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Have you ever wanted to learn how to make your very own European mount of your recent big game harvest But weren’t sure where to start? We’ll show you how easy it is!
The European Mount | A Great DIY Opportunity
On a recent bow hunt trip to South Georgia, my partners and I had identified a wide 6-point with spindly antlers and very small brow tines, as a buck that we felt like would be a good one to go ahead and harvest if given the opportunity.
Well, that opportunity presented itself the very next morning, as I was able to able to take this buck with my bow at about 12 yards, which is always fun and always a blessing.
However, this management buck was not one I was going to take to the the taxidermist.
So, we felt like this would be a great opportunity to show those of you at home how to do your very own European mount.
The “euro mount” process is not near as difficult as it might seem. You can do the entire process as home for as little as $10.
In the below video, N1 Outdoors® co-founder, Josh Wells, teaches you the Euro mount process, step-by-step. Be sure you watch to the end of the video where Josh teaches you how to prep the head and the skull for this process that he shows you. We hope you learn something. Enjoy!
Supplies You’ll Need To Make A European Mount
We’ve got a few essential materials that you will need to do European mount. I will go through those with you in just a second.
I want you to know that I’m not a taxidermist. I’m not a professional doing this. But, I have done it several times and over the years and through trial and error, have figured out some of the best practices in doing a Euro mount.
A few supplies that you are going to need to the European mount are obviously, a knife to skin the head from the skull, a good set of forceps, a screw driver.
You will also need two quarts of hydrogen peroxide and some liquid dish soap. You’ll also need some dark wood stain, masking tape, clear shrink wrap, and a pitcher or a big cup to add water to the pot as it’s boiling.
Knife for skinning
2 Quarts Hydrogen Peroxide
Liquid Dish Soap
Dark Wood Stain
Clear Shrink Wrap
How To Make A Euro Mount Step-By-Step
Time needed: 5 hours.
How to do your own European mount…
Remove the skin of the deer head
Using your knife, remove the skin from the deer head and remove the lower jaw.
Boil the skull
Add 1/4 cup of liquid dish soap to the water in the pot you will boil the skull in. On a very slow boil, simmer the skull for 4 hours.
After you remove the skull from the water, use your knife and forceps to remove eyes, tissue and tendons from the skull. Use the screwdriver to remove the ear buds so you can access the brain cavity. Remove the sinus tissue with the forceps. Use a water hose to spray in the brain cavity to remove the brain tissue.
Add 2 quarts of hydrogen peroxide to your boiling water.
Use shrink wrap to wrap around the bases of the antlers to protect them from being bleached. Secure the plastic wrap with masking tape.
Boil skull again for 30 minutes
Put the skull back in the water containing the peroxide for another 30 minutes.
Remove shrink wrap and touch up as needed
Remove the deer skull from the boiling water and touch up the bases of the antlers with the dark wood stain if there has been any bleaching.
This whole process will take about 5 hours. You will boil the skull on a very low boil for 4 hours. Then, you’ll need to budget about 30 minutes or an hour for cleanup and for bleaching the skull (bleaching will take about 30 minutes.)
The key to the process is the 4 hour boiling time. If you do it for 3 hours, it’s not going to come off as good. Slow simmer for 4 hours works best. If you boil it too hard, it’s going to weaken the bone and you’re going to break some bones. So, be sure it’s a slow simmer. Don’ try to do it too fast.
Remove Meat and Tendons
After 4 hours of boiling the skull in the liquid dish soap, the meat around the skull will be very tender. You just work your knife in and remove the meat and the tendons as best as you can. Much of the meat will just fall away during this process.
You don’t want to get too aggressive with it because you can pop a bone loose.
The most aggravating part is around the eye sockets because all the eye sockets connect to the inside of the skull in the brain (we’ll cover how we are going to get the brains out shortly) and it makes them a little bit harder to get to.
Remove The Ear Buds
All After you’ve gotten all the meat scraped off, it’s now time to pop the ear buds out. This is how we get the brains out.
Take your screwdriver and work it around in the ear buds and pop them out.
Remove Sinus Tissue
Now use the forceps to remove all the sinus tissue.
You need to get everything out of the sinus cavity because anything that you leave, will cause the bone to turn yellow. It may take two or three years for it to happen, but I’ve had it happen.
Be gentle while the skull is hot, because if you are too rough while removing the tissue, you could break the bone.
And, if you do break the bone, don’t worry. Sometimes the bones at the bottom of the nose will come loose if these tendons get cooked too long. If they do, you can put them back with super glue. So, don’t worry if they come off. You can super glue them back.
