How Much Does a European Mount Cost?

Last Updated on January 21, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

A European mount, also known as a skull mount, is a popular way to preserve and display the skull and antlers of a deer, elk, or other big game animal as a hunting trophy. But how much does a European mount cost?

The price can vary quite a bit based on the size and type of animal, who prepares the mount, and other factors. This guide will break down the typical costs and considerations for getting a European mount done.

How Much Does a European Mount Cost?

For a standard white-tailed deer skull, expect to spend $150 to $300 for a professionally done European mount. Here’s a breakdown of typical pricing:

  • DIY skull preparation – $0 to $50 for tools, supplies, and safety gear.
  • Skull cleaning/bleaching service – $50 to $150 if you outsource this step.
  • Mounting materials – $25 to $100 for a finished wood, composite, or metal plaque.
  • Taxidermy mounting fee – $75 to $200 for professional installation on the plaque.

Extra large trophy bucks may cost slightly more. Smaller antelope or wild hog skulls often cost a bit less.

DIY European mounts can reduce the price to $50 to $150 but take more time and effort.

A Taxidermy.net user reported a price of $250 for deer and $300 for bears, moose, and elk for cleaning and whitening only.

On HuntTalk.com the reported price ranges from $80 to $150, with the lower end for jobs with plenty of time and the higher end for rush jobs.

Based on a discussion on ArcheryTalk.com, prices were reported to range from $50 to $150, depending on the plaque. The cost for just the skull was estimated to be between $50 and $75, while a simple single panel plaque could cost $75 to $100, and a pedestal style mounting panel around $100 to $150.

The WildlifeObsessionsTaxidermy.net website lists the pricing for European skull mounts, with skulls on panels ranging from $300 to $375, and specific prices for different animals such as bison, black bear, deer, elk, moose, and small game.

An article in MossyOak.com mentions that the average cost for a skull mount is $150, including a plaque or other mount. If wanting only the skull mount done by itself, it is closer to $75.

Typical Taxidermy Prices for Other Game Skulls

Larger big game skulls usually cost more to mount due to size and materials:

  • Elk – $300 to $600
  • Moose – $500 to $800
  • Caribou – $400 to $700
  • Mule Deer – $200 to $400
  • Pronghorn Antelope – $150 to $300
  • Bear – $400 to $1,000
  • Mountain Lion or coyote – $300 to $500

Exotic African game like kudu can cost $1,500 or more for a professionally done European mount. The animal, taxidermist skill, and plaque details significantly influence exotic species pricing.

What Is a European Mount?

A European mount involves removing all skin, tissue, and cartilage from the skull, then bleaching and preserving the bare skull and antlers. The finished product is mounted on a plaque or shield for display. Unlike a traditional taxidermy shoulder mount, a European mount focuses just on the bones rather than a lifelike recreation of the entire animal.

European mounts are highly prized as hunting trophies and wildlife art. They allow hunters to proudly display their prize buck or bull without taking up as much wall space as a full taxidermy mount. European mounts also cost significantly less than a full shoulder mount.

Cost Factors for European Mounts

Several factors impact the overall European skull mount pricing:

  • Size of the animal – Larger skulls and antlers take more time, effort, and materials to prepare, bleach, and mount. A deer skull costs less than an elk, which costs less than a moose.
  • Skull preparation – Field dressing, degreasing, and de-fleshing the skull before mounting adds labor costs. DIY kits skip this step.
  • Bleaching technique – Using chemicals like hydrogen peroxide costs less than beetles which clean skulls naturally.
  • Mounting materials – Simple wood plaques minimize costs versus ornate carved wooden shields or framed mounts.
  • Taxidermy services – DIY mounting saves money but risks damage. Professionals charge more for their expertise.

The European Mount Process

To understand what goes into the costs, it helps to learn the step-by-step process for creating a European mount:

1. Skull Preparation

After harvesting the animal, the skull must be carefully field dressed, degreased, and de-fleshed before mounting. This can be done yourself or dropped off with a taxidermist. DIY kits include chemicals to aid the cleaning process.

2. Whitening and Degreasing the Skull

The skull then goes through a whitening or bleaching process using chemicals like hydrogen peroxide or borax to brighten and disinfect the bone. Beetles are another natural cleaning method. This can take days or weeks depending on technique.

3. Mounting and Display

Finally, the finished skull gets securely mounted to a shield or plaque for display. Skulls are usually bolted onto a wood or composite plaque board. The mount can then be hung on a wall or displayed on a shelf.

DIY vs Professional European Mounts

Another factor affecting cost is whether you take on the European mount process yourself or hire a professional taxidermist.

Doing It Yourself

With some research and the right supplies, European mounts can be done at home for under $100 to $200. You’ll need:

  • Knife for field dressing the skull initially
  • Pot, hot plate, chemicals for boiling/whitening the skull
  • Safety gear like gloves, mask, apron, eye protection
  • Drill and hardware to mount skull on plaque

Watch tutorials to learn proper techniques. Be prepared for unpleasant smells and a lengthy process requiring trial and error. Risks include permanently damaging the skull or your health.

