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Old 10-28-2008, 01:55 PM   #1
bowhuntertex
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Default Bleaching your own skulls.........

I am not going to get into the cleaning part of the skulls, because there are many ways. The three most popular are boiling, emancipation (letting it soak in water for several weeks, and the use of dermitide (flesh-eating)beetles which is my prefered method (because I have a colony). All three require the removal of the hide on the animals head before starting.

Here is a pic of the bugs starting in on a hog skull and finishing up a couple of deer skulls.



Use Dawn dishwashing soap to degrease the skulls in hot water. It may take 2-3 trys. Once the skulls have been degreased you are ready to bleach. For skulls without antlers alls you need is a plastic shoe box that is taller than the skull and 20% peroxide in the liquid form (not the paste) from the beauty supply store. Probably will need 2-3 gallons. Set the skull in the plastic container and then fill the container up past the top of the skull with the peroxide. This process can take anywhere from 2 days to a couple of weeks. Just make sure you check it everyday. Also, make sure you use plastic gloves when messing with the peroxide. Once it is as white as you would like, rinse of with a water house and let it sit outside and dry off.....

Here are some pics of a javi skull before it went into the peroxide.......



And a picture of a whitetail skull unbleached next to one bleached



And a pig soakin' in the peroxide. I like to use the smaller container for whitail skulls and the large container for skulls I can completely submerge......



The basic same steps apply for the deer skull, with a few exceptions. You need to wrap the horns with a plastic trash bag taping them off at the base of the horns so none of the peroxide can get on them. You will also need a gallon bottle of the highest peroxide paste you can get. I think it is either 30% or 40%. After degreasing, set the skull in the plastic container with the horns resting on the sides of the container. Add the 20% liquid peroxide to the container and allow it to fill up just under where the base of the horns are. If you go past that you will end up bleaching the horns. This is where the paste peroxide comes in handy along with a squirt bottle. Fill the squirt bottle up with the paste and then spray on any bone that is left exposed out of the liquid peroxide. I do this once a day until the skull is as bright white as I want it to be.

some finished products:
My drop tine from last year


My javi from my bachelor party


Bones Bobcat


Bones Bobcat and Hog


My 8 pointer mounted on Xspots plaque


My favorite Euro mount that I have done


I also recommend that when you are done bleaching and are not going to use the peroxide for a while to put it back in the gallon container for storage. This will help keep it from evaporating.

List of items needed:
1. plastic shoe box
2. 2-3 gallons of 20% liquid peroxide
3. 1 gallon of 30% or 40% paste peroxide
4. squirt bottle
5. Rubber/Vinyl gloves
6. Funnel (serves two purposes, 1. to get the paste peroxide into the squirt bottle and 2. to get the left over liquid peroxide back into the gallon jugs.)

Here is a picture of the peroxides that I use


I hope this helps those of you that want to save money an get the satisfaction of Doing It Yourself......Please PM if you have any questions.
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Old 10-28-2008, 02:07 PM   #2
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Works great!! I have done both sharks jaws, deer and pig skulls.
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Old 10-28-2008, 02:57 PM   #3
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You are the man...thanks Will!!!!!
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Old 10-28-2008, 02:58 PM   #4
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So just let the pig skull sit in 20% for a week or so and pull it out? No need to brush any of the 40% cream on it?
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Old 10-28-2008, 03:17 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fightinaggies View Post
So just let the pig skull sit in 20% for a week or so and pull it out? No need to brush any of the 40% cream on it?
As long as the whole skull is submerged you won't need to brush or spray any of the 40% cream on it. If the skull is too big, just flip it and submerge what didn't get bleached the first time.........
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Old 10-28-2008, 05:18 PM   #6
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Awesome Will , a lot easier than the way I do mine , where did you get the bugs . How much for a pair ( male & female ) LOL

