Archive for the 'How To' Category

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Published by admin on 01 Dec 2009

The Making Of A Cedar Shaft Modern Product From Oregon’s Coast By Sam Fadala

The Making Of A Cedar Shaft
The History, Construction And Uses Of This Ancient But
Modern Product From Oregon’s Coast
By Sam Fadala

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The handmate arrow for the compound bow has been the aluminum shaft, and with good reason.  Aluminum is a fine arrow material, and the company responsible for turning out the bulk of these arrow shafts has been responsible, honest, and innovative.  While the aluminum arrow maintains the kingpin, there are, however, some alternative types that have been seeing more play lately.  Most of these are space-age inventions, such as the graphite, or improvements on old designs, such as the stainless steel arrow.  Another, however, is an ancient arrow material – cedar.  These wooden arrows were around from the start in America, as the Northwestern Indians, Coquille and others found cedar to be superb as a shaft material.  It was then.  It still is today, and for many reasons.

Contrary to popular notion, it still is a highly useful arrow material, not only in the longbow, for which it is aptly applied, but also in the compound.  The tree that yields these arrow shafts is found only along the coastal areas of Oregon, near Port Orford country, and the arrow has long been known as the Port Orford cedar type.  Speculation holds that the first cedar trees to grow in this area were begun as seedlings thousands of years ago, carried to Oregon on the Japanese current.  Japan is the only place that has an abundance of these trees and that country uses the wood for building as well as countless other applications.  America uses its cedar primarily for arrow shafts and by-products of the arrow industry because the wood is so well suited for this, while not being particularly excellent for construction.

 One of the main attributes of the cedar arrow is cost.  Shafts can be purchased in quantity and fine, straight arrows are then handmade by the archer at a fraction of the cost that finished products bring commercially.  This pastime is great fun, as well as money-saving.  As long as there are tree squirrels and rabbits to be hunted, where arrow loss and breakage is high, the inexpensive cedar is going to stay around.  On varmints, especially those which inhabit rocky terrain, such as rockchucks and ground squirrels, the cedar is again a wise choice.

 But if an arrow won’t shoot right in a bow it is of no value no matter the savings.  Fortunately, this is not the case with cedars.  They do shoot.  Today, there has been some misinformation of their construction and use, and many compound bow shooters, in an attempt to save on arrow costs, have tried cedar only to discard it as unfit for their type of bow.  No.  This does not work.  It hardly works with aluminum when a broadhead is going to be used, let alone cedar.  The cedar shaft should be selected right at the draw weight of the bow.  If a compound is sixty pounds at twenty-eight inches, a sixty-pound arrow should be selected.  If any doubt as to proper spine exists, then a cedar shaft over the draw wight of the bow should be chosen, not under.  It will still be a very fast arrow.  Because of the straight-up stance of the archer shooting a modern compound, draw length has increased over the past decade, and with longer arrows in use, it is even more important that the cedar be picked for good stiffness of spine.  It won’t shoot well if it is too light for the compound bow.

 Performance will be more than adequate.  Out of a PSE Citation, sixty pounds at a twenty-eight-inch draw, a sixty-five-pound spined cedar shot at 213 feet per second on the chronograph.  An aluminum 1816 beat it by only one fps, or 214.  A Browning Nomad set at sixty pounds, twenty-nine inches, fired its cedar sixty spine arrows at 205, almost exactly what it got with aluminum.  Out of a Cupid seventy-pound bow, thirty-one-inch draw, the seventy to seventy-five spine cedar reached 213, whipped only by a graphite shaft at 229.  The big Jennings Arrowstar, seventy-pound, thirty-one inches, shot a seventy to seventy-five cedar at 243 feet per second.  And the Schultz-made longbow surpassed 200 fps with cedars.

 While cedar is not a replacement for the great aluminum shaft, it sure is a nice alternative, especially when a lot of field shooting is to be done.  With a good jig, such as the Bitzenburger, absolutely excellent cedar arrows can be turned out swiftly.  It’s easy.  A shaft is cut to length first.  A model-making saw such as the X-acto is perfect for this.  A tool that resembles a pencil sharpener forms the nock end of the arrow.  The nock is glued in place and then fletching, usually feather, but vanes will work well, too, is installed with the jig.  On the business end of the arrow, it can be reduced in size with a tenon cutter and a switch-a-point may be added, or a cheap empty .38 Special cartridge case for plinking and small-game hunting.  Naturally, for the longbow the arrow will probably be a fist-line choice, so a broadhead may be fitted on a taper, or the Bear switch-a-point may be installed so the same arrows can be used on the range and in the field.  (More information on cedar shaft construction can be found in “How to Make an Inexpensive Small-Game Arrow,” BOW& ARROW’S Bowhunter’s Annual No.2.)  The Coquille Indians didn’t have it so easy.  They had to split the cedar stick with wedges first, then whittle it down with a shell knife and smooth it with sandstone, fitting stone or bone heads by hand.  Their arrows were made the length of the shooter’s arm, and as big around as his little finger.

