world from mice to rhinos to giraffes. My grandkids love visiting that place.

From: ohiohunter
19-Feb-19
HAHA, I thought the "outside" detail was common sense. But truthfully every one I've boiled smelled like some kind of bacon. I've boiled and boiled and I have yet to perfect it. I always get a gap or oils resting on the skull cap, then some, not all end up having the oil emerge after time. My oryx skull is now almost all yellow, the audad I boiled so long it finally started cracking yet still seems to be some grease left. On the other hand I had my first elk euro'd and the guy broke the skull, its pretty obvious where he glued it, so it can be a potential gamble any which way.

There is a woman in NM turning out beautiful euros with beetles at an exceptional price. She'd be worth looking into, seen her on facebook.

From: wvbowbender
19-Feb-19
I don't know if this works, but on youtube I saw someone using a pressure washer to clean a skull.

From: Fields
19-Feb-19
I never used a pressure washer to do it, but have heard it done also.. I just don't see how it can be done without blowing many of the delicate areas in the nose cavity out.. I boil everything... Trial and error until I have my system down. I'd never think of sending it away to be done now.. Sending them away may give a bit better job, but to the untrained eye of visitors, my final product suits me and that is all that really matters.. Plus, I can shoot a deer today, and if I am that motivated, I can have the final skull mount sitting in my room in a day or three..

From: Pat Lefemine
19-Feb-19
I used a pressure washer on my CO elk. Big mistake. If you want a Euro, do the beetles.

From: Mule Power
19-Feb-19
Sticknstring... they eat EVERYTHING! Even around the teeth and the teeth are loose or fall out. Zero picking or cleaning after beetles are done.

From: map1
19-Feb-19
If you boil do it outside. My brother boiled a bear skull inside what a mistake. Stunk the house to high heavans

From: YZF-88
19-Feb-19
I simmer all of mine. I use a pressure washer. Not too worried about the fine nasal cavity details. Don’t have the patience for beetles. Typically I go from field to wall in 5 days.

From: Fields
19-Feb-19
I never used a pressure washer to do it, but have heard it done also.. I just don't see how it can be done without blowing many of the delicate areas in the nose cavity out.. I boil everything... Trial and error until I have my system down. I'd never think of sending it away to be done now.. Sending them away may give a bit better job, but to the untrained eye of visitors, my final product suits me and that is all that really matters.. Plus, I can shoot a deer today, and if I am that motivated, I can have the final skull mount sitting in my room in a day or three..

From: Highlife
19-Feb-19
Beatles not bad pop band . Boiling never heard of them

From: AaronShort
19-Feb-19
The de-greasing process it the key to a quality final product. I simmer all my heads and never use a power washer. If done right there is no way to have a quality head done in 3 days. If you know what you are doing the simmered heads will look the same as a head cleaned with beetles.

From: Franklin
19-Feb-19
X2 Aaron....the defleshing part is the least important stage of the process as far as "quality" goes. Beetles are the least labor intensive way to clean a skull, that`s why most people that do it for profit use them. Water maceration is another "labor less" process but is quite nasty.

Simmering with Sodium Carbonate....NOT "boiling"....is the way to go for those that are doing a small number of skulls.

From: 1boonr
19-Feb-19
I’ve been into a house that had a bunch of boiled skulls and it smelled to high heaven. If it can be done without the smell go for it but otherwise Beatles are the answer

From: AaronShort
19-Feb-19
If there is any smell its due to the heads not being cleaned and or de-greased properly. I've completed 1000's of euros and zero smell in any of them, even dead heads. Repeat customers tell me I'm doing something right.

From: Surfbow
19-Feb-19
Beetles create the best final product, hands down...

From: Jaquomo
19-Feb-19
I much prefer Stones over Beatles. Beatles didn't do the job. Started out with promise, discovered psychedelics, the Maharishi, Yoko, and totally went to hell.

Using Borax in the simmering water will help with degreasing.

From: Mertyman
19-Feb-19
It all depends on who is doing the work. I have a couple done by 2 different taxidermists that were boiled and both look much better than the one done by another taxidermist that used beetles.

From: dirtclod Az.
19-Feb-19
All mine are home done Euro Mounts.Simmering/no boiling.(Outdoors)

From: BigOzzie
19-Feb-19
I have trial and error ed my way through lots of skulls, what I have found that works best for me is to de-flesh the best I can, put dawn dish soap in the boil with the heads, and use a hard boil for a short time then pressure wash, the hard boil again for a short time and pressure wash.

I don't stress too much about the fine nasal bones, if anyone is going to walk over and look up the nose of my euro mount, they are bored.

oz

From: TD
19-Feb-19

TD's embedded Photo
TD's embedded Photo
Partial to bugs.....

