Digiscope Video of Velvet Antlered Mule Deer

Digiscope Photo of Large Two Point Mule Deer Buck Digiscope Photo of Large Two Point Mule Deer Buck
 Here are a couple of still photos I snapped as the mule deer bucks were feeding early in the morning.

While camping this summer I took some digiscope video and still photos of some bucks that were out feeding in the area where we were camping.

There were six bucks in the group. Must of the bucks we yearling two points and spikes, with a three point and a pig of a two point. This large two point buck's body was much larger and had a very pronounced fat belly. He also showed signs that he might grow some crab claw forks in the front and back before he finished growing in a month or so.

I explain a little more about my digiscope setup used to take this video in my Digiscope Video of 243 WSSM Shooting a Milk Jug at 311 Yards journal entry.

DIY European Skull Mounting Process

Homemade DIY Elk European Skull MountMany years ago I decided to do a European skull mount of a whitetail deer. At the time I used the boiling method to clean the flesh off the skull. After all was said and done I really didn't like the outcome. Mainly because the very fine bones that are in the nasal cavity were all destroyed in the process of trying to pick off pieces of flesh in-between boiling sessions. Boiling also makes me worry that the skull could crack or shrink from the heating.

Since that time I have used the maceration process do to my mounts and have done so on close to twenty skulls from elk, mule deer and whitetail deer. Keeping the skull in water for a long period of time allows bacteria to break down the flesh. The process, although it takes some time, produces end results that are great.

Place the skull in water.
Here is my process. I skin the head and remove the eyes and as much flesh as you possibly can with a knife. In a shed in my back yard I have a large plastic storage tub that I fill with water. I prefer to get some pond or river water as it speeds the process of getting the bacteria going faster but, tap water will work just fine. It will just take a little longer for the bacteria brew to get going with tap water.

Homemade DIY Elk European Skull Mount Plaque Mounting Instruction screw placement

Where the four inch screws are holding this elk skull on the plaque.


Deer European Skull Mount Plaque Mounting screw hole placement
Where I drill a single hole through the skull of a deer for the screw to anchor the skull to the plaque. I drill a hole a little smaller than the outer diameter of the screw threads.

I submerge the skull in water and leave it in for a couple of weeks. It is fine if some of the antlers are partially submerged. I will remove the skull every week or so to check it's progress and spray it off with a water hose to remove as much of the flesh as possible then place it back in the bacteria brew. I use a pair of needle nose pliers and pull pieces of stubborn flesh off the skull, especially around the area the spinal column enters the back of the skull.

Heating the water.
To keep the bacteria growing the water need to remain warm. I use an fish aquarium heater to keep the water warm. Be careful to place the heater in a position so that it doesn't rest right against the skull. If it rests against the skull you may get a brown spot on the skull as I did once. Oops! Using a heater will keep the water warm and the bacteria working at a much faster pace.

Keeping the smell to a minimum.
Although not necessary I prefer to keep the smell to a minimum. If you do not aerate the water you will get a very smelly anaerobic bacteria, just like you get in your septic tank. A horribly stinky mess. If you aerate the water you will get aerobic bacteria that has less of a smell. Just like waste water treatment plants that have large aerating machines to pump oxygen into the water to keep the smell to a minimum, I use a fish aquarium air pump to pump oxygen into the water and keep the bacteria smell to a minimum. The rotting flesh is still gross but at least the smell isn't so horribly bad that it makes me dry heave when I pull the skull out to spray it off.

Teeth falling out.
Whenever you pull the skull out of the water watch for teeth that might fall out, especially watch for this when you are spraying it down with the hose. If any teeth fall out just hold on to them and after you have the skull cleaned you can super glue them back in.

40 Volume Creme Developer Peroxide Bleach for DIY European Skull Mounts
40 Volume Creme Developer Peroxide Bleach for DIY European Skull Mounts

Get a gallon bottle of peroxide creme from a beauty supply store. I say gallon because I think it only comes in gallon bottles. You will find it in 10, 20, 30, and 40 volume varieties. I like the 40 volume as it is the most potent.

After I have the skull's flesh cleaned off I will place the skull on a large piece of cardboard and using a paint brush I liberally paint the peroxide creme all over the skull being very careful not to get any on the antlers. For that matter be careful not to get the peroxide on anything but the skull and cardboard that the peroxide will drip down onto. I will then repeat brushing on coats of peroxide a couple times a day until I get the desired whiteness. Every skull has been a little different for me but usually within three to four days the skull is all pearly white. However, I have had some skulls that have taken two weeks to get some stubborn areas whitened.

