Why Have A Mineral Site?
Here are some Key Reasons
Spring is a magical time in the outdoors, with many fun things to do. If you are anything like me, you’ll be spending a lot of time in the woods chasing those long beards, looking for morels, or in a boat fishing for crappie or spawning bass. But now is not the time to forget about Whitetail deer. Now is the time to get your mineral sites out.
Here are a few reasons why I think every Whitetail enthusiast should have at least one mineral site in the woods starting in April.
In Spring, mineral sites can be a great place to find shed antlers when the sites are located next to food sources.
The first and main reason I put out a mineral site (honestly) is that it attracts deer.
From fawns to bucks, several deer will visit your mineral sites regularly. You’ll be able to get a really good idea of what bucks made it through the season and if there are any new ones to the area.
You’ll be able to tell how the fawn numbers look in your area and it will help to hold does until the fall. (I love to put my cell cameras up on my mineral sites starting at the beginning of March. I will leave them on camera mode for three months. Sometimes, at the beginning of June, I go back to freshen up the site—which is now bare dirt—and swap out batteries, if needed. I love to watch the bucks grow in velvet throughout the summer. This helps me have an idea of which ones I want to start to pattern for the fall.
The next reason I put mineral sites out is to replenish all the important minerals that the deer lack after a long winter.
Deer prefer mineral sites high in salt content. It doesn’t matter if the salt is in powder form or block form; they crave the salt. In the spring and summer months, deer have a sodium deficiency due to the high water and potassium content in their forage. This is what makes them seek out the salt. I have had the best luck placing my sites on heavily worn trails next to water.
My favorite place to place mineral sites is on a stump in a tree line on a creek. The stump helps to soak up all the minerals, and I have seen the deer even eat the stump. If there’s not a creek nearby, I like to place my mineral site in a shaded area just off a heavily worn trail in the timber. The closer to the bedding area, the better. Or, I like to place one on the entry or exit to a food plot. Deer will seek out the minerals after eating the greens in the food plot.
Another reason I believe everyone should put out a mineral site is that it benefits does, too.
It has been proven that does seek out minerals during gestation and lactation. This is because they need high levels of calcium and magnesium during these times. Fawns nurse at least four times a day for the first 10 weeks of their lives. You can see why those much-needed minerals are so important to their survival. So, not only do bucks benefit, the does and fawns do, too. You will also have other animals stop by from time to time, such as squirrels and raccoons, so mineral sites benefit several different forms of wildlife.
The Antler Debate
The debate about whether minerals help bucks grow larger antlers depends on who you talk to.
Nothing has been proven, yet, but there are a few interesting things to consider. A Whitetail can only con- sume small amounts of minerals in their natural diet. Therefore, mineral sites are important.
The Whitetail buck can store calcium and phosphorus to use later to aid in antler growth. This is important because 11 different kinds of minerals have been found in antlers. Of those 11 minerals, calcium and phosphorus make up almost one-third of them, at around 30%. With those numbers, I would like to think minerals help in some way. Not that I’m all about antler size, because I mainly hunt for meat. But who doesn’t like to wrap their hands around a big set of antlers? A mineral site could be the difference in what pushes that 150-inch buck to that 160-inch mark to make it in the Boone & Crockett record books.
There are several different ways to put out a mineral site. Just remember, it’s important to reuse the same site from year to year. Deer learn where the site is and will visit it every year.
This is a protein-based granular attractant. I just put it over top rock. The material is available from almost anywhere you can obtain hunting supplies and from most general farm stores. These also seem to hold up best for me in rock form, as they slowly dissolve into the ground. I will also put them on a tree stump, if possible, to help the minerals soak in even more. Either way, when dry or when it rains, the ground absorbs the minerals, and, before too long, the deer will have the dirt all dug out.
The general rule of thumb is one mineral site per 80 acres. I start with about three in a new area. I let the deer decide which location they like best. I will continue to replenish that site and forget about the rest. Remember, big bucks may not visit the same location that does do, because they tend to be cautious, even in the summer. For that reason, make sure you don’t have one or two bucks hitting a site before you forget about it. That is why cameras are important.
With a quick internet search, you can find several other options and opinions. There are even some homemade recipes for the guys that like to make their own mineral systems.
If you can find the ingredients in your area and you use a lot of minerals, this method can save you lots of money. They all consist of mostly the same things, and they all beat just a plain salt block. (Not that there is anything wrong with a salt block, since, as I said before, deer crave high salt content; there is just no mineral value in that option.)
If you are just looking for pictures, a salt block works. Another option for finding minerals is to look at products from companies like big tine. They make supplemental feed that has minerals and vitamins in it. The vitamins contain probiotics to help with digestion, keeping the deer healthier. They also make blocks and just a mineral and vitamin granular mix.
Another thing I like to use at my mineral site is a liquid to pour over the top. I prefer buck jams apple syrup. It has a strong apple smell. This just helps to bring the deer in. Another good product is big tines happy hour. There is no value in the syrups mineral-wise, other than that the smell helps to bring them in.
In closing, here’s a key takeaway: mineral sites benefit all deer. They will help with deer inventory. They are a perfect place to glass from a distance in the summer to watch bucks grow. And, you never know, a mineral site may just help you capitalize on the buck of your dreams.