We’re luckier.  Our cedar shafts come to us out of the box, normally in 11/32 size, but more and more in 23/64 for the really heavy bows.  The white cedar we purchase is light in weight, strong and long lasting.  A plant that produces thousands upon thousands of such shafts for the archer is the Rose City Archery Company of Powers, Oregon.  The company began in Portland in 1939, and since Portland is known as the City of Roses, the firm called itself the Rose City Archery Company.  In 1946, however, the factory moved to be closer to its wood source. 

 The Rose City company has received awards for environmental concern due to the nature of their business.  First, unlike the Japanese, who cut green cedar, the Oregon arrow shaft makers never cut a living tree.  Only deadfall and fire-kill wood is used.  This allows the continuance of the living tree, which is good for the company as well as the general public.  In an attempt to conserve energy, a successful measure has been taken by Rose City.  They use all of their sawdust to both heat their plant during the winter months and dry the cedar as well, while supplying about a third of the world’s arrow shafts.

 The operation is efficient.  Run by three men, Ben Crabill, Noble Adamek, and Jim Adamek, the y produce from three to five million shafts per year.  One person can grade up to 40,000 shafts in a single day at peak speed.  They use only the superior wood for arrows, too.  And since this practice would cause a terrific waste of cedar, Rose City has started a sideline they call their Monterrey Tub.  This is a beautiful planter bucket coming in four sizes, and it uses up the cedar that is not suited for arrow shafts.  Only straight grain, with no knots, becomes arrow material.  The Adameks are natives of the Oregon country, and as youngsters often visited the archery company, never thinking that one day they would be running it.  Noble took his college work in business administration, which has applied very well, and Jim has a masters in economics and his Ph.D. In engineering.  The latter has been especially useful because all of the machines in the plant had to be designed from scratch and Jim understands their workings.

 The process for getting a smooth, straight arrow shaft from a cedar tree has several stages.  First, the felled log is trucked to the Rose City property and cut into bolts.  The bolts are cut into squares.  The squares are cut into boards and the boards are dried for up to several months.  Then small square lengths of wood are cut from the boards to about arrow diameter, normally 11/32 or 23/64 and sometimes 5/16.

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The square lengths of wood are then conveyed into one of seven dowel lathes, entering as four-sided, but emerging round, smooth and polished as well.  The lathe cutters are only good for about one hour of this hard duty before they have to be re-honed to sharpness again.  Only the straight shafts will be kept, and a machine does this operation, too, discarding shafts that are not true.  These will not be thrown away either, but will be sold as plant supporters.  Then the shafts are graded for spine, again by a machine.  And finally, they are packaged up and mailed out to various companies, either to be resold to archers who will make their own arrows, or to be manufactured into painted arrows by a professional archery concern.

 Cedar shafts will last a long time, some figure between two hundred and three hundred years, unless they hit a rock, of course.  Storage usually is the place where good cedar arrows get warped.  The arrows should be stored in a fairly dry place, even if they have been heavily painted.  A rack made of two flat pieces of wood with holes for the arrows is a good way to keep the cedars straight.  The two pieces of flat wood are separated by about twenty-two to twenty-six inches and held together by a couple of struts.  It looks like a box kite in shape.  The arrows are thrust through the holes on the top flat section, and then down through the corresponding holes on the bottom flat section.  A middle section can be used if an archer wishes.  The flat sections of wood can be about one-half-inch thick, and are all drilled at the same time so that the holes match up.

 The Port Orford cedar arrow has been around for a long time, and it looks like it will be with us for some time to come.  They are not replacement arrows for compounds, nor will they necessarily outdo the modern types of shafts.  But they certainly have their place.  In shooting the longbow, they are first-line equipment.  In shooting the compound they can serve as first line, or as backup arrows on hunts, practice arrows, small game darts and varmint takers, all at a price that is very affordable and can give you some do-it-yourself fun in construction.