Chad
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Old 10-28-2008, 09:25 PM   #7
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Just holler at me when you need a skull done............
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Old 10-28-2008, 09:54 PM   #8
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I also cheat a little and use white spray paint. You can't tell the differance. I then use clear coat.
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Old 10-28-2008, 09:56 PM   #9
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I can always tell when someone has painted a skull white. It almost looks fake close up....from a distance they do look good though.......
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Old 10-28-2008, 10:31 PM   #10
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[quote=bowhuntertex;998233]The three most popular are boiling, emancipation (letting it soak in water for several weeks, and the use of dermitide (flesh-eating)beetles




Emancipation?...Really???
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Old 10-28-2008, 10:51 PM   #11
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When degreasing, it helps to keep the water warm. I use fish tank heaters.

Also, the more you degrease the less effort it takes to whitene a skull.
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Old 10-28-2008, 10:52 PM   #12
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Not spraypaint - try white plastic primer from home depot, I have used this on some old skulls that were left outside for a period of time, tape off the teeth & horns, looks like real bone.
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Old 10-28-2008, 11:15 PM   #13
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Well done Will. Finished products look outstanding!
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Old 10-29-2008, 12:18 PM   #14
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[quote=Chance Love;999700]
Quote:
Originally Posted by bowhuntertex View Post
The three most popular are boiling, emancipation (letting it soak in water for several weeks, and the use of dermitide (flesh-eating)beetles




Emancipation?...Really???
Thanks for making fun of me Chance ......I had a major brain fart I guess.......the correct method is called Maceration and I found some good information on it's process as well on the web that may help some folks out on that method....

Quote:
Maceration is just one technique used for stripping meat from bone by bone and skull collectors. It is easily done by placing a skull in a bucket with enough water to cover and let it sit for several days. Variables to this method of cleaning skulls are -
Length of Time - the amount of time you leave it soaking.
Size of Skull - the bigger the skull, the more to remove, the longer it takes.
Temperature - outside temperature in which your operation is taking place.
Freezing weather does not help the process.
Smell Factor - a consideration for your neighbors.


The length of time you leave a skull in the water is dependent on the size of the skull and how hot the climate is - warmer weather tends to speed up the process a bit. Now if you are good at putting together pieces and love puzzles then time is not a problem. Your smaller skulls can turn into puzzles when all the flesh has soften and the water begins to loosen the paper-thin seams where the cranial bones are joined. Although this makes it easy to remove the brain rather than trying to pick it out through that tiny hole the need to reassemble itty-bitty pieces of bone is not something most skull enthusiasts look forward too.

To solve the time problem because there are so many variables, make sure you check on your skulls daily.

A helpful hint for ease of checking is to use bags. Use a mesh bag (pillow cases work too) with larger skulls placing them in the bag then into the container of water. For smaller skulls instead of a bucket use a gallon size resealable plastic bag in a bucket. Use enough water to thoroughly cover the skull. Remove almost all of the excess air leaving lots of extra space for the bag to expand. Remember that as the maceration is in full swing gases (nasty smelly gases) are let off and can explode a sealed bag. Check that bag daily and release excess gases from it to prevent any mishaps.

Once the flesh of your project falls away from the bone (with a small amount of swishing in the water) remove the skull from the water and rinse it well. Some species, such as deer, in some areas might carry unwanted bacteria/diseases you might want to do the safe thing and soak each finished skull in a bucket of bleach water (ratio 1 to 10 parts respectively) for a short period of time (an hour or so), then rinse them thoroughly. Don't forget to check for lost teeth at the bottom of the bucket (or bag) before dumping the original water or any other container you used to soak your skull. This is where the gloves come in very handy. Skulls look so much more professional with most or all of their teeth.

Here is a list of items that might be useful and handy to have before starting:
Skull(s) - roadkill is a good source for these.
Buckets - various sizes depending on the size of item to be macerated.
Elbow-length rubber gloves - for the big jobs.
Surgical gloves - for the small jobs.
Apron - personal choice but handy for splashes.
Tweezers - to get the little bits off that are left.
Vicks Vapor Rub - helps to put a dab on your upperlip to cover some of the smell.

