How To: Building Your Own Mineral Stationon May 20, 2012
I recommend creating your mineral sites in late winter and early spring. If you already have an established mineral site, this would be the time to freshen them up as well. A whitetail will be lacking key nutrients at this time, and providing them with an added nutritional boost before spring green up can make a tremendous impact in the health and antler growth for bucks, and for does carrying fawns.
Since deer food is scarce this time of year, it also gives your deer an added reason to stay on your property, rather than relocating to your neighbors in search of the needed nutrients. Once the deer become comfortable and accustomed to a mineral site, they’ll visit it nearly year round, keeping bucks on your property, and not your neighbors.
Maintaining a Mineral Station
Once you’ve created your mineral lick, the majority of your work is done. It shouldn’t take the deer very long to locate it and begin using it. In fact, that process can all take place in less than a day if the site has been properly located. However, if you want your site to receive extended, continual use, especially by mature bucks, there are a few steps that need to be mentioned.
To begin with, your site needs to be freshened. If you let your mineral site sit idle for an entire spring and summer deer will gradually use it less and less. Sure, rain showers help seep the minerals into the soil and the deer will still visit your site to retrieve the minerals out of the dirt, but your site wouldn’t be reaching its full potential.
A properly maintained mineral site will help keep deer on your property and not your neighbor's! This site, only 4 years old, gets worked over repeatedly every summer.
I like refreshing my mineral sites every 3 weeks to a month. This keeps them attractive and keeps the deer interested in them. To refresh a mineral site, I just repeat the same process as when I created the site. I dump out my minerals and rake them into the dirt. The time in which you refresh your mineral sites, however, is of the utmost importance.
As most serious bowhunters know, deer can become educated very easily, and carelessly visiting your mineral sites is a great way to turn your deer nocturnal, or to keep them from visiting your site period. To prevent this from happening, I only refresh mineral sites during the middle of the day, usually around 12 or 1. During the heat of summer, this means a hot, sweaty, snakey walk through the woods, but it’s worth it because I know I won’t be educating any deer to my presence. I also wear rubber boots and spray down completely with a scent eliminator. I have found this makes a tremendous difference, particularly with bucks. If possible, I also try to refresh my mineral sites on a weekday. I’m very blessed to have a job where I work from home and allow me to visit my hunting property at my leisure. Since most hunters are afforded of that luxury, they are resigned to the weekends to work on projects on their hunting property. By refreshing my sites on a weekday, I leave my property completely untouched on the weekends. That way, when other hunters are busy tramping through the woods, my property will serve as a refuge or sanctuary, thus increasing their comfort and security level with my property reinforcing it as a safe location.
Nutritional Benefits of Mineral Sites
If you have any familiarity with minerals and mineral sites, then you’re sure to know that salt is the primary ingredient in most mixes. In fact, salt is used solely as an attractant in many mixes. Yes, deer need some salt, but too much salt can be a bad thing, especially during spring and summer. It is during this time when plants and vegetation are at their most desirable state to a whitetail. They’re delicious, nutritious, palatable, and abundant. It’s no coincidence, however, that deer are drawn like magnets to mineral mixes heavy in salt content during this time of year. Since most of a deer’s diet revolves around lush, green browse this time of year they derive a healthy amount of potassium from those plants. Further, since potassium and salt work harmoniously in balance with one another, deer become drawn to salty mineral mixes and attractants.
Running trail cameras over your mineral sites is a great way to monitor your herd's health and inventory the bucks living on your property.
This will result in a lot of traffic and trail camera pictures at your mineral site, but an excess of salt can limit a whitetail’s nutritional intake. Deer that frequent mineral mixes with an excess of salt consume an excess of salt. This excess of salt in turn makes a deer incredibly thirsty driving it to water sources more than usual. The majority of a whitetail’s water intake should come from the vegetation it consumes. However, when it’s forced to drink more water than usual, the water then occupies space in the whitetail’s stomach that should be used for nutritional, protein packed deer foods this time of year.