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Published by HoytFan221 on 29 Nov 2009

Buying New Arrows

I am in great need of new arrows, and am quite aware that it is an often difficult, yet important decision.  Each bow likes to shoot a certain kind/brand/weight/etc., and I need to know what kind I should get for my bow.  I have a 2005 Hoyt ViperTec XT 2000.  (I only want to hear comments from the people that have this bow or one very similar to it.)  Appriciate all input!

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Published by usaoutback on 16 Nov 2009

The Right Trail- How to blood trail your deer this year

Every hunter has an obligation to know how to trail a wounded animal. It is vital to the hunter to only take the shot that allows a clear path to the vitals of the animal. Know YOUR limitations and stick to them. Missed shots make lousy blood trails.
Imagine yourself in a tree stand during bow season and the buck of your dreams offers you a broadside shot. You draw your bow, aim, release and the buck bounds off into the brush. If you find yourself in this scenario this fall, here is some information that will help you bring your animal from the field to the freezer-

I. Pick a Spot- Mentally pick a spot on the animal when taking your shot; never look at the entire animal. Also, pick a landmark (spot) where the animal was standing when it was hit. Whether it is a tree, bush or rock, these objects will help you locate the beginning of the trail to your quarry.

II. Sit and Think- It seems to be commonly accepted practice to wait at least a half of an hour before trailing. Listen for the animal’s direction of travel. If a fatal shot was made, you may even hear the animal fall. Replay the shot and think of what the animal’s reaction was to the shot. Be patient. A quick pursuit could push the animal into clotting the wound. Massive bleeding is the cause of death when bowhunting. If the animal stumbled or ran off wobbly, the arrow probably hit a shoulder, leg or vertebrae. A gut or intestinal hit will cause an animal to stagger and run away slowly. Finding your arrow and blood trail will give you an idea where you hit the animal.

III. Find Your Arrow- After the waiting period, go to the point of impact and locate your arrow. Hair, blood, bone and fluid on the arrow can tell you where you hit the animal.

Ask yourself the following questions-
1. What color is the blood or fluid on the arrow?
2. Is there any brown or green fluid on the arrow?
3. Is the blood light or dark?
4. Are there any bubbles in the blood?
5. Is there any hair in the area?
6. Is there an odor to the arrow?

Every one of these questions will give you clues to locating your animal. Let’s go into more detail-

1. Blood Color. The blood color and consistency will help identify the type of hit. Bright red blood with no bubbles signifies a muscle/arterial hit. Dark red blood with no bubbles indicates a hit in a vein, liver or kidney. Pinkish blood with small bubbles is a good indicator of a vital hit in the heart/lung area. Blood that has a clear, odorous fluid with food matter is a sign of a stomach, intestine or bladder hit. If this is the case, you should wait at least 45 minutes to an hour before pursuing the animal. The animal will soon feel sick and lay down in the vicinity if it is not pursued too soon. Death could be in a few hours or a few days with this type of hit. Unless there is a threat of meat spoilage, give the animal at least four hours before searching heavily.

2. Hair. Look for any hair in the area where the animal was standing when it was hit. Broadheads ALWAYS cut hair upon entry. The hair you find can help identify where on the body you hit the animal. Long, dark hair comes from the neck and back of a deer. Short, dark hair grows on the head, legs and brisket. Light, white hair is from the belly and behind the legs.

IV. Mark Your Trail- I carry a roll of orange surveyor’s tape strictly for marking trails. It is very visible and will help identify a direction of travel if you lose the blood trail.*
*Note- Don’t forget to remove your markers after you find your animal. Always leave the woods cleaner than when you arrived.

V. Get Help- “Two heads are better than one” holds true when trailing a wounded animal. Back in 1989, I shot a fat little four point that ran off into the brush. Since I was hunting three miles from home, I drove home to ask my wife to help trail my deer. She was a great help following the blood drops that were easily lost in the red leaves of fall. There were times when I lost the trail but Denise kept me from straying off the deer’s direction of travel. We found the buck in less than an hour in a thicket less than 100 yards from where he was shot. It was gratifying to share the experience with the person who suffered through my countless hours of preseason rituals.

