358 WSSM, Hmm...

I just happened to stumble onto the Indiana change from a couple years back to the firearms season. The change allows legal calibers of 35 and larger. The case maximum length can not be longer than 1.625 inches and not under 1.16 inches. This basically includes the 357 Mag. up to a 500 S&W however a WSSM case necked up to 358 can fit the requirements.

Custom guys are sizing up the 25 WSSM case to .358 with a small trim in the neck length for just this very purpose. Remington does have basically a 30 WSSM they call the "30 Remington AR." There is also the 30 OSSM from Olympic Arms. It might only be a matter of time before someone manufactures a 35.

Try a search for "358 WSSM Indiana" and you'll find a lot of buzz about it on the web.

DIY European Skull Mounts

Here are a few of the European skull mounts that I have done. It just take a little time and work and you can make European Skull Mounts of your own trophies.  To learn more about how I do the mounts you can read this DIY European Skull Mounting Process article.

European Skull Mount 5 Point Elk
This is a bull I took in 2004 with my Adrenaline SX bow. You can read about this hunt in 2004 Archery Elk 5 Point Bull journal entry.
 
European Skull Mount Mule Deer
My non-typical monster buck (left) that my daughter created for my office and a buck I took in 2004 with a 270 WSM Winchester Model 70 (right). You can read about this mule deer hunt in my 2004 Mule Deer Hunt journal entry.
 
European Skull Mount 5 Point Elk
This is a bull I took in 2007 with a modified Browning Adrenaline SX bow. You can read about this hunt in 2007 Archery Elk 5 Point Bull journal entry.
 
 European Skull Mount 8 Point Whitetail Deer
This is a Whitetail Deer I took in 1995. It was my first experiment with European Skull Mounts. I boiled this skull to remove the flesh. The mount turned out pretty good although I found another process to remove the flesh that I like better. You can learn about this process in my DIY European Skull Mounting Process article.
 

My 243 WSSM Rifles

Here are my 243 WSSM rifles, two stainless laminate varieties of Browning A-Bolt rifles and a Winchester Model 1885.

As you can see I really like Quake Claw rifle slings. A leather sling would look nicer on my Model 1885 but function wise, Browning Clincher or Quake Claw rifle slings are the best at keeping my rifle in place on my shoulder and I use them on almost every rifle I have.

 243 WSSM A-Bolt Stainless Laminate Hunter

243 WSSM, Browning A-Bolt Stainless Hunter Laminate with 22" barrel
 Bushnell Elite 3200 3-10x SA Scope

This rifle in my favorite for coyotes and deer when serious hiking is involved. It has a beautiful brown laminate stock and a short 22 inch barrel. It's a great small, light mountain rifle with pretty good range. Dallen my oldest son has taken a liking to it and used it to make one shot kills on his first mule deer buck, whitetail deer buck, bull elk and cow elk.

 

 
 243 WSSM A-Bolt Stainless Laminate Varmint

243 WSSM, Browning A-Bolt Stainless Varmint Laminate with 24" fluted barrel
 
Bushnell Elite 4200 4-16x Side Adjustable Objective Scope (How the rifle was Pre-2014)

This is my all-around rifle. I use it for just about anything. It has a beautiful gray laminate stock and a longer, thicker, 24 inch barrel. I also had the barrel deep fluted to shave some extra weight off this rifle and it looks really cool.

A-Bolt 243 WSSM Varmint Laminate with Adjustable Comb, 20 MOA EGW Rail and Vortex Viper PST Scope
In 2013-14 I did a few upgrades to my Varmint Laminate. It now has an adjustable comb, a 20 MOA EGW Rail with low Four Hole Skeleton Weaver rings and a Vortex Viper PST 6-24x50 MOA second focal plane scope. Because the 20 MOA picatinny rail places the scope higher I needed the comb raised to get proper eye, cheek alignment. I had Karl McKnight make the fully adjustable comb and add the extra length to the stock I need with a new recoil pad/spacer. Karl did a fine job! I like the look and especially the functionality.
A-Bolt 243 WSSM Varmint Laminate with Adjustable Comb A-Bolt 243 WSSM Varmint Laminate with Adjustable Comb
For ease in getting this stock to the gunsmith that is out of town, I just sent the stock. When I got the stock back the adjustable comb prevented the bolt from traveling enough to cycle the action. I should have been clear that I needed the action to cycle and make the cut short enough so that it would. Anyhow, a little trimming with a band saw, some sanding, some polyurethane and it works and looks great. The photos above show before and after I modified the comb to allow for the action to fully cycle.
 
 243 WSSM Winchester Model 1885

243 WSSM, Winchester Model 1885 with 28" barrel
 
Bushnell Elite 4200 6-24x AO Mil-Dot Scope

I love Model 1885 rifles. They were John M. Browning's first firearm designed in 1878 that went into production as the Winchester Model 1885 and is still in production to this date. 

This rifle is my favorite for prairie dogs and rock chucks. It's a heavy rifle but it shoots bullets really and I mean really fast, thanks to the long 28 inch barrel. The Winchester 55g Ballistic Tip factory loads are clocking in at 4240 fps out of this rifle.