Maceration is a couch potato's way of cleaning skulls and bones - the water does most of the work for you.
I found the above information at the following website:
http://everything2.com/e2node/Cleaning%2520skulls
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Old 10-29-2008, 12:26 PM   #15
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Good information - I've been wanting to do one myself. Thanks for posting.
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Old 10-29-2008, 12:30 PM   #16
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Thanks for the post, I was just asking about this earlier today, and I was going to post this very question.
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Old 10-29-2008, 12:43 PM   #17
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great information
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Old 10-29-2008, 12:44 PM   #18
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For a couple of years I just put a head on a fireant mound and it was clean in a couple of weeks. Last year my deer killed or moved 3 mounds and now I have a head with year old skin on it. How is the best way to remove it now?
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Old 10-29-2008, 01:02 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by huntmaster View Post
For a couple of years I just put a head on a fireant mound and it was clean in a couple of weeks. Last year my deer killed or moved 3 mounds and now I have a head with year old skin on it. How is the best way to remove it now?
Maceration would probably be your best bet now.........Just let it soak for a week or two in water........
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Old 12-10-2008, 09:58 PM   #20
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Awesome thread, Will!
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Old 12-10-2008, 09:58 PM   #21
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Will I need to get you my Muley head for you to macerate it.
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Old 12-11-2008, 10:38 AM   #22
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Good idea will. Gonna get it done asap one of my deer and my ram. Whats up with the plaques? Pm me and let me know.
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Old 12-11-2008, 02:25 PM   #23
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When macerating a deer head, if its a buck, do you sumerge everything (antlers included) in the water?

Would it be easier to purchase a colony of beetles? I've tried boiling, and quite frankly, I ruined an axis mount

Last edited by yakin ag; 12-11-2008 at 02:39 PM..
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Old 12-12-2008, 10:12 PM   #24
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Bleaching your own skulls is not hard, just takes a little time.
1. First you must have a pot big enough for your skull.
2. Add one box of baking soda to your water, this brings down the boiling point of water.
3. Bring water to a boil, then bring it down to a simmer, where water is barely turning, you don't actually boil the skull if you do you damage the skull.
4. Simmer the skull 4 to 6 hrs, depending on the size.
5. It is improtant that you let the pot with the skull cool down before taking out the skull. If you pull skull out hot, it will likely crack.
6. Gently remove meat, ligaments and what ever else remains on the skull, rinse with clean water when done.
7. Once all has been removed, you now need to degrease skull.
8. Buy some Dawn dishwashing liquid, along with some house hold amonia.
9. Place the skull in a big enough container, add the dishwashing liquid the more the merrier, add the amonia, about 4 quarts, the amonia will remove most of the bad smell and help the degreasing process.
10. Let the skull degrease for a week, when the solution looks like gravy, remove and repeat process for another week, degreasing is complete when there are no more yellow spots on skull.
11. Once skull has been degreased you can start the whitening process.
12. Purchase cream peroxide and quick white (white hair dye) from a beauty salon.
13. Mix about 1.5 scoops of quick white and 1 cup cream peroxide, mixture verys, mix together and apply with a brush to skull. This will whiten skull, once dry it will look like dried baking powder, repeat to desired whiteness.
14. Bleaching done.
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Old 12-12-2008, 10:21 PM   #25
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Euro mounts are my favorite. I've done euros on several animals I've killed, but I prefer to leave the skulls a natural color. I clean and degrease them, but I stop there. Just a personal preference, your mounts look awesome!
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Old 12-16-2008, 02:27 PM   #26
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Great advice - much appreciated! I have a friend who uses a power washer to get the flesh off the skull, and then he boils it in water to get the brain matter out.
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Old 12-30-2008, 03:46 PM   #27
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Default Takeing off the meat by boiling

If I take off the meat by boiling the skull of a buck, does it matter if the horns are in the boiling water? Thanks.
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Old 12-30-2008, 07:44 PM   #28
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don't boil it as it will make the bones brittle.....keep the water to a simmer and it will not hurt the horns, just don't let them touch the side of the pot. It could actually burn the horn. Use a rag or something like that to protect the horn where it may rest or touch the pot......
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Old 12-30-2008, 09:31 PM   #29
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great info thanks
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Old 12-31-2008, 03:02 PM   #30
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Thanks - have a Corsican head in the freezer I need to get done.
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Old 12-31-2008, 03:12 PM   #31
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One piece of advise keep the antlers out of the water.

