defleshing a skull

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defleshing a skull

Postby openwaterhunter2 » Fri Jan 13, 2006 10:55 am

What are some of the methods to deflesh a skull. Is it just a pick and cut until one gets it clean or is there other methods that are quicker and easier?

Thanks Danny
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Postby Pete-pec » Fri Jan 13, 2006 4:12 pm

Danny,
Are you using the original head -VS- an artificial? I want to stress that the cost of an artificial head outweighs the time, energy, and frankly the look of the original. Don't get me wrong, I will on occasion use the original head. For example, on a Shoveler, because the combs on the shoveler are just too hard to duplicate. You still can use the same inscision on the head if you are going to use the original. Yo will have to rebuild the head with two-part apoxie sculpt. The head or skull needs to fleshed out completely to prevent bugs later. the skull needs to be trimmed of the lower 1/3rd of the bone to enlarge the brain cavity for easy removal. keep the bones on each side of the jaw muscle to have something to attach the apoxie to, and scrape the remaining flesh and muscle away. Take notes on the muscular structure of the original skull, and shape to desired look. dry overnight, and allow the bill to shrink to rebuild that in a couple of weeks. I will say that it really isn't worth the hassle, and that an artificial head is the way to go though. It can be done that way though. I personally have about twenty birds on the wall that look fine. Use plenty of Borax to coat the skull before rebuilding. Any questions, feel free to post.

-Pete
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Postby openwaterhunter2 » Fri Jan 13, 2006 4:50 pm

Pete

The reason I am trying the skull mount is first for the experience and second it was a not so great duck and I wanted to try it anyways and see if it turned out for maybe a decoy. This duck is really my experimental duck. I tried the head cut to see if I could do it and how my stitching looked after I took a lesson from my aunt the RN. I also wanted to try my mecanical flesher I made from a fine wire wheel, cordless drill and splatter box. Well the cut looked good on the head. The body cut looked good with no holes other than the BBs. I was happy with that. The wings, legs and tail turned out great without any holes. I started with the flesher and as soon as I stuck it to it I tore a small hole. No problem I just took my time and got it real good. I cleaned the skull good and then went to wash it and thats when things went to hell in a hand basket. The dang skin started to tare around the edges :pissed: where I had fleshed it. I am pissed to say the least. There wasn't any holes around from the fleshing before the wash. I didn't think I got that deep in the skin but obiviously I did. :hammering: I am hoping I can salvage it inorder to try the skull but I don't know if I can.

A question I have is do I cut the skull free from the skin? I can't figure how I will let the skull dry without the hide drying as well. Please help me on that one.

Thanks
danny
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Postby Pete-pec » Fri Jan 13, 2006 8:12 pm

Danny,

No you don't have to remove the skull completely. You can make a relief cut either on the side that will be closest to the wall, or you can make a top relief cut at the crest of the bird, or you can make a relief cut at the chin of the duck. When you make your relief cut, you skin towards the bill and only up to the bill, and skin backwards towards the ear hole. Then you cut the neck off at the base of the skull, and invert the skull out of this relief cut. I would recommend starting at the earhole for the start of your relief cut, and cut about a 1 to 2 inch cut towards the rear of the duck, and that should be enough to invert the skull out that hole. The skin stays attached at the bill, and you sew or glue up the hole during the mounting process. The skull will be rebuilt with critter clay or epoxie. I usually put my eyes in last. The skull doesn't need to dry completely if you are going to use the original skull and leave it attached to the skin at the bill. Hope this helps. What kind of duck were you working on when it decided to fall apart during your washing process? I agree with you that you probably didn't flesh too deeply, sounds more like the skin maybe got a little too warm during your fleshing process, and started to decay or break down a bit during that step. How long was the skin at room temperature? Did you ever store it in the fridge? With a bird skin being so fatty and thin, it doesn't take a real long time before it has been exposed to the point that decay may set in. The best part is that you didn't lose a customers bird, and it was one of your own (not so good) birds to begin with. This is all part of the learning process, and your bound to run into more technical difficulty along the way! feel free to ask away.

