The Skull As A Trophy
Shipping the Skulls
To prepare the skulls for shipping they should be placed inside two or three large Ziplock bags and sealed shut. Place the skulls in a box with enough room for packing material. Then pack the skulls tightly in wrinkled up newspaper to help insulate and protect the skulls from damage while being shipped. It is nearly impossible to be too careful. The more padding the better! Note that if any liquid (blood) leaks out of your package, you will get an unfriendly phone call from the post office. To be on the safe side, once it is all packaged up and ready to ship, I advise going immediately to the post office to ship it. ALWAYS SHIP ON A MONDAY!!! This is very important. If the package is shipped on a Monday it greatly reduces the risk of the package sitting around in the post office over a weekend. Trust me it will get very ripe smelling if it sits in a warm building for more than a couple days. Again, you will not be popular with the post office. Also try to avoid weeks with holidays occurring during the week for the same reason. It is best to ship all frozen skulls Overnight or Next Day. It costs a little more, but is necessary and worth it.
Once the Skull Arrives
Once your skulls arrive at the beetle cleaning business they will be taken out of the package, tagged, and inspected for any damage that may have occurred during shipping. After this is all taken care of, the skulls will be placed in the beetle enclosure, where the beetles will make short work of cleaning the skulls. Small skulls such as coyotes only take two to three days to clean. Larger skulls like bear may take up to five or six days, and a large buffalo make take a week or two.
Once the beetles have the skulls completely clean of any and all flesh, the skulls are ready to be whitened. First, all the beetles are removed or killed before going into the whitener. Bleach is not used in the whitening process, although it often referred to as bleaching. Using actual bleach would destroy the skull and cause it to deteriorate. In the photo below, the skulls are completely cleaned and ready to go through the whitening process. Note how there are dark splotches here and there on the skull. Most of this is blood that has stained the skull. The majority of this will come out during the whitening process. There is also grease and oily residue on the skull. Some of this will come out during the whitening, but most of the oil and grease will need to be removed through a separate process after whitening. The degreasing is the most time consuming part of the entire cleaning process. Depending on how greasy the skull is, it could take anywhere from 3 weeks to several months to remove the grease.
The Finished Product
Here are the same skulls after they have been through the chemical whitening process, set in the sun, and then lastly, degreased.
The skulls can now be prepared to ship back to the customer either closed or permanently fixed open mouth. The rest is up to the customer how they want to use their imagination to display these very unique and economical trophies.
In short, preparing skulls to be beetle cleaned is very simple. Skin it, clean off excess meat, tongue and eyes. Freeze it solid and then package it in several Ziplock bags. Pack well in newspaper and ship it overnight. If you donít mind paying extra, you can just skin it, freeze it, pack and send. Either approach is easy and results in a nice trophy upon its return.
For those interested in having skulls cleaned please feel free to contact me or ask questions in the comment area provided with this article.
An avid big game hunter, Troy Adams has been hunting big game for nearly 30 years. Combining hunting and photography has helped him preserve many great memories. When not hunting, photographing, writing, or spending time with his family, Troy is usually found working on his wildlife art drawings.
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