Get as much of the sinus tissue as you can from the front side and then you can get the rest under the brain cavity.
Remove The Brain
Once you get the ear buds popped out and you get the sinus cleaned out, you’re going to need a water hose to rinse out the brain tissue.
Some people will use a pressure washer for this step. I don’t like using a pressure washer because if you’re not careful, you can damage the bone.
Put the water hose into the hole where the brain is located and flush out the brain matter. Anything left over will break loose once we boil the skull for the second time in the peroxide.
Prep Antlers And Boil Skull In Peroxide
Once you are finished rinsing the brain matter out of the brain cavity, it’s time to boil the skull for a second time in order to bleach the bone white.
Add two quarts of hydrogen peroxide to the existing pot of water.
Wrap the base of each antler tightly with shrink wrap and secure it with masking tape. There’s not really any particular way that you need to do this other than to just get them wrapped from the base up to the bottom of the brow tine.
Once the skull is placed into the boiling water, the plastic wrap will shrink tightly to the antlers and keep out the majority of the water. Some water may find its way through and that’s why we have the dark stain.
We can come back and if some of these darker parts around the base get bleached a little bit, we just use a q-tip to re-color it and you’ll never know the difference.
Once the antlers have been adequately wrapped, place the skull back into the boiling water and peroxide for 30 minutes.
The Finishing Touches
After the 30-minute boil in the peroxide and water, remove the skull and take the plastic wrap off.
The plastic wrap will seem sticky and gummy, sticking tightly to the antlers. And, that’s what you wanted to do because that keeps the peroxide off of the antlers and prevents it from bleaching.
If there has been any unwanted bleaching on the base of the antlers, use a very small amount of the dark wood stain and apply to those areas with a q-tip. You can repeat as many times as you like to get the desired darkness.
But, how do you get the skin off the skull initially?
I wanted to go back and cover the preparation process of the skull before you even start to boil it.
Obviously, you have to cut the deer’s head off. And preferably, you would want to cut it at the last vertebra that connects to the back of the skull. (Normally what happens because the deer’s neck and ears compressed on the spine, is that most people naturally cut about one vertebra back, so you have to two things to cut off before you can start boiling the skull.)
The place you want to be careful about is this lobe on the back of the skull where the brains are. Be careful not to cut into that lobe. Just use it as a guiding point as you cut. Once you cut around it, you will be able to remove the last vertebra.
But while the deer head is lying on the ground, get your knife between the teeth and just cut back toward the back of the head. There’s going to be meat back there, so you want to cut that on both sides, so that you can open the deer’s mouth.
Once you’ve cut, pull the jaw all the way back until the bones that joined up under the brain cavity are loosened. Then then you can remove the meat from around those bones and pop that bottom jaw off.
Now, you are ready to start boiling!
We hope you’ve enjoyed this instructional article and video on how to do your very own European mount. We hope you have a great deer hunting season, and remember… where moments happen, we’ll meet you there!
The dropping of the antlers may take place within 24 to 48 hours, but the entire shedding process may take as long as two to three weeks before the antlers actually fall off. Then, throughout the summer, new antlers will regenerate.
The shedding and regrowth of a deer’s antlers is an amazing process.
Read on and let’s take a deeper look into deer antlers, how they are used, and the shedding process in general…
What are those antlers used for anyway?
Male deer, or “bucks,” use their antlers as a weapon, whether to compete for a mate, or to defend themselves. They also use their antlers to display their physiological fitness and to show off their fertility and strength.
Bucks will violently clash their sets of antlers during the breeding season, or “the rut,” to display their strength and dominance. This can sometimes lead to broken antlers, bloody deer, and sometimes even death.
Because of the competitiveness that takes place during this time, bucks with the largest set of antlers (referred to as a “rack) often position themselves to be in the right place at the right time, as a female deer (doe) comes into estrous and becomes ready to be bred.
Increasing levels of testosterone, in addition to decreasing daylight hours, are among the major factors contributing to antler growth during the summer months.
Considered as the most extravagant display of a male deer’s sexual traits, these antlers grow much faster than any other bones among mammals.
A deer’s antlers grow from an attachment section on its skull known as a pedicle. Antler growth starts at the tip and initially forms as a cartilage, which is later replaced by a bone-like tissue that is similar to a honeycomb.
During the growth period, the pedicle is covered with a highly vascular skin, called “velvet,” that supplies nutrients and oxygen to the developing bones.