It may be a single shot but with a cartridge holder on the side of the stock I can still get off a follow-up shot pretty darn fast as you can see in my 243 WSSM Model 1885 Coyote Double article.

 

 
243 WSSM Rifles, Two Browning A-Bolts and a Winchester Model 1885
 This photo shows all three of my 243 WSSM rifles together to give a better size comparison.

 

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

Bleaching.
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.

The Meat Saucer — Sled System for Hauling Deer & Elk in Snow

Dallen pulling a Meat Saucer Sled filled with boned out cow elk meat.

Meat Saucer Sleds filled with bone out cow elk ready to be hauled off the mountain.

My son Dallen in 2010 pulling a Meat Saucer Sled filled with his boned out cow elk meat. Meat Saucer Sleds filled with Dallen's 2010 boned out cow elk ready to be hauled off the mountain.

I have two meat hauling systems that work well. One for when there is snow and one for when there isn't. In this article I'll be writing about my meat saucer sled system for use when there is snow and  I will write about my lightweight deer and elk meat cart system in another article.

Our family prefers elk meat to beef and I have been fortunate to often draw late cow tags. My brother and friends have also drawn tags throughout the years so I have also been involved in helping them get their cow elk off the mountain. All in all I average assisting in hauling three cow elk a year out on foot. For years we tried a variety of methods, dragging, quartering, various sled types and calling in horse support. I needed to find a DIY way to haul an elk out in one trip, without needing to ask for help.

Homemade canvas big game meat bags
This photo shows a small five point bull elk boned out and hanging in my homemade canvas big game meat bags. Boned out meat in breathable canvas meat bags helps the meat cool faster buying time, keeping it from spoiling. In 2011 I found some manufactured big game bags that although not as rugged they should work even better at keeping the meat from spoiling.

Sleds offered my best option as long as there was snow. I tried the roll-up variety one year. They where easy enough to carry around while hunting tied to my pack but they were horrible at keeping the meat bags on the sled unless I was on a nice flat trail. One year we used a long plastic toboggan style sled. Again this sled worked great as long has you were on a nice flat trail. The toboggan kept tipping over coming out the bottom of a steep canyon and when we had to go around side hills. This sled is also a pain to haul in as you have to drag it wherever you go which, also makes a lot of noise in the process. I tried saucer sleds one year and liked them for their ease in carrying strapped to the back of my pack. I also liked hauling the boned out meat in my meat bags with them. But again I had issues with going around steep side hills as the bags of meat could not be tied in well enough to keep them on the saucer.

The following year I was back with the saucers but this time I had modified the sleds so I could run chord back and forth across the top of the sled creating a web over the meat. I could also tie two sleds together forming a clam-like dish that could flip over and be pulled with either side down.  At first I thought that I would need the two sleds tied together to go around steep side hills but, with the saucers being round and with the low center of gravity they just don't flip over. They will slide around just about anything. This system has worked great.

Elk Meat Hauling Saucer Sled
A couple of Meat Saucers and two sizes of my homemade big game meat bags. I like to have at least six large bags and two or three smaller bags per elk. I use the smaller bags for the tenderloin and back straps.

I now stack a couple of these saucers on my back and away I go. With the saucer sleds, my meat bags and a few hours time to bone out the elk, I can hunt just about whenever and wherever I want with confidence that I can get an elk out without the need of friends and/or horses.

 Here are some notes on how I made and use my meat saucers while hunting.

  • Heating up a nail I melt holes around the outer rim of the sled.
  • I weave parachute chord or shoe laces around the rim of the sled.
  • I take several canvas meat bags to place the meat in.
  • After placing the bags on the sled I then weave chord back and forth across the bags creating a web to hold the bags on the sled.
  • I stack a couple of sleds together and tie them to the back of my pack while hunting.
  • A small cow or calf can easily fit on one saucer sled. I generally take two saucers per elk that I or my group could possibly be bringing off the mountain that day.
  • I take my time and bone out the elk properly getting all the meat. 
  • I make sure I have a head lamp or two with extra batteries and good technical hunting clothing so I can take my time coming out in the dark if necessary.
  • I use at least a half inch diameter rope or a one inch flat rope for the handle area that I hold to pull with.
  • I don't wrap the rope around my hands in case the meat decides to pull me down the mountain I won't get drug with it.
  • If I need to pull two sleds I create a "train" by tying saucers together.
  • I use caution and take my time in steep terrain.

Now if I could just get saucer sleds in white and hunter orange colored varieties.

Here is some video showing the sleds in action hauling Dallen's cow elk off the mountain in December of 2010.

Subcategories

  • Big Game Hunting

    Journal entries from hunting mule deer, elk and whitetail deer.  You'll find hunts with 243 WSSM and 270 WSM rifles to muzzleloader and archery hunts.

  • General Hunting and Shooting

    Journal entries covering general information related to hunting and shooting. Many of these journal entries are from shooting on the rifle or archery range. There are also entries related to my experiences with the 243 WSSM, rifles, optics and other equipment and products I use.

  • Varmint Hunting

    Journal entries from hunting coyotes, rock chucks, prairie dogs and the like with 243 WSSM and 223 Rem. rifles.

  • Backpacking and Camping

    Backpacking, Pack Wheel camping and other camping adventures.

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