Once the skull is as white as I want I then spray off the skull with a water hose and let it dry.

Mounting to Plaque
After the skull has dried, there is a really solid piece of bone on the underside of the brain cavity that I drill hole(s) into to mount the skull to the plaque. I drill two small holes for elk and one hole for deer. These hole(s) line-up with four inch grabber screws that I place through the mounting plague. Once I get the hole(s) in the plague to line-up with the skull I screw the skull in place with the long grabber screws and I'm done.

Homemade DIY Elk European Skull Mount Template Homemade DIY Mule Deer European Skull Mount Template
Elk European Skull Mount Wedge Angle Template. Click the image above to download the elk template. Mule Deer European Skull Mount Wedge Angle Template. Click the image above to download the mule deer template.

With mule deer and elk I like to place the skull at an angle to the wall. Using a piece of 2x6 lumber I cut a wedge for the skull to rest upon. To the left are some PDF files of the wedge templates (Elk and Mule Deer) I use to angle the mount away from the plaque on the wall. These templates should give you a good start on the wedge but might require a little tweaking to the angles and rounding the edges to fit your unique skull.

You can view other homemade European mounts that I have done in my DIY European Skull Mounts journal entry.

At the 2011 Western Hunting Expo I found a neat system to hang European skull mounts that I might have to try on future mounts myself.

DIY Rifle Scope Bore Sighting

Bore Sighting Model 1885, 270 WSM
Bore sighting my Model 1885, 270 WSM by looking directly down the center of the barrel and setting the rifle scope's crosshairs to match.

Here are some simple ways to bore sight your hunting rifle scope, no gadgets or lasers required.

There are two ways that I bore sight my rifles that I have found will get me within six or so inches of being sighted-in at a hundred yards.

Look Through the Barrel Bore Sighting
The first method works on any rifle that you can remove the bolt or open the action and be able to see through the barrel from the back of the rifle. Bolt action and single shot rifles will work for this method. With your target set out at 100 yards place the rifle in a shooting sand bag or something that will hold the rifle very still. Open the action on a single shot or remove the bolt on a bolt action rifle. Position the rifle so when you are a step or two behind the rifle and look straight down the middle of the barrel you can see the middle of your target at 100 yards. Once you have the barrel pointing straight at the target carefully step up to the rifle and look through the scope without moving the rifle. Now adjust the scopes reticle to lineup with the center of your target.

You may want to go back and forth from looking through the barrel to looking through the scope a few times to make sure you are on. That's it! No lasers or fancy gadget required. I have always been within six inches of being sighted-in with this method. You may also wish to take your first shots at 25 yards, adjust as needed then move out to 100 yards. I have been just fine at going straight to 100 yards and have the bullets place on paper.

Mirror Bore Sighting
My second method works for any rifle regardless of the action type. This method works great for your windage adjustment but not so great for your elevation adjustment. However, I have found most of my initial scope adjustments to get a rifle sighted-in are windage adjustments not elevation adjustments.

In this method you will need to find yourself a mirror that you can get far enough away from to where you can see your reflection clearly while looking through the scope. Now position yourself in front of the mirror and look through your rifle scope directly at the reflection of the rifle. Point the rifle so that the barrel is pointing perfectly straight at it's self in the mirror. Once you have the barrel pointing straight adjust the scope's windage adjustment to line directly up with the barrel. Your rifle scope is now bore sighted for windage.

I could go into a lengthy ramble of how you can adjust for elevation but for most it is best to leave it alone until you get to the range or use the "look through the barrel method" if you can with your rifle. Just know that you might need to adjust the vertical shot placement a little more once you get to the range.

I started using the mirror method looking for a way to adjust for the large amount of windage adjustments I have to make on my Model 1885s. At least with my Model 1885 rifles the drilled and tapped front is not aligned perfectly with the rear. Using the mirror method is a great way to quickly adjust the windage with the windage adjustable rear base before I lock the base in place. Then I can use the "look through the barrel method" to get a more precise bore sighting. I used the mirror method on my X-Bolt and it worked great as you can see in the Accuracy of My New X-Bolt Stainless Stalker, 270 WSM entry.

If you need some targets to sight-in your rifle you can download and print some from here.

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