During summer, deer antlers grow rapidly within two to four months and – according to Peter Yang, PhD, associate professor of orthopedics at Stanford University School of Medicine, they can grow up to 2 cm per day. During this process, the antlers eventually mineralize and harden.
But then, once peak levels of testosterone are reached, a deceleration of the growth rate of a buck’s antlers occurs.
During this period of peaking testosterone, the veins and arteries surrounding the velvet cut blood flow and supply of nutrients to the antlers. Because of lack of blood and nutrients, the velvet that encases the antlers wastes away and falls off when the deer rub their antlers on trees. This is often referred to as the shedding of velvet.
Because of their rapid growth rate, antlers may be a disadvantage because there is an enormous need for good nutrition in order for a buck to regrow them every year. But, this can also signify a buck’s metabolic efficiency and superior food gathering capability.
So, now you know how they grow, but why do deer antlers eventually fall off?
WHY do deer shed their antlers?
So, we’ve explored how the antlers grow, but why do deer shed them later on?
In exactly the opposite way that bucks grow their antlers, the shedding of those same antlers among bucks is triggered by decreasing testosterone following the rut, as well as increasing minutes of daylight.
In the wild, injuries and nutrition also play a huge part in the antler shedding process. For example, a healthier buck loses its antlers at a much later period compared to a weaker deer.
The pedicle, or mounting point, where these antlers are attached and grow from, is also the location where the antlers break off.
Just as rising testosterone levels triggered antler growth at the pedicle, a drop in testosterone levels will cause the pedicle to weaken and eventually, the antlers will fall off.
WHEN do deer shed their antlers?
The particular time a buck will discard its antlers may be largely determined by its individual shedding cycle. This is separate from other bucks’ antler cycles and is possibly centered on its birth date.
In Mississippi, a study conducted among individual penned bucks found that they shed their racks about the same week every year. Other research studies on captive deer discovered that bucks often shed both horns three days apart of each other.
Most bucks will retain their antlers through the winter and into the early Spring and then start shedding their racks anywhere between January and April. Some bucks may shed their antlers earlier or later depending on the maturity of the deer, its physical condition, and the habitat where they live.
Photoperiodism is the physiological response of different organisms to the length of night or day. This happens both in plants and animals. Among bucks, photoperiods occur alongside the testosterone to grow the antlers and define when they will fall off.
Testosterone levels increase during the development and the ensuing shedding of the antler velvet. As the seasons start to change, the biological reaction of antler shedding is activated.
Genes also help define early or late growth and shedding of antlers, mainly due to family history which may have an influence on the overall health of the deer.
In general, a deer will lose its antlers during the same time period each year, except for other factors such as health conditions or injuries.
Emotional factors can also play a part in the deer antler shedding process. Just like humans, deer experience social anxiety which may have a negative impact on their health condition and lead to earlier shedding.
Other factors such as weather, altitude, and food availability may also influence when antler shedding takes place.
Some scientists believe that the shedding process is necessary in order for bucks to replace broken or damaged antlers. If a deer has to live with a broken beam or cracked tines his entire life, he will not have the necessary tool to fight off rivals or have the stance to attract does. New racks can grow anywhere from ten to thirty inches bigger every year and this allows bucks to also keep up with their increasing girth and weight as they mature.
How long does it take a deer to shed its antlers?
The duration of the shedding process all depends on how fast a buck decreases its testosterone levels. In most cases, this may happen in less than two to three days.
Although the antlers may appear solidly fixed, they may start to loosen up rapidly as the mating season progresses and natural physiological cycles happen.
After a while, an abrupt jerking actions or a sudden scare from nearby predator can cause enough force to cause the antlers to fall off. The muscle is no longer tough enough to support the weight of the rack, and as a result, the antlers simply fall off.
As the connecting tissue withers and shrinks, the antlers become loose and fall off. In areas with an early mating season, testosterone levels of bucks will decrease earlier, causing some bucks to cast their antlers off at an earlier time than usual. A harsh winter with a tons of snow can also cause stressed deer to shed racks earlier.
Compared to younger bucks, many older bucks shed antlers earlier. After the mating season, the decreased levels of testosterone cause the formation of an abscission layer between the pedicles and antlers.
In general, bucks in peak physical condition will hang on to their racks much longer than weaker bucks. Their prime health allows them to have stronger tissue and maintain a better physical condition causing a higher than normal antler to head stability.
Late shedding may also be caused by several other factors. Changing deer populations in a specific location may play a large part in later shedding. Low population indicates antler shedding may not reach its peak until late March or April.
