European Duck Mount

| January 19, 2020
mallard duck euro mount
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

You are probably here, because you want to know how to European mount a duck head. Fortunately, European mounts are an easy and attractive way to preserve just about any animal species. Here’s how I made a European mount out of a Mallard drake skull.

Because of the fragile and small nature of a bird skull, they are actually more work to clean than a larger skull, but the cleaning, boiling, and bleaching method is the exact same.

Step 1: Cleaning

Remove as much muscle and tissue.

Step 2: Boiling and Cleaning

Add dish soap, borax, and a splash of laundry detergent to a pot of water, and gently boil the skull in the mixture. After boiling for a while, use your judgement, remove any additional loosened tissue, like brain, or connective tissue, replace water with clean water and more dish soap, borax, and laundry detergent, and continue to boil. Repeat step 2 as many times as it take to remove all tissue.

Step 3: Bleaching

Do a last boil with soap, but also add hydrogen peroxide. If the skull is properly cleaned at this point, you don’t need very much hydrogen peroxide to get a nice white skull. Bleaching also helps kill any bacteria that would cause any hidden or unseen tissue from rotting later. Although this step can be done with bleach, as the name of the step implies, bleach will make bones chalky, and weak.

An alternative method to boiling in a bleaching agent is to use Salon Care 40 Volume Creme Developer. After cleaning and boiling out grease and oils, the developer creme can be brushed all over the clean dry skull, and place in a sandwich bag. A small bird skull may not need more than a few minutes, so after about 5 minutes rinse the skull in hot water, and let dry. If its not white enough, repeat the process.

Step 4: Let Dry

The simplest step, let dry. I let dry in direct sunlight, as this seems to help whiten the skull to a more bright white. Make sure no critters steal your mount at this stage.

Step 5: Sealing(Optional)

I don’t ever seal my euro mounts; I’ve never found a need. However, some people will clear coat, lacquer, or even paint their skulls. To each their own.

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Bagged a Mallard Drake

| January 11, 2020
mallard drake
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

Bagged a Mallard Drake. While its not a big deal to a lot of waterfowl hunters who do it all the time, I’ve never made much of an effort to hunt migratory birds before. I’ve spent a few good days scouting, 6 mornings and one evening setting up, hours observing and learning about weather influence, proper decoy placement, and passed on a lot of diver ducks, waiting for a Mallard, Teal, other dabbling duck, or a goose.

After an unsuccessful morning hunt, and a solid day of working, I returned to the field for an evening hunt. I set up my mallard decoys just right for the wind conditions. A lone Mallard spotted the landing zone of my decoys, dropped in like a cruise missile, then flared to land. I took my shot and folded him right at the edge of some frozen ice.

I was rewarded for my patience(something I have very little of) and my persistence. I had bagged my target bird, a Mallard Drake, and no longer felt bad about passing on a bunch of diver ducks.

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Decoy Basics

| January 1, 2020
Waterfowl Decoy Basics
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.


You can decoy, jump shoot, or set up in a spot to shoot pass over ducks on approach to or take off from water holes, but if you are going to decoy its important to know some decoy basics. I’ll briefly touch on quantity, species, sizes, types, materials, and rigging.

Decoy Quantity

Well equipped waterfowlers may deploy hundreds of decoys. However, for the waterfowler just starting out, or on a tighter budget, its reasonable to start with as little as one dozen. The more the merrier, but don’t be discouraged if you have to start out small.

Decoy Species

You can’t expect to have a few dozen of every duck or goose species on day 1 of your waterfowl hunting career. Fortunately, Mallard decoys also draw Gadwalls, Pintails, Teal, Widgeons and other dabbling or ‘puddle’ ducks. Setting out a spread of Mallards, and nothing else is an easy way to attract a few species, not just Mallards.

Decoy Sizes

Decoys are available in a range of sizes from 3/4, Standard, to Full Size, Magnum, Super Magnum, and Battleship, or other extra large sizes and brand specific variants all over. It’s not the size of the decoy, its how you use it! This is actually only mostly true with decoys. Size sometimes matter. The purpose of a decoy spread of course is to attract birds. So in small spaces that you know there are birds, small decoys are easily visible. In large and open spaces, although all decoy sizes can work, larger ones will be seen at a greater distance, giving an edge to a decoy spread set far away from bird traffic with bigger decoys.

Decoy Types

Some decoys are meant for ponds, others for dry fields or flooded fields. As such they come in a variety of types from Full Body, to Profile, Floaters, Shells, and Wind Socks. For a pond or open water, you’ll need floaters, in shallow water, banks, or areas both wet and dry, a variety of decoys can be used.

  • Full Body decoys are often staked, to look like a standing bird on dry or mostly dry ground.
  • Shells are exactly what they sound like, usually only showing the top half of a body, and set out on the ground.
  • Profiles AKA 2D or Silhouette decoys, are flat profiles of birds meant to stake into the ground, and don’t take much space. However, like anything 2D, they are not visible from a perpendicular angle, and require a strategic placement, to attract nearby birds.
  • Wind Socks, are a hollow ‘full body soft shell’ meant to stake into the ground. They are similar in effect to full body shells, but can be packed up to take less room.
  • Floaters are the normal start for any kind of pond or over water shooting, and although I’ve covered a variety of decoys types and uses, chasing after puddle or dabbling ducks is a minor focus of this article. With that said, floaters float. Modern floating decoys differ mostly in material, whether they are foam filled or hollow, and whether they have a weighted keel, or the keel fills with water to keep them positioned upright.

Decoy Materials

Modern floaters are usually hollow plastic, are fairly lightweight and tough, but can be somewhat expensive. Aged or damaged hollow plastic decoys can leak, and fail to float. Some decoys are filled with foam, so that they won’t fail to float. Other Plastics, Urethanes, Wood, and fabrics are used for decoys. Some DIY profiles are nothing more than yard signs.

Decoy Rigging and Weights

Rigging can make managing of decoys a nightmare or a breeze. Tangles can ruin your day, and a low quality or poorly rigged setup might not keep your decoy spread where you’d like. I mostly hunt shallow waters, and a 36″ or 48″ Texas rig works great. A 12 pack of Texas-Rig weights starts out around 30 dollars, adding to your startup costs but eliminates the hassle of buying bulk amounts of equipment and tools to rig your own. Its well worth the investment, for hassle free and tangle free decoy management.

Hard Core 36 inch Texas-Rig with 4oz. Weights
Hard Core Brands Mallard Dscoys (12 Pack)
Higdon Outdoors Standard Mallard Decoys (6 Pack)
AvianX Top Flight Duck Back Water Mallard Decoy (6 Pack)

What are we talking about here? has a great resource for identifying migratory bird species.

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