Mice! Chipmunks! Rats! They are the curse of anyone who has decided to make their living anywhere on the planet, except maybe Antarctica, and they will probably be there too soon enough. They are perfectly designed to get into everything, whether you like it or not, just like children. If your home is made of logs, cement, stone or of more modern construction design, probably including a spacecraft, there are going to be pests getting inside at some point. Once inside, they eat unbelievable portions, make irritating noises and soil the area. This is especially a problem when stores of grains are stockpiled and then left untended for the majority of the time. Everybody gets angry when they discover mouse droppings in their cupboards, too. In places less frequently inhabited, damage done by hungry vermin can be especially bad, especially for the self-sufficient. Unlike unruly children, however, it is perfectly acceptable to give these unwelcome guests the boot—or in this case the bucket.

I came across this ingenious solution to vermin thievery when I was going through guide school in Wyoming. The best part of the trap is that everything is readily available, cheap and uses no pesticides, poisons or chemicals. Depending on how much trouble the vermin have caused, they can be taken dead or alive. Don’t have a 5-gallon bucket? Use a smaller container and downsize the materials appropriately as needed.

Trap Building

The first step is to get a plastic bucket, an empty aluminum beer or soda can, a section of wire (ideally from a coat hanger) and a scoop of peanut butter or some other sticky food. Next you must drill or bore two holes close to the top of the bucket that are just a little larger than the diameter of the wire. Make a hole in both ends of the can so that the wire runs through both ends and freely spins around the wire. Insert the wire through the bucket and can. Make sure to bend one end of the wire against the bucket to secure it.

Bait & Wait

To bait the trap, smear peanut butter or other sticky bait on the can so that the bait stays aligned on the upper side of the can. You don’t need much bait usually, either. To complete the trap, give the vermin a highway upward to the top of the bucket. If desired, a few inches of water on the bottom of the bucket can send the pests to Davy Jones’ Locker, or they can be captured alive by leaving the bucket dry at the trapper’s discretion.

Crazy as it sounds, this trap can be made faster yet with the omission of the can and wire. Keep the ramp up to the rim of the bucket and then smear peanut butter inside the rim, down 3 or so inches from the top. When the mice go for the bait, in they go. Pest removal doesn’t get much easier!       

This article originally published in AMERICAN FRONTIERSMAN® 2014-#158 issue. Print and Digital Editions to AMERICAN FRONTIERSMAN® magazine are available here

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