Have you given enough thought to mineral licks?
With all the talk about food plots and Q.D.M.A. (Quality Deer Management Association) there is not enough discussion of whitetail deer mineral licks !
After all a mineral lick can be placed in various locations on your property without plows or any other equipment except maybe a rake and shovel, and the benefits of having a great mineral site on your property can be tremendous! .
Why mineral sites are so beneficial
The first think that comes to mind when thinking about whitetail deer mineral licks is bucks with huge antlers right? Of course it is!
The benefits of mineral licks and having a few of these sites on your property, go well beyond the size of antlers.
Having a well-thought-out plan on mineral licks helps the entire population of deer on your property, and the biggest of which is building a great protein and mineral complex for fawns! After all it’s difficult to have big old healthy bucks unless they start as healthy little fawns.
That is one reason that does frequent mineral licks quite often from the end of spring and beginning of summer throughout the summer and into fall. During this time they are lactating and the milk is a huge aspect of a healthy diet for that year’s fawns .
And when we go back to the big buck antler part of the discussion , Providing phosphorous and calcium when they’re lacking in the soil can help antler growth and be just as important as food plots in producing inches of healthy antler.
What minerals should and shouldn’t be used in a great mineral site
There are many people who set up mineral lick sites with nothing other than salt. Salt can attract deer and they will use the lick. But salt alone has little if any effect on antler growth and producing healthy milk for the fawn.
Many people will disagree, but the truth is in and that is a fact. Salt is a building block to a good mineral lick site, but there is more to consider when planning your site.
Marketing and other media such as TV shows sell many people on this mineral mix or that mineral mix. But that is what marketing is supposed to do, sell.
The truth is that few of these products are very beneficial at all and contain a very high amount of salt filler to make you think you are getting a lot of bang for your buck! (No Pun intended)
Like a lot of things the hunting world is filled with dubious products promising the success we all crave, but seldom deliver on those promises. But because we see those shows with a guy or gal sitting behind that monster buck, we think that it has to be true! It worked for them!
It is a great idea to build your own mineral base by buying at your local feed and seed store. You can buy each component in 25 or 50 pound bags and end up spending much less money for a much larger amount of mineral mix !
When I personally do this, I usually wind up making 250 pounds of mineral mix for the same price of 100 pounds of the over promoted camo bag stuff you see on television!
But there are occasionally products that are worth their salt (pun intended) that you can utilize in your mineral sites that offer great quality and value !
The best commercial product on the market that I have tested is without a doubt and hands down Whitetail Institute, Imperial whitetail 30-06 in the red bag! Hands down, game over!
The reason for the red bag is that the red bag is a protein and vitamin added blend at a tiny price increase. At about $30 for a 20 pound bag, it’s a no- brainer!
You are not only getting the minerals but you are also getting the essential vitamins that deer require for not only antler growth , but good health as well!
It contains what they call Antler up 3D that contains phosphorus and calcium that we mentioned before that promotes antler development and growth, as well as vitamins, minerals and a 10% protein boost in addition to all the other trace minerals that are common building blocks in a good mineral lick!
The best part is that you can mix 10 pounds of standard table salt with this for an attractant boost and you have 40 ponds of super charged mineral lick magic!
You can also add some bang for your buck by mixing the 30-06 blend with extra trace minerals and salt to make a bigger batch in case you want to split it up into two sites. But keep your extras to no more than 20 pounds, ad mix it well.
If you have a total of 40 pounds of mixed 30-06, trace mineral and salt you still have a good amount of the vitamins, protein, phosphorus and calcium mixed in, and 20 pounds per mineral site is a great measure !
Make your Whitetail deer mineral sites a safe haven
If there is one single factor that will completely destroy your mineral sites ad feeder sites, it’s hunting over either!
Many people will point how Mr. Mega hunter on the outdoor network kills monster bucks over bait at feeders on every episode of “Big boys whitetail TV” ! ( Good made up name huh!)
The truth is that these shows are filmed in many areas and states throughout the season. When they go to a certain ranch to film, there has likely been no one there on that particular stand all season !
The ranch owner will save that area of his ranch for TV filming and the publicity and marketing that comes from a kill on TV at his ranch. These hunts are sometimes planned a year in advance and no one hunts that spot until after the T.V. shoot.