-Pete
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Postby casey_714 » Fri Jan 13, 2006 11:43 pm

Wow....... there is a lot more to mounting ducks than i thought. All of that work for 1 bird, for like $150 or so...
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Postby openwaterhunter2 » Sat Jan 14, 2006 7:41 am

Pete

I made the cut in the head like you talked about and inverted it easly. I snipped a hole in the back of the skull to get the brain out and then just picked until I got alot of the meat off. There is still alittle meat on it but I am not done with it yet. I killed it thursday. Skinned it within 4 hours of being killed and put it in the fridge because I didn't want it to set up hard in the freezer and take a long time to thaw. Then I worked the wings, legs, and tail clean. I stuck it back in the fridge for about 2 hours and done some stuff for the wife and then fleshed it. It is a mallard drake. I thought about maybe just glueing the torn section back up with card board or something. Will that work? Thanks

Danny
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Postby Pete-pec » Sat Jan 14, 2006 10:22 am

Danny,
The torn section can be glued with a piece of used fabric softener sheet and a very small amount of superglue. I quit sewing those little tears that you're talking about when I figured out how to use the artificial head. I realized that you can use glue here, why not on the body. With a little help fron Tony Finazzo on his method, voila`, there you have it. The only part I sew now is the belly cut. I use either waxed dental floss or 2 pound mono fishing line. I asked if you had put the skin in the fridge because that is a good place to have the skin start to slip (rot). I suggest putting it in the freezer next time, and allow just a bit more thaw time. You can also thaw out the skin in cool water before you do your fleshing. I've done it both ways, and some people actually prefer to flesh the skin wet. I will have a little mist spray bottle handy when fleshing to keep the skin moist. You will notice that water and fat have totally opposite specific gravities, and will repel one-another, which will allow you to distinguish the difference between fat and water. It is surprising how much heat the fat of a bird will hold in, and it sounds as if you either took a little too long to flesh, or you left it in the fridge a little too long. I don't think it's a total loss however, and should turn out just fine. You can really see the difference between a diver duck, and a puddler. Sea ducks are even tougher skinned, and so are turkeys and pheasants. For me the worst birds to work on are a real fatty Mallard or goose, or a Teal or Woodie, and the best bird to work on are sea ducks such as an Old Squaw or Harlequin, or for the divers, a Goldeneye, Bufflehead, or Merganser. Unfortunately with the collection that I have, I've done them all. I used to work on a flesher that had a thicker gauged wire on it's wheel, and recently upgraded to the "bomb" of a flesher, that makes that part of the job much easier. Dan Rinehart taxidermy school and supply sells it. His phone number to get a supply catalog is: 608-884-3047. Good luck!

-Pete
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Postby openwaterhunter2 » Sun Jan 15, 2006 9:08 am

Pete can I use automotive bondo to build the muscle and bone structure of the skull? I have a big can of it that needs to be used and was just wondering. Thanks Danny
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Postby Pete-pec » Sun Jan 15, 2006 10:13 am

Danny,
I've never used bondo, but you should be able to. I think it would be difficult to work the musclular structure in before the bondo got hardened. I would order some non-shrinking critter clay. It works much easier, and stays plyable much longer. I prefer apoxie sculpt when rebuilding the real head. That's why I told you you could use the same inscision to remove the head as if you were going to use an artificial head, but rebuild it with apoxie instead. You would be able to glue your skin to the apoxie once dry. There are some birds that you can invert the head through the neck without any relief cuts at all. Mergansers, sea ducks, and Ruddy Ducks are some examples of birds that can be inverted all the way to the bill. I've inverted these birds then cut and removed all the flesh, rebuilt with clay, and inverted it back to push my (sharpened) necking wire up and through the top of the skull, add the eyes, allow it to harden, and cut off the wire as close to the top of the skull as possible.

-Pete
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