Mounting Bear and Boar Skulls – Robert Steenbeke
Bowhunting World June 1990

Thump! That’s as close as I can describe the sound of hitting a 150-
pound wild boar with a pickup truck.
I know what that sounds like because I
did it, not on purpose mind you,
but I did it. Of course, hitting a wild animal with a
truck in Texas is noting unusual.

During any average 24-hour period in the Hill Country
there are nearly 100 animal/vehicle mishaps.
What happened after my collision however, was
quite unusual, and it leads nicely into my taxidermy
story, so let me tell you about it.

The boar wasn’t killed by the impact of my truck
and kept on going, crashing through a fence and into
a whitebrush thicket. When I backed up and got out
of my truck I could hear him in the thicket, growling
like a cornered dog. The only weapon I had in the
truck was my bow, so I hesitated to go into the brush
after him. I just couldn’t let the animal suffer
though, if indeed he was, so I started checking things
out. What made me wonder about his suffering or
not was the fact that the growling did not sound hurt,
just mad as the devil and looking for revenge. If I had
not found any blood at the scene I probably would
have left, but I did find blood on the fence, and a few
drops were also visible on the other side. Since I had
permission to hunt that thicket, I decided to try to do
something about the situation.

Clutching my bow, I made a circle downwind of
the growling. Thirty yards into the thicket, facing his
backtrail, there stood the hog, except he was only
using three legs, and one of those didn’t look too
steady. Slowly, I stalked to within 20 yards of him
and looked for a hole to put the arrow through. I
thought I found one big enough and let the arrow go,
but I ticked a limb and hit a little far back from where
I wanted to. Still, the shot looked good and I didn’t
figure he was going too far.

After an unproductive search for my arrow, I took
up the blood trail. I had gone about 50 yards when I
spotted a rabbit. It was an easy shot to make, so I
took the broadhead off the bow and put on a washer
backed field point. Just as I got the field point on the
bow I heard a grunt. Looking up, I saw the boar,
coming for me as fast as three legs could carry him,
his mouth wide open and looking like he had a hundred
teeth, each a foot long. I was scared, I don’t
mind telling you, but having absolutely nowhere to
go in that whitebrush thicket, I drew back the bow
and let him come. When he was where I knew I
couldn’t miss, I looked him in the eyes and let go of
the shaft. Fortunately, I got close to my mark,
smacking him in the bridge of the nose and passing
through into the throat, stopping the charge but not
dropping him. The hog then crashed into the brush
where the arrow hung him up just long enough for
me to get another arrow on the bow, off the bow, and
into him. This shot was right where it belonged, and
as the animal turned to run away, he stumbled; four
steps later he went down for good.

That late Spring afternoon is one I will never forget,
I guarantee you that, but still I wanted to have
some permanent memento of it. I decided that the
hog’s skull would do just fine, arrow hole and all.
This is the step by step of how I mounted it, and this
procedure works equally well on cougar, bear, wolf
or most any critter without antlers or horns.

Step 1: Using a small razor-sharp knife, cape out
the skull. Start at the mouth, opening it up and cutting
where the lips are connected to the base of the
gums in both the upper and lower jaws. Cut and peel
the skin from here up over the nose, and clown
around the lower jaw. It will start to get difficult
where the skull widens just in front of the eyes. At
that point, switch to the neck end of the skull and cut
and peel from there. Once you have the skin off, cut
off as much meat and connective tissue as possible.

Step 2: Boil water in a pot that will hold the entire
skull. When boiling rapidly, add two teaspoons of
Borax per quart of water, then put in the skull and
jaw. Let the water come back to a boil for 20 minutes.

Step 3: After 20 minutes of reboiling, remove the
skull and jaw. Using a hot pad and channel—lock pliers,
carefully remove the front teeth back to and including
the canine teeth. Pour the water used for
boiling through some kind of strainer to catch any
teeth that may have come loose and fallen out.

Step 4: Let everything air cool. Do not try to rush
cooling by pouring cold water on things or they will
most probably crack. Once it’s all cool, you will
need to either clean the pieces up. Use a wire brush
and/ or DULL knife to clean all the loose teeth. Use a
sharp knife to finish removing every bit of
flesh, including the eyes and tongue, from the
skull. The brain is then removed with a drill
and a whip made from a coat hanger. This will
break it up, and then a garden hose will blow
it out. Now, let everything dry for about a
week, longer if it’s very humid.

Step 5: While the skull and jaw are drying,
out out a plaque to mount them on. Make the
plaque big enough to stabilize the mount, but
not so big that it makes the skull look small, 2-
3 inches of space around the skull is about
right. For a more professional look, router the
edge of the plaque. Complete the plaque by
using a good prestain sealer, stain, and finish
that matches your decor. Follow the directions
given by the manufacturers of the products you
choose to use. They want your repeat
business, so they tell you the best ways to get
me best results.

Step 6: When the skull is done drying use
2 wire brush to remove the last little bits of
flesh and tissue that are still left, and to prepare
the surface for painting. Brush on a good
quality prestain wood sealer and let it dry to
complete the preparations for painting.

Step 7: Use a good quality, appliance
white spray enamel to paint the skull and jaw.
Apply several light coats rather than one thick
one, since a thick coat will run. Let each coat
dry thoroughly before applying the next or the
paint will peel. And, be sure to paint the parts
from every angle, People always seem to notice any
little spot that you miss.

Step 8: After the paint dries thoroughly,
set the teeth back into the jaw using clear silicon
sealant/adhesive. Wash your hands well
before handling the skull or jaw to minimize
ugly fingerprints. While resetting the teeth,
you will find that you can reset them with less
root, making them appear longer than they
actually were. In my personal opinion
though, they look really fake when they are
too long. It also makes assembly harder since
the bottom jaw will need to set forward of normal
to allow for the extra length. Experiment
with the length until everything fits together
firmly, yet you get the tooth length that you
want to show.

Step 9: Assemble the skull and jaw and
position them on the plaque exactly where you
want them to wind up. Find a bolt which,
when the skull is on the plaque, will reach
through the plaque and about 3/4 of the way
through the brain cavity. Remove the skull!
jaw and drill a hole through the plaque for the
bolt, right under where the brain cavity will
wind up. Countersink this hole so the mount
won`t sir up off the table or wall.

Step 10: Put the bolt through the hole,
tighten it into place with a washer and nut on
top of the plaque, then put a dab of paint or ink
on the top of it. Carefully lower the skull/jaw
onto the plaque exactly above the spot you
want it to sit. The ink will mark a spot on the
bottom of the skull where you should drill a
hole for the bolt. Be careful not to drill all the
way through the skull. Drill and countersink a
second hole through the plaque, right be-
tween the jaws and under the bridge of the
nose. Then repeat the bolt, skull, ink trick
again, using a bolt that goes 3/4 of the way
through the nasal cavities.

Step 11: We are now ready for final assembly.
Turn the skull upside down on a soft
towel or rag to prevent skuffing the paint job.
Fill the two holes you drilled in the skull with
silicon sealant/adhesive. Put the bolt assembly
into place and allow l2 hours to dry before
turning the mount over. Tum it over and
presto! , you have a mount to be proud of.
Felting the bottom of the plaque makes a truly
professional looking table top display, or add
thin rubber pads to the bottom and use as
bookends when you get two of them, or add
hanging hardware and use as a wall mount.

They all look great, and are sure to be a conversation starter. >>—>

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