Establishing Mineral Sites | What You Should Know
This is the time of year when most hunters are starting to see an increase in deer activity on their properties. To top it off, whitetail bucks will grow more inches of antler during July and August than any other time of year. One of the best ways to track the deer activity on your property is through the use of trail cameras and mineral sites. With so much palatable forages around, it can be tough to nail down what deer are feeding on. Luckily, a well-established mineral site will attract many deer and allow easy setup options for your trail camera. Minerals are used heavily by antlerless deer during the late winter and early spring while pregnant and nursing, and also by bucks during the summer months.
The best time to establish a mineral site was last year. That being said, it’s never too late to create one on your property. There are multiple types of minerals available and many hunters and land managers make the mistake of thinking a salt lick or mineral block from the local farm feed store will suffice. This is not true. A whitetail’s antlers are approximately 20 percent calcium and 10 percent phosphorus. For this reason, any mineral you choose to use, whether it be liquid, granular, or block form, needs to have as much calcium and phosphorus as possible. As it turns out, cattle blocks from farm stores are comprised more of salt than anything else. Now you are probably thinking that you have used pure salt cattle licks before and they worked well. I agree, I have too. However, I did notice that each cattle block experienced high activity followed by a sharp drop off in activity. This happened around the same time on each salt block site. I later learned that whitetails desire sodium at select times during the year, which is where these salt blocks came into play. So these sites worked well from that standpoint, but they failed miserably at keeping a steady amount deer traffic in front of my cameras throughout the summer on my hunting grounds. I also happened to be testing out other minerals that were specifically designed for whitetails. These sites experienced a steady flow of deer activity. Furthermore, they experienced an increase in activity when the pure salt block sites went cold.
A salt or a cattle block simply will not provide the benefits that a mineral specifically made for whitetails will. A cattle block may be cheaper by a few dollars, but in the end you will be glad you chose a product designed for whitetails for a year around mineral site. Not only will this assist you in getting more photos of your deer herd, you will also be doing the deer on your property a service by providing them with the trace minerals essential for bone and antler growth.