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Thread: Prepped the skull from my first recovered Coyote

  1. #1
    I am a Forum User
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    Prepped the skull from my first recovered Coyote

    I have been after the coyotes on this sheep farm since October last year, virtually every Sat and Sun morning going out well before dawn and sitting quiet in my hide to ambush them as it gets light when they make moves on the sheep. I guess the activity from hunting season must have scared them, because I went from October to Dec before I even saw a single coyote. When they did show up, it was at 250 yards and I only wounded one which ran off never to be seen again (on neighboring property). I missed the second @ 350 yards.

    That was about the sum total of sightings until a couple of weekends ago when we had the dense fog on Sat morning. Thats when I had a coyote show up in the middle of a group of turkeys I was observing at 80 yards... Meanwhile I have gone to a different rifle for the long range stuff, a Savage 10 1:9 twist, shooting 75gr match ammo. The ballistics of the 75gr ammo are quite different, particularly when zeroed for 250 yards, where I usually see/expect them. So when this coyote showed up at 80 yards, I held on the shoulder and missed... it gave me another shot at about 110yards and I missed again... Back home I consulted the ballistic calculator and it showed that with a 250 yard zero I was about 3" high at 80 and 100 yards. So I guess it was a lucky coyote... 3" from center of mass is close enough to give you a nick...

    Next day I was back in the same place and the planets were aligned because a different coyote showed up in the same place and this time there was no fog. Based on my education, I held low and I saw the dog go down in the scope. I did not know what to expect from the 75gr match bullet, but it just destroyed the coyote. Exit wound was over 1" in diameter, huge wound cavity and it never took a step. So i guess not fur friendly, but to be fair I chose the bullet for knock down power at 250-400 yards, where it has more than double the energy of a 55gr Vmax.

    I skinned it out and the fur is still salted, but I did something I had not done before, which is prep the skull for display.

    So here it is, hope you like it..


  2. #2
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    Beautiful job. Are you going to build a display plaque, case, base, for it?

  3. #3
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    I have been thinking of ways to make a mount for it that can be screwed to the wall of the barn where the sheep live at night...

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by westcliffe01
    So here it is, hope you like it..
    Love it actually, nice work.

  5. #5
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    very cool!

  6. #6
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    What is your process for prepping the skull?

  7. #7
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    That does look great!

    What I would do (next time) is have it done by a taxidermist half-and-half, that is, half 'embalmed' and half skull!!!

  8. #8
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    Basically, 1x stainless turkey fryer (not the biggest one), 1x outside propane single burner stove, a little hydrogen peroxide some concentrate laundry detergent and a little bleach.

    Remove the basket from the turkey fryer (its just more to clean up later) put a couple of gallons of water into the fryer along with the head. You need to cover the head by at least 2-3 inches, since one will lose water once it starts boiling. I recommend putting the lid on the fryer, since it reduces evaporative losses and also releases less odor (the smell seemed to drive the neighborhood dogs crazy even though I hardly noticed it).

    Once the water boils, reduce the heat to just a slow roll and boil the head for at least 2 hours. After that time, take a piece of wire (coat hanger wire or smaller) and insert it through the vertebra into the brain and break up that big mass. Be careful not to punch through the skull since it is not that thick and will be softened by the boiling. By this time, get a trash bag and start pulling off the skin and meat to get rid of the bulk of it ASAP. Then back in the pot and boil it for another 1/2 hour in fresh water.

    This time add some laundry detergent to help break down the fat and wash it off the bones as much as possible. It helps to wash the fryer to get it as clean as possible between steps so that the detergent can work on what you want to keep and not residue in the pot. Don't get it too hot or there will be foam everywhere... After this step, get a used toothbrush and scrub down all the bone to get rid of all of the residue. Be careful around the teeth, because they can easily fall out and it can be difficult getting them back. For the same reason, when brushing, work over a smooth surface where you are less likely to lose anything that does fall out. Take the wire or a small screwdriver and remove the cartilage from the nasal cavity (it looks cellular). Get the wire back down the vertebrae and get all the brain matter out. It helps to fill the cavity with hot water, shake it and then pour it out. But the brain matter tends to stick together so you have to break it up to get it out the small hole.

    Once clean and with the organic material removed, clean out the pot again to get it squeaky clean and make up new water and put a couple of tablespoons of bleach into it. Heat the bleach to make it work faster and soak the parts in it, then scrub them again with the toothbrush. This process should get everything sanitary and kill anything that has survived the hot water and soap. Rinse everything with hot water. Now pour some hydrogen peroxide into a bowl and scrub the whole thing with it all over and without rinsing it, set it out in the sun, somewhere where the wind won't get to it. Periodically come back, paint on more peroxide and set it back out. My example only took a day to get rid of the worst coloration from boiling. The whiter you want it, the longer it takes.

    Epoxy or superglue the lower jaw together, setting it onto the upper part of the skull to aid correct alignment. That is important to getting it to fit together properly later. This modern superglue seems to be much slower to set than the early stuff, so you may have to hold the parts in position for a while.. Then allow it to fully harden overnight before handling it. Finally, position the lower jaw in a suitable position relative to the upper part of the skull and use an aid to hold the alignment (i used the cup that comes on a medicine bottle and placed it over the upper canines and then rested the lower canines on it. This did a couple of things: It maintained the lateral alignment of the front teeth, and it provided some rearward pressure on the hinges of the lower jaw to hold those points in contact while I applied the glue. It also is easy to remove the cup afterwards when the glue has set up. During this process the skull was upside down and I placed it in a small tight fitting cardboard box to keep it from moving since it tends to be unstable when upside down.

    Quote Originally Posted by GPintheMitten
    What is your process for prepping the skull?

  9. #9
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    Thats sweet!

  10. #10
    MGO Member vintagemc313's Avatar
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    looks cool. I still wanna try for my first coyote.

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