VI. Cut grids- If you find yourself at “the end of the trail,” cut grids starting at the last marker. I use a compass and markers to search an area and do so in a snail shell pattern. This type of search will eventually have you back-tracking to the origin of the trail. Check known escape routes, bedding areas and water sources in the area you are hunting. Wounded animals often return to the preferred areas of security- especially down hill when mortally wounded.

VII. Use All Clues- Every blade of grass, broken spider web and snapped twig can be a clue to finding your animal. Does a rock look like it was recently kicked? What direction is a broken weed pointing? Did a red squirrel or birds start making an unusual amount of noise in a thicket close by? All of these “little” things can make a difference.

VIII. Electronic Tracking Devices- There are electronic tracking devices on the market that measure temperature changes as slight as a degree and have ranges up to 300 yards. I don’t have any experience with these units but I thought I would mention that they are available.

Your proficiency with your weapon of choice will determine the future of hunting. Be a responsible hunter and acquire the skills needed to make a quick and clean killing shot this fall. Your actions represent ALL sportsmen.
If you are an experienced hunter and tracker, teach those nimrod skills to the less experienced hunters. Share the hunting experience with someone who has never hunted. By all means, get involved with your local sportsmen clubs. Join some of the state and national organizations that are fighting for your PRIVILEGE to hunt. By helping others in our ranks, we help ourselves. Happy blood trails.

*Learn about ‘Making Sense out of Scents’ and ‘Call of the Week’ by going to www.usaoutbacktv.com

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Published by Steve06 on 27 Oct 2009

Peep Site

Recently I purchased a used Alpine Micro. The past owner had a small peep site installed on it and I want to put a larger one on it. Is there a way to change these out without having to take it to a shop? This bow is for my wife and is smaller and has a less draw weight than mine and I’ve noticed I can put tension on the cams which allows the string to have slack and with and extra set of hands take the string off. Would this help me in changing out the site?

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Published by bigpoppa on 23 Sep 2009

Help with paper tuning!

 I have a Bowtech Allegiance VFT, 70# 30″ draw, whisker biscuit.  Shooting through paper the other day I noticed it is shooting tail low. I adjusted the rest up and down, but it didn’t make any difference, still shot tail low. My question, I’m shooting Beman ICS 400’s cut @ 28 1/2″ with 100 grain heads, are my arrows too light? If so, which arrows would you recommend?

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Published by randy116 on 04 Aug 2009

How can I speed up my admrial

I have a 2009 bowtech admiral. I am shooting 65 pounds on 28 inch draw. Is there any way I can adjust my modules and gain some speed.

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Published by Klyph on 28 Sep 2008

Planning the Perfect Hunting Season…

My wife and I have always wanted a large family. To date, we have a beautiful 4 year old daughter and a crazy “all boy” son… As many of you already know, kids take a lot of time and they deserve it! So needless to say, the amount of time in the woods, since having children has slowed some… but I am looking forward to the time when they are old enough that I can pass on the tradition and take them hunting. About a year ago, my wife had a miscarriage and as we continued to have a desire for a “big family” we decided that we would give it some time and try again as soon as the doctors felt it was ok. Once we got the ok, we began looking at our calendars and with us both working we tried to “plan” the best time to bring another little one into the world and our schedule…

With my wife being a teacher, she quickly thought, “wouldn’t it be nice to have my 6-8 week maternity leave line up with the holidays so I can get a few extra weeks off.” Without giving it much thought I agreed… what was I thinking? I wasn’t…

We have always had an easy time getting pregnant… usually we just start thinking about it and “ta-dah,” one is on the way…

Well, needless to say this time was no different. We were very excited and as we looked at the calendar to figure out the baby’s due date, it quickly hit me… the baby was due Sept 29th… and the archery season begins Oct 4th… panic quickly set it… as I shared this new found revelation with my wife, she didn’t seem to be nearly upset enough to me… She was more upset with me than the due date!

As my mind was racing, I blurted out, “Actually that will probably work out great! You’ll be on vacation throughout all archery season!” The look on her face told me, everything… but she didn’t just end it with a look… “What do you mean, Vacation?”

Now I was in trouble. I couldn’t see any way out. So I tried to laugh it off… she wasn’t as amused.

So for the last 9 months, every time someone asked about the due date, I just quickly thew in a quick, “Yep, my wife loves me so much she wanted to be home with the kids during archery season, so I could have the best season ever! Isn’t she great?!” 

