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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I guess this is the best place to post this on the site. I've got a couple of sets of antlers (whitetail) that still have the hide and fur attached between the antlers on the top of the skull. What's the best way to get this off? One set has dried for nearly a year and the hide is pretty hard and tough to remove. Would soaking in water help?

The other has been on a little over a week. I put them in a fire ant bed hopping they would do the dirty work but so far they have been nearly as lazy about it as I have!

Any suggestions on an easy way to strip it off? Or is it just a sharp knife and elbow grease (how I've done it before). I usually do it right after a kill but I blew it on these two and hope somebody can show me an easy way out!
 

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I think I'd try lightly boiling them in water with a few drops of Dawn dish soap and Clorox bleach, just long enough to soften and loosen the skin without opening the sutures of the skull. Then use knife, screwdriver, and pliers to pull the skin off. Let us know what you finally do and how it works out.
 
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SC Reb, a very good question. I need to do the same thing. I may be getting one of the plastic skull mounts for last years deer. I think they only require cutting the antlers off at the base. That may make things simple for me. I have never attempted to remove the hide on a season set. Its not to hard to do it soon after harvested. I am interest in the answers too.
 

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Yes the light boil, but no bleach as this will discolor the antlers at the base and weaken the skull. This may take awhile as in a few hours. Best to do outside with a set-up like to deep fry a turkey. Try to keep antlers out of the water to prevent discoloration, maybe cover pot & skull with foil. This is how I do my European mounts, but when fresh.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yes the light boil, but no bleach as this will discolor the antlers at the base and weaken the skull. This may take awhile as in a few hours. Best to do outside with a set-up like to deep fry a turkey. Try to keep antlers out of the water to prevent discoloration, maybe cover pot & skull with foil. This is how I do my European mounts, but when fresh.
Thanks for the advice guys! Should I add a few drops of Dawn with the water? And how long before you have to worry about the sutures softening? I'm wondering if just soaking it without the heat would be safer?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well I have the most recent one of them pretty well cleaned with a minimum of effort. Can't claim any credit for it though. My daughter's dog did the honors! He found them half buried in the fire ant bed, pulled them out and proceeded to gnaw virtually all the remaining hide off. (Did I mention his nickname is Stooopid!) How he managed to do that without being stung half to death, I don't know. Thankfully he doesn't seem to have damaged the antlers. I found them in the driveway tonight. Luckily no one ran over them!

Now I just need to do the one that's been dry for a year. Don't think I'll let him have another go at those!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
It's a lot of work even with boiling. Lots of brushing and scraping. I've done a couple of whole skulls. There may be one but I don't know of any other way than elbow grease.
grilla720,

What are you brushing with? Wire brush of some sort?
 

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A pair of fencing pliers will pry it off a little bit at a time. I've used dull horse shoeing nippers which are basically the same thing.
 

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grilla720,

What are you brushing with? Wire brush of some sort?
Yes, I used a small wire brush and a razor blade for scraping after I got the majority of it off with a knife and pliers. I honestly don't know that boiling helped; it may have been just as easy dry. I am interested in gunrunners dremel idea though. I think that would work pretty good.
 

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Id get me a box cutter and some small snips and a set of needle nose.
with em dry and have it off in 30 mins.
Dremel tool works moe better though.:biggrin:
And Bettels better than that.
View attachment 119225 View attachment 119226
You can buy those beetles for $50/300 not a bad deal considering the work you'd have to do to do that good of a job. Still cheaper than having someone do it for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Yes, I used a small wire brush and a razor blade for scraping after I got the majority of it off with a knife and pliers. I honestly don't know that boiling helped; it may have been just as easy dry. I am interested in gunrunners dremel idea though. I think that would work pretty good.
I do have a Dremel. I would think that the speed would cause burning and make it stink more than a little bit!
 

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One thing I've learned about using a dremel in woodworking is just because it will do 30,000 RPM don't mean it needs to run there. I do better on the 2nd or 3rd speed settings. Much less burning and more control. I can't help thinking a carbide cutter on low speed would get the majority of the meat off and a sanding drum would clean it up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Well finally did the one that has been dry for about a year or more tonight. A pain in the a**. Took a couple of hours. I didn't boil or moisten but did it dry. Started with a small flat bladed screwdriver and forced it between the rawhide and the skull plate, working it from various different edges until the tip could nearly meet in the middle. Used the screwdriver to wiggle and pry enough to expose a gap. Then used a finely serrated steak knife to further trim in and around the antlers. The steak knife really helped, acting more like a small saw and enabling the tough hide to be cut off of the bone and then split down the center plate to roll to either side. Then used the serrated blade to trim remaining areas and scrape anything left.

Once the majority was off (everything with hair), I broke out the Dremel tool and a cone shaped grinding stone and used it to clean up anything still attached and to get the tip in to areas that were a bit tight. It did stink, even on low speed. Reminded me of the smell a dentist drill makes. Ugh!

Final product was fine but a lot more effort than I had hoped. I think anyone would be better served by doing it asap after the kill.
 

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Hey, great video. Brings back memories of the Decomp Room at the Philadelphia Medical Examiner's Office. You never forget that smell... It sticks to your clothes, your hair, and your skin. Takes days to go away. There nothing else like it.
 
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