Creating a Deer Mineral Lick | Not Just for Bucks
It seems you can walk into just about any store selling outdoor products or farm equipment and find some sort of new-aged deer attractant and minerals that are designed to grow big bucks fast. How whitetails utilize there minerals is wildly misinterpreted and can quickly lead to unsatisfactory results due to unreasonable expectations. This is why it is important to understand what these minerals actually do, and the proper ways to implement them into your management.
All minerals are not created equal. A beneficial deer mineral product will provide the trace reserves that are useful to the whole herd. Deer are hoofed creatures, but that doesn’t mean that any mineral that works for a cattle ranch or horses will do the same for whitetails. Antlers are comprised of roughly 20 percent calcium and 10 percent phosphorus. The product you choose needs to have calcium and phosphorus, in as large of quantity as possible. Most minerals specifically made for cattle leave much to be desired from a whitetail’s stand point. These products, typically in a block form, are comprised more of salt than anything else. Whitetails, especially bucks, need sodium during the spring and summer. This is why deer will commonly visit and use pure salt licks during a select few months, but they do not provide the overall benefits that a whitetail-specific mineral will. Another misconception is the period throughout the year when deer will utilize deer mineral sites. While they are typically established during the spring and summer, whitetails will use them year around.
It is important to be realistic when creating a deer mineral site. Don’t expect to pour out deer minerals and watch an average size buck on your property to suddenly sprout a 150-inch set of antlers. To see an increase in a buck’s antlers and body size, you must manage their age, nutrition, and genetics. We have no control over the genetics but the other two facets we can easily manipulate. The greatest way to produce a buck with a massive body and an impressive set of antlers is to provide them with everything they need nutritionally, and let them mature. A mature buck will experience a mineral drain during the spring and summer months when antlers are growing and depleting their reserves. This is why they will visit established deer mineral sites regularly. Antler-less deer will also use the sites when lactating. While most land managers think of large antlers when talking about minerals, the truth is that antler-less deer will use the sites just as much. Also, fawns and yearlings also find a well-established mineral site to be beneficial to their growth and development. Be sure to set up a trail camera nearby when creating a mineral site, this is a great place to collect an inventory of your herd.
Choosing a Product
When it comes to choosing a deer mineral for your property, there are a few things to keep in mind. There are primarily three forms to mineral to choose from. Liquid, granular, and block/brick. Many landowners, especially if located in areas with high rainfall most will use a block mineral form. These blocks take longer for the minerals to seep into the soils, but seem to last much longer than other types, especially during times of high precipitation. Other types include a granular form that can be mixed in the soils immediately. Some products need to be mixed with water and some can be poured straight into the soils out of the bag. This depends on the individual brand. When using a granular that needs to be mixed with water, use non-chlorinated distiller water and mix while in the field. Avoid mixing the minerals together at home or in camp, and do so at the soon-to-be deer mineral site. The last type is a liquid form and this type quicker and easier than other types to establish and also immediately seep into the soils. These are also useful to put onto stumps and logs, as well as refreshing pre-existing sites. These minerals seem to have a much shorter life span, but are still great at attracting wildlife and providing much needed trace elements.
When creating deer mineral sites, the most common technique is to use a granular type, soon to be followed by placing a brick or block mineral out in the same place. This will last through summer storms and heavy usage during the summer months. Then during late summer and early fall, the same site can be refreshed with liquid. Luckily, the majority of companies that produce minerals offer their products in all three forms so you can experiment with what works best and the best ways to create and maintain your sites. Every site is different, therefore what works on one property may differ on other property.
Minerals like Big and J Attractants are only a portion of your management and the results will not provide instant results in the form of trophy deer. However, you will benefit the health and build a great inventory of your deer herd by using the right minerals.
Choosing a Location
The last step in the process is deciding on where a deer mineral site should be established. Just as determining what form of mineral product to use is important, so is knowing where the most ideal locations to establish the site are. When scouring the land in search of deer mineral sites, you should look for areas of high usage, such as deer trails, funnels, or active edges, where two habitat types meet. These aforementioned areas already experience high deer usage, making it easier to for the deer to locate the site, and most of all, feel secure. Be sure to place the minerals out nearby a deer trail, but not directly on top of the path itself. With the exception of checking game cameras, which are great to have situated over these sites, try to avoid disturbing these areas if at all possible. In order to maximize the daytime usage of these sites, limiting human disturbances is crucial.
Lastly, there are many different ways to create a deer mineral site. Many times the leaf litter needs to be removed along with a few inches of topsoil. The implementation process varies from product to product so be sure to read the instructions carefully. Hand tools such as a rake, shovel, or a hoe can be used to initially break up the soil and create a site.
Establishing mineral sites are arguably the easiest and most inexpensive ways to provide the deer on your property something beneficial to all members of the herd. Now is the time to establish mineral sites on your property, so don’t miss out and get started. You will be glad you did!