Unless you have 10,000 acres of hunting land, and 50 stand sites I will guarantee you that a deer harvest over a mineral site or feeder site will hurt your chances there for the rest of the year! And a second harvest will mean the end for months! An adukt whitetail buck will not keep returning to an area that he sees as a danger!
Where should you put a great mineral site?
A great whitetail deer mineral lick should be placed close to a creek or water source, in an area of several intersecting trails and at the edges of a thicket or bedding area.
Don’t just visualize where you want to put it and then go there. Scout it and pick the best location. If you have a creek on your property, get as close to a thick bedding area as you can. Locate a place within 10-20 yards of the creek where two or more trails intersect and that’s where you stake your claim.
This type of area makes it conducive for the deer to drink water when they are using the site.
If you place your site far from water the solids that the deer eat will pass through the deer’s digestive system without dissolving and putting the vitamins, minerals and protein where it needs to be.
The water intake helps to start breaking down any fine particles that haven’t completely dissolved into the soil.
Being close to a bedding area that is thick means that the deer will use the site more often as they don’t have to be exposed during daylight hours as much. And several intersecting trails means that more deer travel through that area and therefore have a greater chance of more deer using it!
Should you do multiple mineral licks on one property?
That is completely a matter of choice. I prefer to keep mineral sites in the same place every year. Just refresh it year after year. My experience has been that mineral sites should be placed every 50 acres. For instance if you have 50 acres you place one site, 100 acres two sites, 150 acres 3 sites, and so on.
Placing too many sites will only make a big part of your mineral licks more difficult to use to your benefit.
That big part is trail camera observation. Place a trail camera at each location and stay out of the area except to pull and replace cards and do it as quickly as possible and wear your rubber boots and scent killer just as if you are hunting.
The last thing you want to do is alert a big buck to your presence! We all know what happens then !
How to make the best mineral licks
Find your location mentioned above. Rake out an area that is about a 5-foot circle. Make sure all vegetation, sticks and other debris is removed.
If by chance that area you have chosen has a stump, rake the area around the stump to the same 5-foot circle. Pour a couple of pounds of your mix directly onto the stump.
*NOTE: For best results on a stump location, pour a few ounces or even a whole bottle of maple pancake syrup onto the stump.
With a shovel or post hole diggers, dig a hole that is about 1 foot wide and 1 foot deep. Pour in about 3 pounds(guessing is fine) of your 30-06 or 30-06 blend. Fill the hole in. Then sprinkle the rest of the 20 pounds of mix evenly throughout that circle.
For best results, take a bucket with you and pour 3-5 gallons of creek water into the center where you dug the hole.
That is it! You now have a great site! every year after that repeat the process in exactly the same spot. You will create a rich vitamin, mineral, protein lick that soaks and penetrates deep into the ground.
I have seen deer use these sites for many years and I have one on my property that you can almost hide a 4 wheeler in because they have dug it out so much seeking theses beneficial goodies !
Long term lick sites
Starting your mineral lick sites is of course the most important aspect of a mineral program!
Much of the time you will see deer start using new mineral sites the first year, but the longer the site is used the better! By freshening up mineral lick sites year after year, you can effect and somewhat change the travel routes of deer in your area!
Every year when you refreshen the site, do it as though it was the first year . Use the same amount of minerals as you did when you started it.
While deer have been known to dig deep holes in the ground at mineral sites, a lot of the mineral soaks into the ground with heavy rains so deep that the deer never get to it.
Every year I will shovel several shovels full of fresh earth into the hole that has been made at each mineral site and mix it with the new minerals. This keeps an attainable amount of mineral where the deer can easily access it while also letting more soak into the ground.
I have seen mineral lick sites that were traditional deer gathering places completely dry up after the hole they have dug gets over knee deep, and I’ve also seen deer use licks that were so deep you could only see their backs while they were using it.
But keeping the mineral lick as close to knee deep or less with better your chances with holding and maintaining your deer heard.
We have talked about the benefits, locations, ingredients and how to concerning mineral licks. These mineral lick sites are a minster property upgrade for the entire deer herd and should be done in the same spots every year for maximum results!
Good luck with your mineral site and have a great hunting season!
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below and I will get back to you ASAP !