From: cnelk
19-Feb-19

cnelk's embedded Photo
cnelk's embedded Photo

I would highly suggest not pressure washing turkey skulls

From: TD
19-Feb-19

TD's embedded Photo
TD's embedded Photo
Velvet euro with beetles...... fairly rare trophy (we can still use that word, right?) A bit tricky...... =D

From: cnelk
19-Feb-19

cnelk's embedded Photo
cnelk's embedded Photo
My son’s velvet bull elk.

I cut off the antlers and sent them in to get freeze dried.

Then we re-attached them to the euro skull.

From: cnelk
19-Feb-19

cnelk's embedded Photo
cnelk's embedded Photo
I’m about to do the same thing with my MD from last fall. Just got the antlers back and skull is now ready.

19-Feb-19

Charlie Rehor's embedded Photo
Charlie Rehor's embedded Photo
Charlie Rehor's embedded Photo
Charlie Rehor's embedded Photo
I do mine myself. Slow boil is my path. I have done around 25 skulls from Coyote to Moose and Elk. Too spotty to maintain beetles. Lots of fun doing Euro’s

From: ACB
19-Feb-19
Do a slow boil then when the soft tissue looks right pressure washer will clean it quickly

From: ohiohunter
19-Feb-19
Minor detail not mentioned, boiling a deer skull is cake compared to an elk.

From: TD
19-Feb-19
Have no idea who's pic that was.... lets try that again......

When the head is trimmed as best I can, I drill up though the skull, the pedicals and into the antler a ways. Gives a location and a place to pin it for later. Saw through (with as narrow a kerf saw as you can) from front to back to about 90-95% through and then break it off the rest of the way. Gives a "key" for reference when you re-assemble. Then the head goes to the beetles.

I use a 1/4" stainless "pin" to reconnect. Use white Marine-Tex epoxy to reconnect and you'll never see the seam. Crazy strong epoxy too.

From: TD
19-Feb-19

TD's embedded Photo
TD's embedded Photo
OK..... one.... more.... time......

From: loprofile
19-Feb-19
nice!

From: wilbur
19-Feb-19

wilbur's embedded Photo
wilbur's embedded Photo
I boil with borax. Much preferred over beetles.

From: Wishedhead
19-Feb-19
I am very fortunate to have someone in my area do beetle skulls for 25$ per. Can’t hardly by the chemicals for that

From: Pat Lefemine
19-Feb-19
Can someone describe the no boil simmer method?

From: Squash
19-Feb-19
The secret to simmer or slow boil, is change the water several times as you pick off the meat and tissue, and add some kind of degreasing agent , dish soap, borax, etc.. and don’t over boil. Also, the sooner you cape out the skull and get at it the better the results. Don’t leave the skull with hide on laying around for a long period of time. Then make a slurry with Solon quality hydrogen peroxide mixed with basic white. Paint on and set in the sun. I use a small hole saw to cut a hole on the underside of the brain cavity to get the brains out easier, and a air compressor to blow out sinus cavity. Beetle guy I used for moose skulls, uses acetone for the degreasing process.

From: SBH
19-Feb-19
When I can swing it I send em in to the bugs.

BUT....now that the boys are killing we have to many domes to pay for so they get simmered at home. Almost have it down. Like others have stated.... I've learned

1) Simmer for 4-6 hours....or more if needed. Don't let it come to a hard boil. 2) skin the heads right away, don't let them sit for too long 3) Borax in the simmering water 4) do it outside with a big turkey boiler....those of you doing it inside are nuts 5) Usually have a little picking and fine tuning to do with a knife and pliers. I use a clothes hanger to get the brains out. Also, I will boil 3 heads at a time which saves on propane. I do prefer beetles and the product is better in my opinion but I can't afford to send away that many skulls every year so we have been boiling. Its great project for the kids too.

From: Zbone
19-Feb-19
Beetles, hands down...

From: Surfbow
19-Feb-19
I'm with Lou, beetles over boiling, Stones over Beatles...I just don't get the Beatles

From: powder
19-Feb-19
Slow simmer with thermostat controlled electric. Water gets a scoop of oxyclean a squirt of dawn and water is changed if needed. I run temp about 185 and never over 190. Some of these deer have alot of grease locked up in the bone that needs to come out, beetles cant do it so degreasing is important unless you want a tingy yellow forhead in a few years. After flesh is gone head goes into another bath of 140 degree 15% peroxide solution for maybe 20 minutes or so then heat is turned off and it sits in there for maybe an hour and then is rinsed good with hot water. Oh and for those that dont know, boiling is running over 212 degrees simmering is heating at under 212 degrees.