It’s kinda funny how men always smiled and seemed excited for me, yet women just looked at me with such disgust…

As my hopes for a hunting season seemed doomed, especially since our last two children have all been more than 5 days late… I have started looking for more places closer to home, in hopes of some quick morning hunts before and after work… I just wish daylight savings came sooner…

Well, this week Collin Jonathon was born! And its funny how this hunting season may not turn out as far as time in the woods is concerned… but it still will always rank up there as the best fall of my life!

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Published by Big Shot on 26 Sep 2008

Tools of the Trade

Here I sit, having payed WAY too much to get 5 different bows tuned and ready to shoot. I ask myself, why in the world does it cost that much, and the answer, you pay for ignorance. Not theirs, but ours. Ignorance of how to do it. Ignorance of what all you would need to do it. And in the end, ignorance of the fact that you NEED to know how to do it. What would happen if one day I was on a hunt, and first thing in the day I snap a d-loop or drop my bow and knock my rest out of alignment? My day would be ruined, quite frankly my whole hunting trip could be ruined.

So I add up the money I spent on getting the work done for me and realize that I could have bought all the equipment it would take to just do it all myself. Of course, it wouldn’t be done by now (about a month after the fact), because there’s that ignorance thing I mentioned before. Can’t be that hard though, right?!? So, let the journey begin.

  • Bow press in the mail… check
  • Basic set of allen wrenches… check
  • A few bow specific tools (I’ll get into the details later)… check
  • Places to go to for information… check
  • Basic mechanical knowledge… check
  • Someone to go to when I inevitably mess it all up… not without giving away another arm!!

So, what does it take to set up shop? Not as much as you would think, but there are some must haves. First and foremost among them is a space to work. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like you need a large dedicated shop, or even a dedicated corner for that matter. Your space can be as simple as your coffee table or kitchen table. A big word of advice though, get a small folding table to use instead. Nothing will hinder relations with your significant other faster than ruining said coffee or kitchen table!!! It doesn’t need to be big, just somewhere to lay out your bow and tools. If you do have to set up on the furniture, lay out an old towel for a work surface, it will keep your bow from getting scratched as well. Now that you have a work area, on to the tools.

Bow Press
There are lots of options here. You can go portable with something like the Bowmaster, or get a full blown shop style setup with the Apple Press and stand. There are tons of options in prices ranging from ~$40 all the way into the thousands. The most important thing is to make sure it will work for your bow. Some presses will not work for split limb bows without an adapter that you will have to buy. Some will not press parallel limb bows without being modified. The difference here is in the way the limbs flex on a parallel vs. non-parallel bow. Parallel limbs flex vertically when the bow is drawn due to the fact that they are essentially in a horizontal plane. Non-parallel limbs will flex somewhere between vertical and horizontal, roughly at an angle towards the nock of the string. Due to this difference, if you try and press a parallel limb on a press not designed for it, it will not press fully and could damage the bow. Same applies to the non-parallel limb on a parallel press.

Presses are used for many things. Anytime you need to modify anything attached to the string, you will need to press it so that you can separate the strands of the string to get the accessories in between them. You need it to adjust cam timing (the rotation of the cams) or change draw length mods. Also for when it comes time to change out aging strings and cables, or repair damaged ones. You shouldn’t need it that often, but when you do need it there is no substitute.
Examples….

Bow Vise
A simple device for holding your bow. It can be pretty hard to work on a bow unless you have a third arm!! That’s where the vise comes in. A simple one will hold your bow in one position allowing you to work on your bow. A better one will allow you to rotate the bow in many directions once it is mounted. This will allow you to get the bow in just the right position for the work you need to do.
Example….

Allen Wrenches
or hex keys, whatever you want to call them. You know what these things are. You will need multiple sizes. A decent standard set from any hardware store will do. I have never run across any metric, yet. It couldn’t hurt, though, to have a set of those just in case.

Screwdrivers
You won’t need them all that often, but you will need them. Have a simple set of common and philips on hand.

Levels
Not your daddy’s variety. A string level, and an arrow level.

These will help you in setting up your rest. Place the string level, where else…. on the string!!! Use it to make sure your bow is level vertically (up and down for those that always get them mixed up) when in the vise. Now you place the arrow level on the arrow and adjust your rest until your arrow is perfectly horizontal.

Nock Set Pliers and Brass Nocks
Brass nocks are useful for many things. You can use them to attach your drop away rest cord to your cable. Place them above and below a kisser button to secure it in place. And of course even use them to mark your nock point.

