Tricks to prevent horn shrinkage

madtom

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The field judging thread made me wonder what folks who've shot large antelope have done to minimize the amount of shrinking the horns do before official scoring. I wondered if putting the head in the freezer for the 60 days would make the horns dry out less and thus perhaps retain more mass. Never shot one big enough to worry about the score, but curious what techniques others have used since antelope seem to shrink more in the 60 days than any antlered game.
 

Carl 9.3x62

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The field judging thread made me wonder what folks who've shot large antelope have done to minimize the amount of shrinking the horns do before official scoring. I wondered if putting the head in the freezer for the 60 days would make the horns dry out less and thus perhaps retain more mass. Never shot one big enough to worry about the score, but curious what techniques others have used since antelope seem to shrink more in the 60 days than any antlered game.
An official B&C scorer here in Laramie told me to remove the horn sheaths and fill them with plaster of paris, and then replace them on the bone. He said it really helps to prevent shrinkage. But now that I think about it, I can't remember if that was before or after the 60 day drying period.
 

wytex

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We usually just seal the horns with Skidmore's wood finish. It has beeswax and oils that helps them not dry out and gives them back that nice black color.
Let's see if Eli will chime in.
I would think a frost free freezer would really dry them out.
 

406LIFE

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If you use bondo or plaster to prevent shrinkage, it would have to be submitted to the Records Department of B&C for inspection to see if it inflates the score. They would be looking for swelling, bumps, and the like on the sheaths to see if they dried uneven.

As a measurer, my advice would not be to do it. I don't think the shrinkage is that much to worry about.
 

madtom

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Why would someone need "tricks" to minimize shrinkage if not worried about the score?
Just curious. If I ever did shoot a biggin, it'd be a bummer to not do something simple that would help it shrink less. That's all.
 

madtom

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Well this isn't where I thought this thread was going. I was hoping for some advice on the home front that didn't require surgical procedures or prescription meds from Asia.
My initial thread title was "Tips to prevent shrinkage". Then I decided I should put "horn" in there. Honestly, all advice is welcome here.
 

Carl 9.3x62

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Back to antelope horns...I would say if nothing else remove the sheaths and clean them up and the skull, and if you have it scored, score it as soon as possible. I had one scored for my brother maybe 4 or 5 years after he killed it, and that we never removed the horns sheaths from. The B&C measurer pointed out where the bases had noticably shrunk and said had I taken care of it properly and had it scored right after the 60 day drying period, it would probably have scored 2-3 points higher. As it was, it barely made book at 82 1/8.
 

Greenhorn

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Back to antelope horns...I would say if nothing else remove the sheaths and clean them up and the skull, and if you have it scored, score it as soon as possible. I had one scored for my brother maybe 4 or 5 years after he killed it, and that we never removed the horns sheaths from. The B&C measurer pointed out where the bases had noticably shrunk and said had I taken care of it properly and had it scored right after the 60 day drying period, it would probably have scored 2-3 points higher. As it was, it barely made book at 82 1/8.
Can you dig up and share a photo of that buck? Sounds like a whopper.
 

JM77

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Here is the best way to minimize shrinking of antelope horns: asap after skinning, wrap skull plate or cleaned off skull in plastic up 3 or 4 inches on horn. I use masking tape on plastic to get tight seal especially around horns. Leave in warm area for two or three days and horns will slip off cores. Immediately clean skull plate or skull and reset horns with slow set mix of bondo. If you want them measured, this is where the 60 day drying period begins. I wipe the horns down Neet's Foot Oil to help preserve them and make them look good. I don't know, or care, if B&C allows that, as record books are meaningless to me. If you are having it scored, just eliminate the Neet's until after they are measured.

Boiling off horns is the worse thing you can do to them if you are concerned about shrinkage.
 
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