First year bucks that reach the right rearing weight during their first winter will experience the estrous cycle, the recurring biological changes that are produced by reproductive hormones. This will keep the testosterone level of a deer higher for a longer period of time, which may lengthen the amount of time a buck will keep its antlers.
Other Facts About Antler Shedding
Individual deer also have unique shedding patterns. It is also worth knowing that some equatorial deer never shed their antlers regardless of the condition.
In the past, people believed that deer look for a more secluded area to shed their antlers, away from does and rival bucks to avoid public display of their loss of virility.
But, researchers debunk that idea saying that bucks are probably oblivious of when and where they will lose their antlers, although some may follow a regular pattern depending on the conditions.
Some deer will drop both antlers, if undisturbed, almost on top of each other each year. However, some bucks will drop their racks anywhere from a hundred to four hundred yards apart from each other.
The process of deer antler growth as well as the shedding process is truly an amazing occurrence. So, next time you come across a deer antler in the woods, remember, it went through a lot just to be there!
You’re driving down the road when you see a deer in headlights… But, what kind of deer is it? After all, there’s more to deer than just antlers.
Otherwise known as Cervidae, the deer family is pretty broad. In fact, there are 43 species of deer.
But with members ranging from whitetail, elk, reindeer, red deer, and every dear deer in-between, how are you supposed to tell the difference?
Let’s explore the fundamental differences between 9 of the types of deer you’re likely to either encounter or hear about.
1. Whitetail Deer
This medium-sized mammal is native to the Americas, weighing in at anywhere from under 100 lbs to over 300 lbs.
Doe (female deer) can weigh anywhere between under 100 lbs to 200 lbs.
White-tailed deer can sometimes be challenging to identify at first glance, as their coats change color seasonally. They can be found with reddish-brown coats under the summer sun, trading these in for more grayish-brown substitutes as winter closes in.
The white-tailed deer, usually referred to simply as the whitetail, earned its name thanks to the prominent white marking under its tail. (If a whitetail deer has piebaldism, it can lead to some unique and stunning markings.)
While the whitetail’s tail is primarily used to warn fellow deer when danger is near, this white marking also helps explorers and hunters distinguish the whitetail from other deer.
This particular deer is also unique in terms of body language. Whitetails are known to showcase various postures, including the “ear drop” to send other deer away, the “hard look” to show anger, the “antler threat” to display dominance, and the fighting stance to prepare for battle, so to speak.
During the breeding season, or “rut,” bucks (males) can often be found making violent antler contact, testing each other’s strength for the right to breed receptive does. This battle normally ends when one deer is too tired to continue but can also end in the death of one or both bucks.
Sometimes when fighting, bucks can get their antlers entangled with each other, unable to break apart. In these instances, bucks can even die if they cannot get separated.
Normally found across the hills of Central California and the mountainous region of Alaska, the Columbian black-tailed deer is a sub-species of the mule deer.
The blacktail is slightly smaller than most mule deer or his white-tailed cousin, though. Like white-tailed deer, blacktail also change their coat colors, from a reddish-brown in summer to a brownish-gray in winter.
Blacktail are normally easy to spot by their ears, which move independently. This particular deer’s broad tail is totally black or dark brown at the top, with a white patch underneath. This would make him easy to confuse with the white-tail, were it not for his distinctive dark brown antlers with symmetrical branching and easily-identifiable stocky bodies with long, slender legs.
Black-tailed deer weigh in at about 130 pounds, but can reach closer to 200. While blacktail males have antlers, their female counterparts do not – and male fawns start growing antlers at about 6-8 months old.
Blacktail can normally be found in forested mountains on the pacific coast, where the climate is mild and cool with plenty of rainfall. Blacktail live off a diet of acorns, fungi, lichen, nuts, berries, and shrubs
This specific kind of white-tailed deer is among the most commonly found across the South-Eastern mountains of Arizona, especially during the rainy summertime.
Coues can be found in woodlands where there is plenty of oak, chaparral, and pine.
Coues deer are known for their distinctive antlers. The coues’ mean beam curves forward, and more mature coues have 3-4 tines on each side.
When it comes to coat, the coues is normally grayish-brown with specks of “salt and pepper,” and white patches underneath. The coues’ most distinguishing trait is his long and broad tail, which is grayish-red-black on top and white underneath.
Coues deer are normally quite small, and fawns are known to stay close to their mothers for longer than other deer.
4. Mule Deer
Mule deer are commonly spotted in deserts across North and South America, flaunting large ears that first granted them their name.