When boiling/simmering the grease or oil's from the meat can saturate into the antlers. Usually is only noticeable when doing many heads in the same pot. If you keep your water clean it shouldn't be a problem
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Old 01-03-2009, 12:52 AM   #32
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Default Degreasing

Can you submerge some of the antlers in the degreasing solution without harm to the antlers?
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Old 01-03-2009, 11:03 AM   #33
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Thanks for the info
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Old 01-03-2009, 11:28 AM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cshunter View Post
Can you submerge some of the antlers in the degreasing solution without harm to the antlers?

It may sometimes lighten the antler, but that is easily fixed with some antler stain.....
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Old 01-03-2009, 12:58 PM   #35
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Where can I find a good antler stain? I have been meaning to find some for a previous skull mount I made which I accidentally bleached the base of the horns.
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Old 01-03-2009, 01:34 PM   #36
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either at Van dykes taxidermy or WASCO......they both carry a stain. I have also used old english with some success in the past.......
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Old 01-03-2009, 11:51 PM   #37
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where do you get those beetles? And why do you like the beetle method the best?
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Old 01-04-2009, 12:17 AM   #38
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there are several places to order the beetles from. Skull Works is a good place to order from. Beetles clean a skull better than any other method and they don't in anyway harm the bone. With a colony working properly you can clean a deer skull in less than 48 hours. I also like them, because I don't have to hang around while the skull simmers all day......
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Old 08-19-2009, 10:11 AM   #39
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What kind of temperature/habitat is required to keep a beetle colony? Can it be just room temperature? I'm sure too much heat could be an issue, correct? I don't think the wife would be too happy if I wanted to start a colony here inside the house.......so it'd have to be the shed or mayyyybe the garage.

Greg
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Old 08-19-2009, 10:54 AM   #40
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Checkout taxidermy.net they have all the answers
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Old 08-19-2009, 04:23 PM   #41
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Nice Work!

LWR2
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Old 08-25-2009, 04:36 PM   #42
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I've done several but never use the peroxide . Thanks on where to get the 30 to 40 % .
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Old 08-25-2009, 04:50 PM   #43
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"You need to wrap the horns with a plastic trash bag taping them off at the base of the horns so none of the peroxide can get on them."

Or - you can cover (smear it all over) the horns with Vaseline - this will keep the the peroxide from penetrating - then when your completely done, just wipe it off with a towel - I've done 6 or 7 like this and it works great.
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Old 08-25-2009, 07:40 PM   #44
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may have to give the vaseline trick a try.....sure would be easier than using plastic bags......
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Old 09-04-2009, 02:03 PM   #45
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Nice work. Thanks for all of the good information.
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Old 09-08-2009, 03:10 PM   #46
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I've done some by boiling but how do you keep the teeth from fallling out?
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Old 09-13-2009, 04:53 PM   #47
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You won't keep the teeth from falling out, just make sure you strain the water as you pour it out........
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Old 09-16-2009, 04:43 PM   #48
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dude those are really white
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Old 09-28-2009, 01:37 AM   #49
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Here's my 2009 NM Elk Taken September 16th. I just finished it up using one of the methods above (no beetles). Still need to find the whitener, but it cleaned up great without it. Just need to polish/bleach the teeth.

Great post. Wish I would have found it before I started this one.









Dave
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Old 10-07-2009, 01:30 PM   #50
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Those are very clean! I am bleaching all my mounts this yr! thanks
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