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North Platte couple use beetles to clean animal skulls for mounting

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Beetles clean animal skulls for mounting

Jordan and Amanda Beebout pose with some of the European mounts, also known as skull mounts, done with their unique process. Their business, Beebout’s Beetles, uses dermestid beetles that eat the flesh off the skulls for a clean and unique mount.

NORTH PLATTE — Hunters take pride in the animals they harvest, and putting them on display is something many folks like to do.

However, some methods are quite expensive and the process is long for a full mount. Jordan and Amanda Beebout of North Platte have found a unique method that produces what is called a European mount, also known as a skull mount.

The process uses dermestid beetles, which eat the leftover meat off the skull of the animal. Dermestid beetles are a specialized species of beetle that eats only animal flesh. They are not harmful to humans.

“Amanda’s dad has always taken (his animal heads) to a guy who used the dermestid beetles,” Jordan said.

“Now that I live (in Nebraska), it’s kind of hard to go back to Colorado all the time to get it done,” Amanda said. “So my dad’s, like, maybe you guys should just do it yourself.”

There are multiple ways of processing skulls for European mounts, including a boiling process, but the Beebouts liked the results of using the beetles.

“We receive the head from the customer and we store them and skin them,” Jordan said. “We keep them in the deep freeze until we’re ready to work on them.”

Amanda said putting them in the freezer keeps the flies, bugs and smell down and kills bacteria. Freezing also protects the beetles because they are sensitive to diseases.

The first step is preparing the head, which includes a lot of knife work to remove the meat.

“You try to get the head pretty clean and from there you just leave it to the beetles,” he said.

The Beebouts currently have two colonies of beetles they purchased from a supplier in Alaska, who also uses the same process.

“We talked to a few people about this process,” Jordan said, “and one guy’s been doing this in Montana since the 1980s.”

Once the beetles have done their work, the heads go into degreasing tanks.

“When everything comes off, the heads get oily,” Amanda said. “We soak all that out so the skull can be crisp and white.”

Jordan said the degreasing process takes 4-6 weeks depending on the animal.

“Some species have more oil than others,” Amanda said.

“We had a heck of a time with an antelope, it wouldn’t let oil go,” Jordan said. “It seems like the older the deer is, the harder it is because they’re greasier.”

The overall process takes 6-8 weeks from skinning to bleaching.

Last season, the Beebouts mainly did mule deer and whitetail deer, as well as one antelope.

“This year we’ve got four elk as well as the deer we do,” Jordan said. “We’ve also done a beaver, a turkey and a goose and I’d like to do a coyote, raccoon, everything.”

Beebouts Beetles charges $100 for a skinned deer and antelope head and different prices for other species. There is an additional charge if they have to skin the head.

Regular taxidermy mounts cost from $750 on up, Jordan said. Amanda had an elk mounted and said it cost $1,200.

Amanda and Jordan have been avid hunters and enjoy many aspects of the outdoors. Their business is an outgrowth of their shared interest in hunting and fishing and the outdoors, they said.

The Beebouts can be reached at 308-530-9417 or on Facebook@Beebout’s Beetles.

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