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PostPosted: 16 Dec 2014, 10:54 
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What is the best or proper way to clean skulls and to remove teeth without doing damage to them?

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PostPosted: 16 Dec 2014, 11:14 
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Richard we do this a lot. Heres our method. We remove all tissue from the skull, eyes and brain included but the bleach bath will soften and sometimes dissolve them. We made a "tray" out of scrap heavy screen wire with a clothes hanger wire coming off each corner to meet high in the middle about 1 1/2' above the tray. Theres some odor involved but i know some that "cook" the skull in the house. We boil the skull for 15min in the tray with bleach added to the water. We dont measure it but in our 3 gallon pot its probably 3 or so cups of bleach and after about 4 or 5 coon skulls we add more. Its easier to do one skull at a time as sometimes the teeth fall out into the tray. Not a hard rolling boil, just a heavy summer. My 8 yr old loves the puzzle of sorting the teeth back. Elmer's glue holds them fine once everythings cooled. On bigger skulls, deer, yotes etc sometimes another 5-15min helps and ive had to do stubborn deer for an hour before. The skull is fairly fragile until it cools too. Espescially the sinus bones. Once its dry some "paint" the skull with bleach and you can also use a whitewash on it.

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PostPosted: 16 Dec 2014, 11:17 
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The only way I've heard how people do that was to boil the head in water till all the meat comes off then they put in peroxide to whiten. I never tried it, just going from here say. What do you want with the teeth?


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PostPosted: 16 Dec 2014, 12:39 
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I cant answer for Richard Wolf but if your selling skulls the teeth are the big selling point here. Only thing we've been able to do with toothless skulls is sell them to taxidermist for dioramas etc or to snake raisers but usually the value is a lot less. Nice clean yote with teeth varies but $5-$12 i the norm depending on how many they want etc but toothless about a buck. Deer skulls are the only exception, theyre about the same value either way, of course it depends on the intended use.

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PostPosted: 16 Dec 2014, 13:27 
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I don't know about what your looking for Richard but I do alot of european mounted buck heads for friends. I use to cut, pick, and clean as much stuff off the skull as I could before boiling but no more. For a deer, I just clean all of the hair off and then in to the pot. I BOIL it for 1:45 and that seems to work for me. I then scrape and pick off everything but the bones. The most fragile part of the deer is the small bone around the bottom of the nose. Normally one or sometimes both fall off so after cleaning and rinsing off, I slide them back in to place before drying. After they dry in place, they are pretty sturdy but you could put a dab of glue on them if you'd like. I hang them up to dry for a day and then in to the peroxide/powder bleach/water mixture for several days to soak. After about 3 days of soaking in this mixture I will rinse it off again and then hang in front of a window to dry in the sun. I've done this with everything from bird skulls to beaver to bobcats. Time frame is just trial with things that I have never done before but when you pull them out of the boiling water and start picking, you will soon be able to tell if it need to boil longer. I hope this was some help.


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PostPosted: 16 Dec 2014, 14:58 
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I tried cleaning a few muskrat skulls, and what I did was put them in a sealed container with water, and left it for 8 months or so. I knew it was done when the top blew off the container and knocked it over and I found skulls on the ground :wink:

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PostPosted: 16 Dec 2014, 15:16 
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longhairboy wrote:
I tried cleaning a few muskrat skulls, and what I did was put them in a sealed container with water, and left it for 8 months or so. I knew it was done when the top blew off the container and knocked it over and I found skulls on the ground :wink:

:lol: :lol: :lol: :mrgreen:

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PostPosted: 16 Dec 2014, 16:30 
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wolf1199 wrote:
What do you want with the teeth?

Been hearing that there is a market for teeth. Don't know if a bullet hole in the skull is something you can sell, so thought I would pull the teeth and keep them for future cash and plus I plan to get more involved in the craft making during the off season. The skulls that don't have any damage I will keep the teeth intact with the skulls. Getting a pretty good collection of skulls in the freezer. Always a little room for extra cash in the pocket. :wink:

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PostPosted: 16 Dec 2014, 16:33 
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Swamp Rat wrote:
longhairboy wrote:
I tried cleaning a few muskrat skulls, and what I did was put them in a sealed container with water, and left it for 8 months or so. I knew it was done when the top blew off the container and knocked it over and I found skulls on the ground :wink:

:lol: :lol: :lol: :mrgreen:

x2 :shock: :lol: :P

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PostPosted: 16 Dec 2014, 16:37 
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carpcatcher wrote:
I don't know about what your looking for Richard but I do alot of european mounted buck heads for friends. I use to cut, pick, and clean as much stuff off the skull as I could before boiling but no more. For a deer, I just clean all of the hair off and then in to the pot. I BOIL it for 1:45 and that seems to work for me. I then scrape and pick off everything but the bones. The most fragile part of the deer is the small bone around the bottom of the nose. Normally one or sometimes both fall off so after cleaning and rinsing off, I slide them back in to place before drying. After they dry in place, they are pretty sturdy but you could put a dab of glue on them if you'd like. I hang them up to dry for a day and then in to the peroxide/powder bleach/water mixture for several days to soak. After about 3 days of soaking in this mixture I will rinse it off again and then hang in front of a window to dry in the sun. I've done this with everything from bird skulls to beaver to bobcats. Time frame is just trial with things that I have never done before but when you pull them out of the boiling water and start picking, you will soon be able to tell if it need to boil longer. I hope this was some help.

What's the best way to get the brain matter out? Careful picking?

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PostPosted: 16 Dec 2014, 17:08 
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Richard Murray wrote:
wolf1199 wrote:
What do you want with the teeth?