You might also like our articles on the cost of deer mounts, deer processing, and venison.

Hiring a Taxidermist

While pricier, experienced taxidermists produce quality, consistent European mounts for $200 to $500+. The extra cost is worth it for many hunters to preserve a special trophy.

Look for certified taxidermists experienced in European mounts. Check examples of their work and customer reviews. Quality and artistry varies drastically between pros.

Budgeting and Saving Money on European Mounts

Here are a few tips to keep costs down:

  • Opt for smaller plaques – such as plain wood or composite vs. ornate carvings.
  • Use bleach or peroxide instead of expensive beetle cleans.
  • Do the initial skull prep and cleaning yourself then hire a pro just for mounting.
  • Find deals from new taxidermists building their portfolio.
  • Split costs with hunting buddies – share a taxidermist fee.
  • Reuse old antique plaques or barnwood for a rustic look.

Be cautious about the cheapest options which can risk damage during amateur DIY prep or bleaching. Focus on cost-effectiveness, not necessarily the cheapest price.

Choosing a Taxidermist for a European Mount

For quality and artistry, the taxidermist makes all the difference. Here’s how to select the right pro:

  • Check credentials – Look for certification from the National Taxidermists Association or state agencies.
  • View past work examples – Ensure they have experience with European mounts. Look at photos of completed pieces.
  • Read customer reviews – Contact references and ask to see examples in person.
  • Get quotes – Prices should be clearly defined upfront, get estimates from 3+ pros.
  • Ask about turnaround time – It can take several months during busy seasons.
  • Confirm they do custom bleaching and whitening in-house. This improves results.
  • Evaluate their staining, engraving, and finishing skills. Details like realistic antlers demonstrate artistry.

Taking the time to find the right taxidermist is worth the investment in your trophy.

The Significance of European Mounts

Skull Mount ExampleBeyond the price considerations, European mounts hold special significance for hunters and wildlife enthusiasts. The skillfully preserved skulls and antlers serve as treasured keepsakes and connection to the animal and the hunt. They allow you to proudly display your trophy.

European mounts also have artistic merit for their bleached bones and dramatic shapes. They can make striking focal points and conversational pieces for a cabin, lodge, or rustic home decor.

For hunters, European mounts represent memories made during the hunt and offer a way to honor the animal. They showcase the animal’s unique features like antler size, shape, and bone structure. Sound preparation and mounting transforms the skull into a beautiful work of natural art.

Customer Experiences with European Mount Prices

To learn from other hunters’ experiences, here are some examples of customer feedback on European mount costs:

  • “Paid $275 for a semi-professional to mount my prized elk bull. Worth every penny for the quality and artistry.”
  • “Saved money doing the boil and bleach myself then paid $125 for the taxidermist to do the final mounting. It tuned out great.”
  • “The $350 I spent was painful at first but now I consider my deer mount one of my most prized hunting possessions.”
  • “After shopping around, I got quotes from $200 to over $500! I went with a new taxidermist for $225 and got a perfect mount.”

Most hunters ultimately feel the cost of a European mount is money well spent to preserve a special trophy animal and memories. Taking time to find a reputable taxidermist delivers quality and value.

Caring for Your European Mount

To get the most value from your investment, be sure to properly care for your European mount over time. Here are some tips:

  • Keep it out of direct sunlight to prevent fading of the bleached bone.
  • Use a sealant like polyurethane on the antlers to protect them. Reapply every 2-3 years.
  • Dust regularly with a soft brush to keep it free of debris and cobwebs.
  • Check for pests like carpet beetles that can damage mounts. Store off the floor and avoid basements.
  • Consider locking wired displays so they can’t be knocked off the wall.
  • Repair any loosening of mounting hardware to prevent the plaque from detaching.
  • Refinish or touch up the plaque if the wood gets scratched or damaged.

With proper care and maintenance, a quality European mount can last a lifetime and beyond as an heirloom.

European Mounts in Hunting Culture

European mounts hold special significance as trophies in the hunting community. Beyond cost considerations, they represent accomplishment through fair chase and ethical harvest.

They display the unique features that may have made a special hunt challenging like antler points, mass, or width. Mounts allow hunters to relive the memories long after the hunt is over.

In many cultures, antlers and horns traditionally symbolize the strength, virility, and nobility of the animal. Euro mounts allow hunters to honor the animal by using as much of it as possible. By artfully preserving just the skull and antlers, less goes to waste.

Final Thoughts on European Mount Cost

While prices range widely, investing in a quality European mount is often money well spent to proudly display a special trophy. Finding an experienced taxidermist, even at a higher price point, ensures a piece you’ll treasure for a lifetime.

For budget hunters, doing some of the initial prep work yourself can reduce costs.

Regardless of price, a tasteful European mount serves as a meaningful memento of the hunt and provides a stunning and artistic way to appreciate the animal in your home or cabin. With proper care and maintenance, it will retain its beauty and value for generations to come.

So do your research, accept that quality work costs money, and get ready to enjoy your European mount as a conversation starter and heirloom-quality trophy. The memories it represents are truly priceless.

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