Here are 6 simple tips to keep your supplement stash free of rodents.
You did it. You bought into the idea that supplementing the nutrition of the deer near your hunting property might get you healthier, bigger deer. First off, congratulations. I believe you’ve made the right decision. For those hunters lucky enough to have their own property or leased ground to hunt, supplementing the nutrition of the herd can pay major dividends. Even for public land hunters that are willing to take a bit of a gamble providing supplements for an animal that may be taken by someone else, the rewards of investing in supplemental nutrition for the deer near your secret spot may greatly outweigh the risk.
Now that you’ve bit the bullet and decided to consider supplements for your deer herd, the first step is to do your research. There are hundreds of products on the market using shiny packaging and celebrity endorsements in an effort to sway your decision. Before investing in any products, do yourself a favor and do some research into what different types of nutritional supplements are available. Some are incredibly high in salt content, and while they may be decent attractants, if overall herd health is what you’re looking for, you’re likely wasting a lot of your time and money.
Others may tout high volumes of protein or calcium, but those nutrients alone won’t come close to developing your deer to their full potential. Look for a product that will benefit the entire herd, not just promise larger antlers on bucks. Overall herd health should be the primary goal of any supplemental nutrition program. Healthier does will reproduce easier, and they’ll give birth to healthier fawns. Healthier fawns eventually lead to healthier bucks. Sound nutrition for the entire herd will allow for your bucks to reach their highest potential, both in general health and in terms of their rack size.
Step two of the process is to protect your new investment. The last thing you want is to waste your wisely spent money and the time you spent researching by letting pests and elements get access to the product before you have a chance to get it out to your herd. Even in a barn, shop, or covered garage, the idea of placing a food source near the ground will be considered an open invitation for mice and other rodents, not to mention moisture.
A few common techniques can be used as a great start towards protecting the supplements you haven’t yet had a chance to put out for your herd. Start with elevation. If you’ve got a shelf big enough to store a few products, that’s going to be your best bet. However, if you’re like me, you order enough supplements at one time to cover your needs for a good portion of the year and save on shipping costs. When purchasing a large amount of product, shelving not be a realistic solution. In that case, consider starting with a wooden pallet. A sturdy, smooth pallet will be enough to keep your bags and blocks away from any unexpected moisture on the floor or ground of your storage area.
As for the rodents, many start with trusty old mouse traps. This tried and true method can be a legitimate form of rodent control if your mouse population is low. If you’re willing to check and reset traps frequently, a regular or old mouse trap might be ticket. For those of you looking for a more low maintenance method or those who have the potential for a higher population, on a farm for example, this method may be time labor intensive, time consuming, and even slightly expensive.
And then there’s cats. What can we say about cats? If they’re good mouse hunters, cats are probably the most effective form of rodent control available. But like traditional traps, there can be a downside to cats as well. It should come as no surprise that cats need food. And if you’re planning to control rodents on an acreage or farm setting, you’ll probably need more than a couple of them to keep up with the job requirements. Feeding cats year round isn’t exactly free, even if you feed them table scraps like we do. You’ll also need to consider shelter. Up here in the north country, this means providing a heated and insulated shelter, much like a dog house, in order to give your feline friends a decent chance at surviving the long, blustery winters. Though they serve their purpose, cats may not be a viable option for you.
So then what? The following is a list of simple hacks and tips that might be your solution to rodent control.
6 Simple, Cheap Tactics to Consider
1. Dryer sheets: you read that correctly. Steal a few dryer sheets from the cabinet in your laundry room and stuff a few of them in cracks and near the lowest access points on your pallet. Dryer sheets have a smell and a texture that make for simple and effective deterrent for rodents. The best part, you’re likely to have a few on hand right now.
2. Speaking of smell, try peppermint oil: mice hate the smell of mint. Grab a few cotton balls and some peppermint oil next time you’re at the grocery store. Soak the cotton balls in the oil and place them sporadically on and around your supplement stash. Peppermint oil can be found at many grocery and general stores, but some of you might already have some in your home.
Many people have recently gotten into the essential oils trend stocking up on various oils for home remedies of simple illnesses. Peppermint oil is a common ingredient used to treat headaches, among other things, and many of you reading this may have some in your home or know someone with quick access to a small bottle of peppermint oil.
3. PVC poison tubes: I must admit this idea (as well as #4) comes from a colleague that also keeps a large amount of supplement products on hand. Find a small PVC tube, around 1 1/2″ in diameter. Cut the tube into sections about two feet in length. Put a small amount of a high quality rodent poison in the tube and work the poison towards the middle of the tube.
Place these around and underneath your storage pallet. The tube is an effective way to keep small pets and children away from the poison. It’s also an inviting place for the rodents to hide and chow down. Check the tubes every few days at first to restock the poison, and empty any victims.
4. Soap: yep, that simple. Take a few bargain store bars of soap with a mint scent and set them around and underneath your supplements as described in the PVC tube section above. Similar to the dryer sheets and cotton swabs, the scent contained in the bars of soap may be enough to keep mice at bay.
5. Pet hair: okay, so this one may be a bit out there, but it also may be one of the most effective. Brush your best friend, Fido, and collect the hair. Place the hair on, around, and in every nook and cranny near your supplement stash.
If you’re lucky enough to have a bagless vacuum and a dog that stays in the house, empty the vacuum collection into a small bag. Remove the pet hair from the bag and place it near your supplements. As a natural defense mechanism, mice and other rodents will avoid areas where they feel predators or larger animals may be near or actively present.
6. Ashes: if you have a fire pit or an area where you burn trash, take some of the cool ashes and sprinkle them near the base of the pallet. Again, due to the texture and smoky smell, mice will naturally avoid areas near the ashes. This tactic may be the messiest of all the options, but has been proven to work if you don’t mind the extra hassle.
You’ve made a big investment in the health of your deer herd and hopefully the future wall decorations of your man cave. Be sure you take the necessary steps to protect it. Try to keep bags sealed until you’ll need them. Use a full bag after opening or incorporate other sealable storage if possible to avoid easy access for rodents with open packages. Also, don’t forget that each state has different rules and regulations regarding the use of mineral supplements. Be sure to check with your local state regulations before throwing that protein block on public lands or directly underneath your tree stand.