Sonntag, 29. Dezember 2013

The stinky roe buck

I got a surprising present a few days ago! It was a skull of a roe buck – yay! But it was pretty dirty and there was some tissue on it as well. Due to this tissue it had a smell on it. It wasn’t the typically stench of rotten things, but the skull didn’t smell like a bouquet of roses either. Normally I don’t deal with stinky bones. I use to leave them in the wild or in the garden until they are clean enough for me. But this time I didn’t have the chance, I had to take it to my flat right away. Read more about the way I cleaned it under the cut!

A little bit about the story: It was Sunday the 8th of December 2013 and I had to work. In the evening the husband of one of my colleagues visited us and gave me a bag with something he found on his tour. It was a pretty dirty skull of a roe buck! Wow, what a present! After a lot of obeisance and many thanks-yous I brought it up to the personal room. After work there was a strange smell in that room and I think everybody was happy that I left with my dubious bag.
At home I put the skull in a (Haribo) plastic bucket and poured hot water over it. I added some washing powder as well. I took care that the antlers didn’t get wet. That’s very important, because the antlers will lose the brown color and turn white.
That was my first step and I’m sorry that I didn’t take a propper photo of the skull before I put it in the bath. It was dark outdoors and the skull smelled too hard for to leave it in our home for too long. Especially my boyfriend was like “Yowz, it stinks!”.

... and after.
In the next morning I changed the water and added some all-purpose cleaner to it. I think that cleaner was better than the washing powder because it was a biological cleaner. But seriously, it was too cold for things to normally soak-in. But it helped to get rid of a few flesh parts or cartilage tissues - phew. I left the skull in its bath for the whole week, because usually I start the day when it was dark and come home when it is dark again. Or put differently: I never had time for my new skull.

But finally the weekend arrived! I bought “hydrogen peroxide 35%” in the drugstore for the final cleaning. That kind of peroxide is highly acidic, so I had to be careful and wear gloves at all times. I hoped that it will burn away the remaining tissues and it will whiten the skull as well. The peroxide also whiten the antlers so I wrapped foil around them.
For a better standing of the skull I put a stone into the bucket. I poured hot water over the skull again and added a bit less than 10% of the peroxide to the water. My bucket was not so tall so a small part of the skull plate wasn’t under the water. I put some wet sanitary/household paper over these parts. So I left it to soak during the night.

In the next morning I was disappointed. I think I used too less of the peroxide, because some tissues were still there. I tried to scrape it off, but frankly it was very sticky! The bone under the pedicle was still brownish, so I brush the pure peroxide to these spots. It foamed and after a while it turned lighter. I think if I repeat that a few times it would turn white like the rest of the skull, but I lost patience ^^” I left it in the sun for drying. But it still has that smell on it, so I need to use my hairspray. That’s a good way to “un-stink” things. Many years ago I got a fox and a beech marten skull and both were smelly, too. After some hair spray they smelled well/normal.

It foamed.
After the whole cleaning and stuff I can say: I hate doing such things. Normally I don’t have problems with cleaning skulls and bones, but I hate bones with tissues on it and I hate to handle things with poison. Maybe it was easier in springtime, but at least it was a good experience.
Now, let’s have closer look at that little brat. A fox chewed the whole nose away, what a pity. And there are no lower jaws.

The antlers are very beautiful. Not that strong, but it wasn’t a lesser buck neither. I love the pearling of the antlers. The left antler grew a bit weaker than the right one.
I own two trophies of older roe bucks and both have short and thick pedicles. That’s a sign of older/mature roe bucks. Comparing this buck with others, the pedicles are not that thick.

The teeth look like they are in good condition, so it wasn’t an old animal. Maybe he was three years old? I don’t know. It’s very hard to identify the age of a roe buck.

Why it died? It doesn’t seem that he was weak, because his antlers grew well. Roe bucks lose their antlers in late autumn, so it must’ve died before. Did he get shot by a hunter with bad aim? Or was he hit by a car and humbled into the forest to die? I don’t know it, which is not a good feeling. Of course I don’t know the cause of death of almost every skull I own, but… It seemed that this roe buck was in its best age when it died. That’s sad.

But I love the new member of my collection.

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