A different type of mount for the wall
Damon got a nice buck a couple weeks ago. It was not a huge deer, but it was the first deer he shot with a bow. He was proud of it, and being the first, it was rather special.
The question then arose, what should he do with the antlers? Like most of us that have been hunting for more than a few years, he already has several conventional mounts. It did not seem worthy of the time and expense of having it mounted.
I thought the occasion and the buck were special enough, they needed to be commemorated in some way. I suggested he have him done in a European style mount. He did not know what I was talking about so I said I would have it done for him as a Christmas present. If we can think of no other good reason for doing something for someone, we call it a Christmas present. By the time Christmas rolls around, that gift given is forgotten and another present is due, but it works at the time.
There are getting to be more people all the time that do European style mounts, especially in the Midwest, since we have so many big bucks that need to be mounted and most of us are running out of walls on which to hang them.
I called my friend Doug at D&D Flesheaters to see if I could bring Damon's deer in. Having heard about Doug's beetles, and seen some of his end results, I was interested in the process that went into making the mount. He said he had room in one of his bug huts and I could bring it right over.
The European style mount has all the hair, hide, and flesh removed. The skull and the antlers are all that is mounted and the bone is generally bleached white and sealed.
The skull is skinned and placed in with a group of carnivorous beetles that removes every bit of meat and tissue. These apparently are not your ordinary bugs. They were imported from out west and are somewhat fragile. Their environment must be constantly maintained around 84 degrees. They must have moisture, plus they always need to eat.
During deer season, eating is not a problem. When I was there, he had several deer from our area, an elk from Colorado, a wild pig from Oklahoma, and a Bobcat from Missouri. During the offseason, it could get a bit scary around Doug's place. Those bugs only eat fresh meat.
Within forty-eight hours, the skull is stripped clean and a natural tan color. The bugs are shaken off and the skull is placed in a freezer for a day or two. This is to kill any bug that might be hiding in some crevasse. It would not be good to send a live carnivorous bug home with a customer.
The skull can be sealed and hung on the wall at this stage or bleached for the bright white appearance. The process sounds disgusting and I must admit the bugs in action do not have a pleasant aroma, but I think the final product was well worth it.
When we told Amanda what we were going to do with Damon's deer, she said that would be fine but we could hang it in the garage. She was not going to have a skull in her house. When we brought it back, she not only liked it, she has it hanging over her computer.
The whole process is fast, inexpensive, and gives a person an attractive lasting memory of the hunt. More information can be found at www.ddflesheaters.com if you would like to reach Doug or Google European Mount for someone locally that has a few flesh eating bugs around.
Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa.