Hogs are UGLY, no two ways about it. A big boar, however, especially one with a lot of Euro blood showing, or strong regression from the domestic pig side, can be very impressive. A mounted boar’s head can be quite a striking trophy, but for those who don’t want to spend that kind of money, a skull or “European” style mount can be almost as impressive. Even better, if you have some patience, you can prepare your own “Euro” mount for almost zero cash outlay.
The first step, of course, is to shoot a hog worthy of displaying. There are a lot of them out there, but the big boars often behave like true trophy animals, and play hard to get. They can be solitary when not trailing a willing sow, and will usually be nocturnal, often not showing around feeders or other areas of attraction except in the hours between midnight and dawn. When you do get a shot at a big one, you want to put him down DRT. You don’t want to have to follow him into the brush and risk him being only wounded. This means use enough gun to do the job, take care in shot placement, and if he goes down, even if you are sure he’s dead, put another round into him – for insurance. If the skull is to be prepared and displayed, avoid head shots. A high shoulder shot that breaks one or both shoulders and damages the spine is about as sure as it gets, but neck shots are also deadly – aim just behind the ear.
When the boar is dead and hanging from the cleaning rack – and, yes, even most big boars are worth butchering, the backstraps on a big one are massive and tender, and the hams are usually good, ribs and shoulders are a toss-up, depending on how much meat you want or need – I would sever the head from the body before beginning to skin it out, realizing that is is where a lot of the patience comes in. Get as much meat and other tissue off as possible – also the eyes, of course – then boil the head in water to loosen and remove what did not come off with your knife the first time. You still won’t have gotten it all, so boil it again in a mild peroxide solution and then scrape some more. Some people use a form of beetle to fully clean the skull – I think you can even buy them on the internet – and others might put the skull where ants can get to it. Just don’t leave it where coyotes, possums, rats, or dogs can get at it, or it will be damaged.
The peroxide will also help bleach the skull, but what I have done is to get it thoroughly clean and dry, then paint the thing with a high gloss marine epoxy paint. It will come out whiter and shinier that way than with any other method I’ve tried. The paint also gets in cracks and helps cover them. There are many ways to mount the skull for display, or it can simply be sat on a shelf or the corner of a desk.
When the skull is boiled, you may notice the tusks will get loose in the jaw. A hog has it’s long teeth – the “cutters” on the bottom, and short teeth known as “whetters” on top. Rubbing these two against each other is how the boar keeps those cutters sharp. Some hunters just pull the tusks out and mount them on a wooden plague, which makes an interesting trophy, also. When I did the skull of a boar with 2 1/2 inch cutters, I found I could pull them out to a length of over 6 inches – there is that much tooth inside the jaw, helping give power to their use in a fight. At first I planned to push them back in where they belonged and glue them in place, but then I began to suspect that I now knew the secret behind a lot of the mounts I saw at hunting shows with exceptionally long cutters, so I left them pulled out and THEN glued them in place! As long as I am straight with those who see it, I figure no harm is done, and I think this method of showing off the full length of the tusks is more impressive than just the tusks by themselves.
I found some balls designed to be shot in some sort of kids toy gun that fit the eye sockets perfectly. They are yellow, so they aren’t very realistic, but look better than an empty eye socket. Maybe one day I’ll replace them with white balls with red bloodlines all over them? Ought to be able to find something like that around Halloween?
Because my boar showed a lot of Euro – or Russian – traits, I have christened the skull “Boris”. He was a lot of work, but I have my eye on a couple of his former companions I hope may be on the wall beside him one day soon.
For some types of terrain, night hunting is best for trophy hogs, and night vision equipment can be a big help. Generally, the cheaper Gen I units are not too good, but the Pulsar Digisight gets good results, and can be used in the daytime as well. Top of the line are the newer Gen 4 models, but pricey.
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