I have a love-hate relationship with deer. I love them, yet don’t like what they do to my garden or the church flowerbeds that I maintain. I’m also a deer hunter because I like the meat but won’t hunt them near home. So despite being a gardener, I like having them around. For this reason, I make my own salt-lick blocks for the deer.
Deer eat grass, forbs, leaves, branches, and almost anything growing in a garden or flowerbed, particularly if they are hungry. However, the foods they eat are usually lacking in many of the nutrients that they need for health, such as sodium. They are also fond of salt and lick at it like livestock will. This is why they are often seen standing in roadways, licking the pavement. They are licking up minerals.
This means that salt blocks are often loved by the deer and they help the deer keep healthy.
Ingredients for a homemade deer salt block
- 8 pounds rock salt
- 1 pound sugar
- eggshells, rinsed, air dried and finely crushed or powdered
- Hot water
- A mold for the salt block, preferably metallic to withstand heat
Mixing and making the salt block
1. Coat the inside of the mold with a fine coat of vegetable oil or even Pam spray, to allow for the easy removal of the salt block.
2. Mix up the salt, sugar, and eggshells in a non-reactive pot, such as stainless steel. Add just enough hot water, while stirring, to dissolve the salt and sugar.
3. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it reaches a firm ball stage; about 245 F.
4. Immediately pour the salt and sugar mixture into the mold and allow it to cool, then invert the mold to remove the salt block.
This can then be placed near a deer trail or area where the deer frequent.
NOTE: Be sure to check the laws in your area before putting out a salt block. It isn’t legal in all places to put salt blocks out for the deer. In some areas, this is considered “baiting”.
The salt blocks are enjoyed by the deer and the inclusion of the eggshells adds calcium that is needed to keep the deer healthy. This is especially important for bucks that are forming antlers and does that are pregnant. Incidentally, if the molds are much smaller, this recipe can also be used to make salt blocks for rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, squirrels, and so forth.