The mule deer’s tail appears to have been dipped in black ink, and his antlers are forked.
You’ll also find a distinctive white patch on either hind side, which easily differentiates the mule deer from any other deer in America. The mule deer sports a grayish-brown coat, making it easier for him to adapt to his unique climate in desert areas.
Mule deer, often referred to as muleys, normally range from about 3 feet tall at the shoulders to a towering 7 feet (including antlers), weighing up to 280 pounds.
In addition to the whitetail, the mule deer is also one of the types of deer sought after by hunters.
5. Red Deer
These large land mammals (Britain’s largest, in fact) can weigh anywhere from 90 kg to 190 kg (around 100 to 225 lbs). They stand up to 1.37 meters (4-1/2 ft) tall at the shoulder, and can normally be found in wooded lowland areas.
But, the part of this deer’s anatomy that sets it apart from other deer so distinctly, is its noticeably large head and wide-spaced brown eyes.
A male red deer is called a stag. His antlers are perhaps his most distinctive feature – highly branched with multiple points on each.
The red deer’s antler branches increase with age at an angle. Another unmistakable trait of the red deer are its hoof prints, otherwise known as “slots.” These are often mistaken for sheep or goat’s marks.
Red deer are mostly found in forest habitats across England and Southern Scotland, and graze on grass and dwarf shrubs. They generally breed from the end of September to November.
6. Chital / Axis Deer
The Chital Deer, otherwise known as the axis deer, boasts unique characteristics that set it apart – one of which is the white spots that never go away. These speckled dots stay in place from youth through to adulthood, normally covering the entire body and spanning down the legs too. These spots make the axis deer one of the most easily recognized types of deer.
The Chital Deer also has a rather long muzzle topped off with a dark black nose. The axis deer normally weighs anywhere from 60 pounds to 170 pounds, depending on the region and habitat.
An interesting feature of male axis deer are their antlers, which normally have six points. However, more dominant bucks are found with more than this, making them significant trophies.
The axis deer were introduced in the United States in the 1930’s. The state of Texas has the highest population of axis deer in the U.S.
The axis deer is normally found living in secondary land areas, around glades where there is plenty to eat. The axis deer’s hoof shape prevents them from walking well on rugged terrain. So, they tend to avoid these types of areas.
The axis deer tend to be more social than other types of deer.
This member of the deer family is found primarily in the Western United States and Southern Canada.
The elk’s history is complex, with most being killed by Western U.S. settlers by the early 1900’s. The sole survivors were found mostly in the region just west of the Rocky Mountains.
Thankfully, reintroduction efforts were successful, and the elk can be found in many areas today – towering tall at 4-5 feet high at the shoulder. Some even reach up to 9 feet or higher, counting antler height. You can spot an Elk from a distance, with a copper brown coat. This can change to light tan during the Fall and Winter months.
Elk are also easily noticeable by their rump patch, and short light-brown tail. Elk can be found feeding on all types of plants, mostly grass. Although, elk also enjoy twigs, forbs, fir, juniper, aspen, and chokeberry. They also love shrubs, particularly during the cold winter months. Elk predators include cougars, wolves, coyotes, and bears, which often kill calves and sick adults.
This Christmas “legend” is actually a real deer. The male reindeer is unique among the rest, easily identifiable mainly by its antlers.
Other distinctive characteristics include his broad hooves, wide muzzle, and extra-thick brown fur.
These majestic creatures are a medium-sized member of the deer family, found across forests, mountains, and arctic tundra in Canada, Alaska, Scandinavia, and Northern China. Reindeer normally travel in massive herds and live in the wild for about a decade.
More domesticated reindeer are herded by Asian Artic and European peoples.
Reindeer are herbivores, and spend most of the day grazing. During the cold winter months, Reindeer can be found grazing on moss and lichens, leaves and herbs.
9. Vampire Deer (Musk Deer)
Otherwise known as musk deer, these “vampires” are actually quite shy and prone to voluntary solitary confinement.
These gentle, nocturnal creatures differ from other cervids, due to their lack of antlers and facial glands. They earned their name through their distinctive sharp vampire-like “fangs.” The over-sized canine teeth are impossible to miss.
While their name and long fangs might scare you off, this unique Asian deer is actually harmless. You’ll normally find him in mountainous regions, like the Himalayas or Siberia.
Take note of his over-sized ears, exceptionally short tail, and lack of antlers. Traits like these make the vampire deer one of the easiest kinds to spot. His coat is grayish-brown, and his hair long and brittle.