Pronghorn Sheath Care Tutorial (Pic Heavy)

OXN939

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Found some suggestions online, but thought I'd consolidate and share some things that worked for me and lessons learned from the past few weeks as this information hopefully is becoming pertinent to others.

Step 1, kill a Pronghorn.

Screenshot_20220911_202255.jpg

Step 2, cape out and remove either the skull plate or skull. This is mine as a carry on. Try to keep this rig refrigerated as much as possible during transport for reasons to be discussed in step 4.

Screenshot_20220911_202334.jpg

Step 3, drill a tiny hole (1/16th inch in diameter, about 1/2 inch deep) at the base of each sheath and insert a small roofing brad to ensure it fits. This will act as a marker for the natural position of the horn sheaths when you reattach them. Remove and retain the roofing brads once fit is confirmed.

Screenshot_20220911_194916.jpg

Step 4, remove the sheaths. For anyone who isn't schooled up on Antelope anatomy, bucks (and many does) have a core of bone surrounded by a horn sheath that is biologically somewhere between the antlers of deer and horns of sheep. This becomes immediately apparent when you're caping one out- there isn't really a defined border between the cape and the base of the antlers like exists on deer or elk- the fur just kind of becomes denser and denser until it forms the base of the horn. In any case, detaching the horn sheath from the skull plate is in your best interest, as they are held together with a layer of soft tissue that rots and smells really terrible. The best way to do this is by putting the entire skull plate rig into a plastic bag and letting it rot naturally in the sun for a few days outside. This will get pretty gross, but it avoids the potential of deforming the sheaths that can occur if microwaves or boiling is used to separate them from the skull/ skull plate. Keep trying it every day, and as the tissue gets softer it will eventually get to the point where you will be able to use a combination of twisting and pulling to get the sheaths off. They will look like this:

Screenshot_20220911_194408.jpg

Screenshot_20220911_194425.jpg

Step 5, boil the skull plate. This removes most of the soft tissue and "stops the stink" of the skull.

Step 6, clean and desiccate the sheaths. These are the hardest part to get to a neutral level of smell. I washed mine inside and out thoroughly with dish soap and the mechanical action of a toothbrush and then propped them up to drain the water and dry overnight. Once dry, I filled them with baking soda and let sit for about 48 hours. I then changed the baking soda and let them sit again. By this point, they were 90% better than when they came off. You may have to add another layer of scrubbing with soap and/ or baking soda depending on how yours end up.

Step 7, wash sheaths one more time to remove baking soda. Let dry again.

Step 8, reattach sheaths. I used JB weld and it worked great. I basically applied a liberal amount of epoxy to the tip of each bony interior cone, carefully slide the horn sheath back over it and the aligned the 1/16th inch holes using the roofing brads from step 3 and then used painter's tape to ensure the sheaths were sitting naturally as the epoxy dried.

Screenshot_20220911_203614.jpg

Once it's dry, remove your brads for the final time and you're good to go!

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Hopefully this is helpful to anyone doing it their first time. I'm sure there are other ways to skin the cat, but this is what worked for me. Good luck to everyone with tags!
 
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wytx

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The sheaths will slip off without a bag after a couple of days or so. Never used JB weld just some paper machet type stuff from the taxi supply house.
Be sure to remove the lining in the horn sheaths or they will smell forever.
No need for a nail as the sheaths go right back on the bony cores just fine without it, right where they were.
Good info but seems like a few un necessary steps.

If it's a book head do not put anything on the horns to preserve them, B&C and P&Y do not like that before scoring. After score, I use Skidmore's liquid beeswax wood finish. Gives a natural looking shine to the horns without being oily and seals them so they wont dry out and shrink quite as much.
 
OP
OXN939

OXN939

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No need for a nail as the sheaths go right back on the bony cores just fine without it, right where they were.
Good info but seems like a few un necessary steps.

They do approximately, but I was able to extend or tighten the spread of mine by over an inch from the horns' original location when they were on the cores loose. The nail ensures that your mount is an accurate representation of the live animal.
 

Andrew12gauge

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Ever had one where the sheaths just wouldn’t slip? I’ve had my 2020 buck in the freezer all this time trying to decide whether I was gonna do a euro myself or send it off for a shoulder mount. I decided finally to euro it myself. I’ve had it out of the freezer for 2 weeks(1st week was thawing in a cooler). Skinned it last Wednesday and then set it out and all the flesh and brains and stuff rotted but those horn sheaths seem just as solid as the day I shot it. Any ideas?


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stonewall

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Ever had one where the sheaths just wouldn’t slip? I’ve had my 2020 buck in the freezer all this time trying to decide whether I was gonna do a euro myself or send it off for a shoulder mount. I decided finally to euro it myself. I’ve had it out of the freezer for 2 weeks(1st week was thawing in a cooler). Skinned it last Wednesday and then set it out and all the flesh and brains and stuff rotted but those horn sheaths seem just as solid as the day I shot it. Any ideas?


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Could be that they are more or less freeze dried on since it’s been two years. I’m guessing you may have to attempt to rehydrate them. Not sure the best way to go about that…. Fwiw I boiled some years ago (before I knew better) and they were fine. I think what I’d do is soak it over night and then see if you can make any headway. Just a thought
 

Hoosker Doo

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Great info OXN939 and wytx. I've shot quite a few, but they just go on the pile in the garage. Maybe I'll try to get one house worthy next time I shoot a nice one.
 

HiMtnHntr

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More than one way to skin a cat... that looks like a pretty good way.

They key to getting the sheaths off is to cook 4-6 hours with bottom of the horn partially submerged. Stick a 2x4 in between the horns from the rear, put your foot down on the 2x4, and TWIST. Before you go thinking this will ruin the horns, I've done gobs of antelope this way.... of course, this is best done asap after the harvest.

I use borax inside the horns for a few weeks. All our skulls have the sheaths on loose. They have to pass my wife's sniff test to come inside.

I started using butcher block conditioner to brush on and add a sheen to the horns. Works pretty well.

Lots of different ways to do things.
 

jruff002

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Ever had one where the sheaths just wouldn’t slip? I’ve had my 2020 buck in the freezer all this time trying to decide whether I was gonna do a euro myself or send it off for a shoulder mount. I decided finally to euro it myself. I’ve had it out of the freezer for 2 weeks(1st week was thawing in a cooler). Skinned it last Wednesday and then set it out and all the flesh and brains and stuff rotted but those horn sheaths seem just as solid as the day I shot it. Any ideas?


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throw the head in a bucket of water, they'll come off just let it soak and periodically try until they do, put a lil grit into sheaths when your twisting and pulling at same time.
 

wytx

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The horns will slip right off after about 2 days or so just sitting out.
The stink comes from the lining in the horns, get it out and they then smell like an antelope, they don't stink.
The paper mache type stuff allows you to adjust the horn sheaths to how they were when alive.

I'm thinking you're right about the freeze drying your horns on, allow them some moisture to get them to slip off.
 

Andrew12gauge

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throw the head in a bucket of water, they'll come off just let it soak and periodically try until they do, put a lil grit into sheaths when your twisting and pulling at same time.

The one ended up slipping off after about a week, the skull was pretty rotted up by then, but I took it down to the coin op car wash and hit it with the high pressure rinse. Ended up having to boil the other sheath off but I finally got it to come off today.


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