Nock set pliers, obviously, are for attaching those little brass guys. A good pair will also have a lever to pry them off with.

Draw Length Arrow

Basically a long, unfletched arrow with markings toward the end. These markings are distance measurements that allow for checking draw length. It can be used for Three functions. First, draw it back with a recurve bow, or compound with no draw stop, and you can find your draw length (someone needs to help you here to make sure your form is right, otherwise you won’t get the correct draw length). Second, Draw it in your set up compound bow to check the draw length it is set at. Lastly, draw it in the same bow and use it to determine the arrow length that will be safe to use with your setup.  Although not necessary, it can come in handy.

Draw Weight Scale
Many different varieties are available. Simple ones like this that are hand held…

All the way up to digital versions, or ones that are mounted to the ceiling. They are handy if you want to know the exact weight you have your bow set to. However, not all that necessary. Example… Lets say your bow maxes out at 60#, and the company says you can adjust the draw weight by 2# per full turn of the limb bolts. Then you know that if you back the bolts out 3 turns each, then you just roughly set your bow to 54#. I don’t think it is all that important to know that it might actually be 53.2#, or 55#. If you know within a pound I would say your are good. Just get those numbers from your bows manufacturer.

D-Loop Pliers
Last thing you want while our hunting, or anytime for that matter, is for your bow to fail. If you don’t tighten your d-loop tight enough it is a sure fire failure point waiting to happen. The easiest way to tighten it is with a pair of d-loop pliers. These are specially made pliers designed to fit around a d-loop. Then when you squeeze the handle, instead of the two pieces closing tightly together, they spread. The formed head holds the knot ends in place while stretching out the loop and tightening the knots.
Example….

Serving Tool
While I’m sure serving can and has been installed without one of these, I can’t imagine doing it. A simple tool of either metal of plastic designed to hold tension on your serving thread while you wrap your string. You place your spool of thread in the tool, and use a wing nut to get the tension you desire. Then, once you have started the serving, you simply spin the tool around the string until the serving is the length you want, and then wrap in the end of the thread.

Well, that pretty well covers the most common tools you will need and see when it comes to setting up and maintaining your bow. I tried to be as comprehensive as I could, but there are quite a few gadgets out there, and I aim to cover all I can. Those will have to wait for another day however, so stay tuned for more. I’m going high tech in the next installment.  Look for part two covering lasers and more.

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Published by Louisianaboy on 20 Sep 2008

A Skull Mounting “How to”

I get asked all the time the steps I use when skull mounting a deer, hog or just about any critter. There are several different ways to accomplish this from start to finish and I thought I would share a few for anyone wanting to try this on their own. I am not an expert by any means, but this is the process and tips that have worked for me. I will explain things using a whitetail as example but there are some things that are a little different when skull mounting a hog, coyote or bobcat.

I have boiled many skulls and hate it! It is time consuming because you have to be attentive to the skull when boiling and it takes a lot of time to cut and scrape the skull clean. Boiling is also more expensive since you have to supply fuel to get that water boiling! I began macerating (rotting) after a friend brought me a ten point that he had hung on the fence for about a week. The only thing I could do was macerate rate since it was well on its way to being rotten.

Maceration

I begin by cutting all the hide of off the deer. I use a scalpel and start by making an incision down the middle of his nose, between the eyes and all the to the end of the hide on the neck. Be careful not to cut into the skull with the scalpel or knife and scar the bone. I then strip the hide from the nose and then go around the horns to the back of the head. Once the hide is removed I cut off as much meat as possible. I leave the lower jaw bone on until after the maceration because it is much easier to remove at that point. I then take a hacksaw and cut the neck off right behind the skull. You can feel the ridge on top of the skull; move down the neck about 2 inches and make the cut.

I then submerge the skull in water up to the base of the antlers. I have found that the blue tupperware bins at Wal-Mart work wonders for this or you can use an old crawfish pot, five gallon bucket or just about anything that is large enough to soak the skull in. I have been told to pour a bit of yeast or beer in the water and it will speed up the growth of the bacteria. I have used both and macerated without and could not tell the difference. Being from Louisiana, I hate to waste cold beer on a rotting deer skull! Also make sure the you have this set up away from the house or at least downwind cause trust me….. it will stink!