Been hearing that there is a market for teeth. Don't know if a bullet hole in the skull is something you can sell, so thought I would pull the teeth and keep them for future cash and plus I plan to get more involved in the craft making during the off season. The skulls that don't have any damage I will keep the teeth intact with the skulls. Getting a pretty good collection of skulls in the freezer. Always a little room for extra cash in the pocket. :wink:


Yep your right Richard, a trapper has to do the little extra to make some pocket money. I do that with my beaver tail and castor. Just an added bonus. As far as the teeth the dentist are not interested around these parts for me supplying them with teeth from my critters when they do dentures. :mrgreen: . It would be nice to see some body wearing a set of dentures with my beaver two front teeth in the middle. They could be sold as discount teeth. :lol:


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PostPosted: 16 Dec 2014, 17:31 
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My method is very similar to backwoodsman's. You have to be careful not to boil the skulls or they will fall apart, just a good simmer. Usually the brain matter has to be picked out, but after simmering you can usually just shake it out . Also , you have to be very careful using bleach. too much bleach , especially if not diluted, will eat away the bones, and even after they dry, they will be " flaky " , with white constantly rubbing or falling off. After I get all the meat off, I prefer to soak them in hydrogen peroxide to whiten them. Sometimes , however, peroxide is not enough, and I will have to soak them in diluted bleach for a short time, but then rinse well and put in peroxide. The best way to get them really white is direct sunlight.

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PostPosted: 16 Dec 2014, 20:10 
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Thanks guys, I really appreciate all of the replies! :D Am going to give this a go when season is over, if I goof up I have plenty fo extra's to get it right. Will start on coons or yotes since I have the most of them. :D Don't want to goof up a cat or badger. :evil: :wink:

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PostPosted: 17 Dec 2014, 00:14 
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What do ya'll think about a thread in the Campfire with ideas or what we do for alternatives to the fur market or by products of our traplines n hunting trips?

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PostPosted: 17 Dec 2014, 00:45 
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Backwoodsmansback wrote:
What do ya'll think about a thread in the Campfire with ideas or what we do for alternatives to the fur market or by products of our traplines n hunting trips?

Sounds like a good idea Back. Knowing what others do for extra change might help another to make a little or even arts and crafts that some of us might make or create. 8)

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PostPosted: 17 Dec 2014, 08:29 
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Richard Murray wrote:
What's the best way to get the brain matter out? Careful picking?

Yeo, alot of picking but mostly shaking the skull real hard will get it out. I use a pair of forceps from my fishing gear to get in to the little cracks and holes. As for the bleach I use, it's the powder kind that hair stylists use so its not real strong stuff and you don't have to worry about it eating away at the bones. I've had some in the solution for weeks and it they still come out fine.


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PostPosted: 17 Dec 2014, 08:43 
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carpcatcher wrote:
Richard Murray wrote:
What's the best way to get the brain matter out? Careful picking?

Yeo, alot of picking but mostly shaking the skull real hard will get it out. I use a pair of forceps from my fishing gear to get in to the little cracks and holes. As for the bleach I use, it's the powder kind that hair stylists use so its not real strong stuff and you don't have to worry about it eating away at the bones. I've had some in the solution for weeks and it they still come out fine.

Cool beans! Where do you get a powder bleach for stylists at? Never knew there was such a thing. The things people will put on themselves. :shock:

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PostPosted: 17 Dec 2014, 08:55 
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My mother is a hair stylist (still going strong at 70) so she just gets it for me when she orders stuff. You can get it at any hair supply store though.


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PostPosted: 17 Dec 2014, 08:57 
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Thanks Carp! :wink:

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PostPosted: 17 Dec 2014, 18:39 
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Something else you can do is called Maceration. Now if you are married it may result in a divorce. So be careful.
Put the skull in a bucket of water. Preferably from a creek or pond. Give it a shake every day or so. It takes quite awhile. But all the flesh will dissolved and fall off. It is nasty and stinks bad. But it works pretty well.
The teeth will fall out on there own. That will happen pretty much with any method. But you need to coat them with olive oil or something like that to keep them from drying out and cracking.

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PostPosted: 17 Dec 2014, 19:14 
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Thanks for the tips woods. :wink:

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PostPosted: 17 Dec 2014, 23:59 
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Couple things I forgot. There is a small market for the claws.
Also don't use regular bleach on the skulls. It weakens the bone.

They don't pay much but you may look into Moscow hide and fur. They buy some odds and ends. Not
high prices. But its a bit extra.

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Fox------2
Coon----1


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PostPosted: 18 Dec 2014, 01:18 
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Woodswalker wrote:
Couple things I forgot. There is a small market for the claws.
Also don't use regular bleach on the skulls. It weakens the bone.

They don't pay much but you may look into Moscow hide and fur. They buy some odds and ends. Not
high prices. But its a bit extra.

I just pm you on this quote.lol. Must have hit the wrong button and did not realize it. Oh well. :lol:

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PostPosted: 18 Dec 2014, 01:28 
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LOL. Oh well. I decided to post the same link here that I PMed back to you.

If anybody is interested. This is what Moscow hide and fur buys and how they want it prepared.
If you read through it gives you a good idea on how to prepare certain items. That's how I learned
about putting oil on the teeth to prevent cracking.

http://www.furbuyer.com/HowWeBuy.html

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Fox------2
Coon----1


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PostPosted: 18 Dec 2014, 12:52 
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Do you have an email address for them? I want to see if theres anything they can do for us Canucks, I would save all my skulls for them if they could, I could probably even get them from other trappers

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Geese-13
Grouse-1
Squirrel-6
Coon-4
Muskrat-8 (1 eaten)
Mink-1 (ranched)



Check out my youtube channel? I'm retroslickbass. I have some videos of me playin piano and bass in church!!

http://www.youtube.com/user/retroslickb ... rid&view=0 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul. Mark 8:36


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