From: powder
19-Feb-19

powder's embedded Photo
powder's embedded Photo
All fine nasal passage bones still in

From: Bowbender
19-Feb-19
"Then make a slurry with Solon quality hydrogen peroxide mixed with basic white. Paint on and set in the sun."

For how long? And do you rinse the slurry off?

From: Milhouse
19-Feb-19
Beetles if you want it done right.

From: ohiohunter
19-Feb-19

ohiohunter's embedded Photo
Maceration only, no peroxide
ohiohunter's embedded Photo
Maceration only, no peroxide
I’m gonna try the method in the middle, maceration, but with an aquarium heater. I’d always do maceration without heater on dead heads and if you have the real estate and time (patience more than anything) it is probably the most affordable way.

From: Squash
19-Feb-19
Bowbender , it’s your call to how long to leave it on. If the skull is white enough for you. I use 30-40% by volume Solon quality hydrogen peroxide. You don’t need to mix in much basic white. And yes when dry there will be a powder residue, I rinse with water.

From: Franklin
19-Feb-19
After a simmer or bugging you need a good degreasing that takes the right temp....a quality degreaser (not Dawn) and time. Even non greasy animals require this step to get a "professional grade" product.

From: SBH
19-Feb-19
Powder, whatever your'e doing...its working. Those look great

From: AaronShort
20-Feb-19
Cracks me up watching you tube videos on the "easy euro". Power washer and screw driver to get all the "nose stuff and brains out"! Bugs or simmer either way is just the method used to remove the junk. The quality in the mount comes after that step.

From: Lost Arra
20-Feb-19
No one has mentioned fire ants for skull cleaning.

From: fran
20-Feb-19
I slow boil my own I really like the process from the boil to the display. It's kinda fun to pick it out and see the progress. Then again it has been a learning curve and I can live with the fact that i am not perfect but I do improve with every try If I were looking for perfection I would go to a pro whom also uses beetles and pay to have it done.

From: BTM
20-Feb-19
Stones for me, too! Ever seen the Goat's Head Soup album cover?

From: Live2hunt
21-Feb-19
The Moody Blues and the Who were great also.

From: Ambush
21-Feb-19
Beetles are fine if you don’t mind the cost, plus shipping two ways.

Like other DIY projects it takes some time, care and a method. My skulls are as white as I want or leave a bit more “yellow” for a less “sterile” look.

I like euros and have quite a few, plus bear skulls make great gifts, even to non hunters. Something fascinating about predator skulls for most people. My grandkids have them for school Show’n Tell and never a negative comment.

From: Timbrhuntr
21-Feb-19
I second maceration with the aquarium heater works great just takes a bit more time. Also how can you even mention the Stones in the same breath as the Beatles. Seriously !! Have you ever heard Mick live ! Ouch !

From: loprofile
21-Feb-19
Anyone tried submerging skulls in a yellow submarine.

From: rgb
21-Feb-19

rgb's Link
Has anyone tried this product from Cabela's, called the On-Time Buck Broiler, for euros?

From: drycreek
21-Feb-19
My buddy boils ours and you can't fault them. They look professionally done. The price is right too !

From: Surfbow
21-Feb-19
Live2hunt, good call, The Who>Stones>Beatles

From: Bou'bound
22-Feb-19
Definitely beetles.

From: Shortstop
22-Feb-19
Neither. Maggots! No cost, very clean, much quicker than shipping, and less costly than the energy to boil water!

From: AaronShort
22-Feb-19
I've done 1000's by a simmer method and I would bet my bottom dollar if you put one of my heads next to a head done with beetles there isn't a taxidermist in the country that could tell the difference.

From: ROUGHCOUNTRY
22-Feb-19
I prefer boiling and I've had both done. I do the boiling myself and do so for the following reasons:

1. Protect the bark/rubbing fibers in the bases. Beetles seem to devour them. 2. I don't like the ammonia by-product smell from the beetles. 3. Beetles in my opinion do "too good" of a job and totally eliminate all connective tissue in the skull sutures leaving a loose skull and teeth in some cases.

Like other have stated with boiling, some keys to follow: 1. As fresh as possible and fleshed down as much as possible...ie. eye balls, palate, tongue, meat on back of skull, nearly scraped. 2. Prep the antler bases with strips of aluminum foil and electrician tape over the top to barricade from boiling lines and loss of the rubbing bark and color. 3. I will boil initially but change water 3 or 4 times and start bringing my temperature down. 4. Dawn dish soap for degreasing with some powder laundry detergent to help emulsify the flesh and fat quickly. 5. Power wash as soon as the brains get loose enough and fleshing again between water changes each time. 6. Apply 40 volume peroxide soon after power wash and let it soak into bone AND react in sunlight if possible for whiter results.