It is a waiting game at this point. You should check on the skull about every 3-4 days and replace the nasty water with fresh water. When draining the water, leave about half or a quarter of the water in the container. This will keep the colony of bacteria you have grown in the container and speed up the process. The bacteria need warm water to grow and feed so during the winter I place aquarium heaters on the side of the container to aid in the process. Aquarium heaters at Wal-Mart work well but the best I have found are Elite Glass Heaters (internet). The maceration process normally takes about two to three weeks depending on the water temperature. I place my bins in an old chest freezer and run the extension cords in there to keep the heat contained. By doing this I cut my maceration process down to about 10-12 days.

This is where it gets nasty! Once the maceration process is complete I use a scalpel and pair of long needle-nose pliers to pull the meat off. The rotten meat will easily pull off the bone leaving a nice clean skull. Be sure to pull the cartilage out of the nasal cavity and you might have to do some scraping on the back of the skull to detach some of those tough pieces of tissue. Once all the meat and tissue is remove spray the skull down with a water hose and be sure to wash the brain out of the brain cavity. Be careful with the tips of the nose. They might detach but can be glued back in place once the skull is dry.

The next step is the most important in the entire process of skull mounting an animal. DEGREASING! I have learned this lesson the hard way. If all the grease is not gotten out of the bone then it will begin turning yellow or have dark yellow spots throughout the skull. I degrease by using the same tupperware container as above. Place the skull in the container and fill with water up to the burr of the antler. I use the clear Dawn Dishwashing Detergent (Bleach Alternative on the label) but pure ammonia can also be used. Again, an aquarium heater will speed up this process but is not required. I normally change the water and about every 2 days. Each skull is different and the change can be determined by the cloudiness of the water which is actually fat deposits. When changing the degrease solution be sure and rinse off the skull and container completely. Repeat this process for about ten days or until the water is beginning to stay clear. Let the skull dry and if there is dark spots still present the repeat the degreasing process again. The longer you degrease the whiter the skull you will have.

The last step is whitening the skull. DO NOT USE BLEACH! Bleach will break down the bone and eventually turn the skull yellow. I whiten with 30% peroxide and Basic White (both found at any beauty supply store). I make a paste by combining the peroxide and BW and use a small paintbrush to cover the skull. Do not get the paste on the antlers! It will stain them! Let the skull sit over night and wash the paste off with a water hose. Place the skull in the sun for a couple of days and you should a finished skull mount. If there are any dark or dull spots on the skull you can repeat the whitening process again.

Hogs, Coyotes ,Bobcats, etc.

Hogs will take longer to degrease. They have a ton of grease deep in the bone and I have actually degreased boar skulls for two months. The tusk on a boar is hollow until it gets to the tip and is filled with tissue and fat. Be sure and pull the tusk completely out to make sure it is clean. It can be glued back in and I usually “pull” the tusk to make them look a little longer.

When macerating small critters such as bobcats and coyotes be sure to watch for loose teeth when dumping the water. They tend to fall out but can be glued in when finished.

I hope this helps ‘yall.

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Published by Klyph on 18 Sep 2008

Hand Climber Seat Strap – A MUST have

I used a Summit Viper for the last few years and loved it as a climbing stand… the only issue I had with it was its large frame when carrying it through the woods, and the amount of space it took up in my vehicle. So with much hesitation I traded it for a hand climber that folds completely flat and took care of my “issues” with the summit.

The Problem that quickly revealed itself was that the hand climber stand is much more difficult to use, especially with winter clothing, as I found out late season last year. As I climbed my first tree, I wondered why I ever got rid of my summit and spent most of my time contemplating listing my new stand on AT Classifieds as soon as I got home. Fortunately all wasn’t lost as I was able to harvest a nice doe and my thoughts quickly became focused on the “rush” of the hunt. That was my last tag of the year and my equipment was put away and I didn’t think much about my new issue until a few months ago.

I noticed the new Lone Wolf Hand Climbers now come with a strap that you use to sit on as you climb. (Link given for visual purposes: http://www.lonewolfstands.com/shoppingcart/Products/Hand-Climber-SitStrap__LWHCS.aspx ) I quickly ran to my tangled mess of old safety harnesses and created my own seat strap. (Disclaimer: Use at you own risk) 

I took it to the back yard and fell back in Love with my hand climber!

I now have the best of both worlds… A light, compact stand, that can also be used effortlessly as a sit and climb style stand.

If you are a penny pincher like my self, I am sure you can find some strapping around the house to use… but I would recommend for safety purposes to go out and purchase a seat strap if you don’t have on on your hand climber. It is worth it!

 

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