You've seen these mounting kits before, right?
If you are serious hunter, or like me and hunt from time to time, you probably have a few sets of deer racks laying around your garage. For me, I have one deer mounted, a 14-point buck I shot several years ago.
However, I have six other skull caps from other bucks over the years. Until recently, I never really had a desire to do anything with them. Well, until my wife decide that a European mount would look cool, that is.
Immediately, I started looking at ideas people did with other deer skulls. That's when I stumbled on Mountain Mike's and his European mounting kits.
I've seen these mounting kits before. Actually, I think it was when Gander Mountain was going out of business, they were all marked down and I almost bought one.
I always wanted to do something with the skull mounts that I had, just never really turned the corner on them and tried it. Without telling my wife, I decided I was going to get one of those mounting kits, cut the antlers off one of my actual skull caps, and do the dang thing and see what she thought.
In hindsight, I probably should've just ordered a few antler mounting kits online. Lots of places offer free shipping, but I went to Cabela's and fought the crowd anyways.
Coming in at $40, it could have been less expensive, but beggar's can't be choosers. I've never tried a mount kit before. I never did anything with DIY taxidermy either. However, cutting the antlers off a real deer skull and screwing them into a plastic deer skull didn't seem that hard. Well, here's what how it went down for me.
The antler cutting
Right out of the package, the directions to the mounting kit warn about cutting the antlers at the right angles to make sure everything fits. I used a hand saw and went to town. I figured I could sand everything down and make it work in the end anyways.
Several times as I was cutting, I told myself that just doing the real European mount to begin with was probably the better way to go. I was in with both feet at that point, though. There was no turning back.
It's important to cut the antlers just below the burr. It needs to be very flat, too. Deer antler is fairly easy to cut if you have a good blade so it shouldn't take a whole lot of time. For me, it was about 10 minutes.
Lining Them Up
These antler-mounting kits come with everything you need to make your own Euro mount work pretty easily. Once both antlers are cleaned up a little, use a small drill bit and bore into the bottom of the antler at the angle you want them to display on the plastic deer skull.
It may help to actually hold it in place to see it before you drill. Mountain Mike's allows for a little bit of wiggle room for the placement of the deer antlers so it doesn't have to be exactly precise, thankfully.
Once the holes are drilled, use the provided screws from the skull mounting kit and just tighten them down. This part was pretty easy also. Once they are attached to the plastic European skull, they can be rotated a little to your desired look. This would work with mule deer just as easy as white tail deer, too.
There is a second skull attachment for smaller sizes deer antler mounting, which again, speaks to the flexibility.
The display of my new homemade European mount is where I struggled a little. I didn't have an antler mounting plaque. Those are available to purchase as well, but I just stuck with what came with the skull master kit.
The mounting bracket was all that I had. As I quickly found, if the mounting bracket isn't screwed into a stud, it will pull right out of the wall due to science. Just try it yourself and see.
Once I found a stud, though, I was in business. I had it propped up and everything was great. Then I showed my wife.
Immediately, my wife asked to paint it bright white. She felt the plastic look of the European deer skull made it look too fake, and I have to agree with her here. I never really intended for this project to be nothing but a garage display anyways, but she reaffirmed my feelings.
If a European skull mount is in your future, I'd recommend spending the money and getting the real thing. This Mountain Mike's deer mounting kit is cool and functional. Unfortunately, they are just overly too fake looking to pull off with sincerity.
Would I buy another one? Yes. I plan to use a Mountain Mike's mounting kit for each of my remaining deer skulls, and even a few shed antlers.
One of these plastic skull mounts would be hard pressed to be displayed anywhere other than my garage wall or the kid's bedroom though. A real skull is a real skull and you can blatantly tell the difference.