It's hard to describe but I try and boil just long enough to get the tissue removed and not enough to eliminate all connective skull suture tissue.

From: Ambush
22-Feb-19
Same as Roughcountry. Dawn and dishwasher pods after the first simmer. Done in one day, then peroxide.

From: skull
23-Feb-19
Beetles is the best way, but if you don’t have any this is Second best way Soda Ash, commonly called Sal Soda, is used to dissolve meat, fat and grease when simmering skulls and antler plates. Simply add Soda Ash to water and immerse the skull or antler plate. NEVER BOILED SKULLS

From: TD
23-Feb-19
The teeth, connective tissue and such are normally an issue from the degreasing process, not the beetles. Almost never lose teeth, etc. in with the beetles. VERY common while degreasing. I put the heads in a paint strainer bag first so as not to lose anything in the degreasing bucket.

If your having bugs do your heads, make sure a degreasing process is used after. Even on "boiled" heads I'd degrease them. I'd say many of the boiled ones I've seen will yellow or get splotchy in time, especially in hot humid climates, as the oils deep in the bone wick out. If done right degreasing gets rid of not only oils and grease but tissue left as well, leaving just bone. Think crock pot and what it does to connective tissue..... times a week or 6..... When the head dries it shrinks too.... most parts stay together after that.

Degreasing deer skulls properly can take a week or two, sometimes more. Many weeks for greasy goats/sheep. Ammonia and dawn at 105-110 degrees.... change it out every 2 or 3 days. Keep doing so until the water stays clear. Boiling doesn't get it all out.

Bugs, then degreased..... when totally dried lots of folks think the heads were whitened already. Make sure it's totally dried from degreasing and it takes the peroxide better. After whitening and drying again, I use what is call Paraloid to seal it. It's what museums use to seal fossil bones. Plastic pellets that dissolve in acetone. Have a five gallon bucket of it ready to go and submerge the head for a minute or two. Pull it out and let it drain/drip-dry.... it soaks into the bone. When the acetone evaporates it leaves the plastic, literally in the bone.

If you're boiling and spray painting them white.....may the Lord have mercy on your soul.....ya heretic.... =D

From: Rickm
23-Feb-19
Slow boil with Borax, carefully pressure wash with the widest spray tip you have and Peroxide paste for 24 hours.

I have had a couple beetled and they may be a bit better but not much if your trying to save money, plus it is satisfying to DIY.

Never had any smell either way.

From: grizzly
24-Feb-19
I would use maggots but its usually too cold for flies by the time I harvest something. The last few I just buried in the ground in November. Dig them back up in August or September and wash them off. Definitely earth stained but if that bothers you, paint em white.

From: grizzly
24-Feb-19

grizzly's embedded Photo
grizzly's embedded Photo

From: Ambush
25-Feb-19

Ambush's embedded Photo
Ambush's embedded Photo
If I didn’t do my own, I’d have a couple grand in shipping and beetle work just on this side of the room.

From: Mule Power
25-Feb-19
Lots of comments and I’ve posted on this thread before. I’ll say this: Once you have a skull done with beetles you’ll never do it any other way.

From: Smtn10PT
25-Feb-19
I have had mine beetled, and I've boiled/simmered my own. Beetles are nice, but not cheap, if you are going to do a bunch get the cheapest electric pressure washer you can and use that. Skin the head and get as much meat/tissue off as you can, drop it in some boiling water w/ dish soap for 20 min and hit it with the pressure washer. Pound a screw driver into the ear buds and pop them out, then put back in the water. After two or three cycles in the water you'll be done. Then you can leave as is, whiten w/peroxide or have them dipped.

From: Hohenzollern
23-Apr-19
Beetle cleaning is a rather effective way to whiten skulls. I decided to dive deeper into cleaning topic recently. And I moved beyond taxidermy. If you see post you'll see a result of work of professional renovators and cleaners who managed to save the R House in California. It inspires me to pay more attention to cleaning.

From: razorsharp
23-Apr-19
If you can put a bucket somewhere that you cant smell it and animals cant get into it, RidX septic powder will eat everything off in a couple weeks maybe 10 days if it is warm out.

From: svrelk
23-Apr-19

svrelk's embedded Photo
Very rare that I can't keep the nasal area completely intact....
svrelk's embedded Photo
Very rare that I can't keep the nasal area completely intact....
I simmer and wash a bunch each year.. if you aren't getting a good result.. you're process is off...

From: Kicker Point
25-Apr-19
Minus a power washer...the amount of time it takes me to boil and pick is saved by having a guy I know do it for $60-70. Time is money.

25-Apr-19
The boil/simmer/beetles debate has become as yuge as mechanical/fixed or modern/traditional. :)

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