UPDATED ON: May 8th, 2015
It’s that time of year, ladies and gentlemen! The grass is getting green; crops are being drilled into the ground, the days are getting longer and the sun burns a little bit hotter. Folks, believe it or not, but summer is right around the corner! For the serious bowhunter, there really is no offseason, we all know that. However, let’s be honest, we are pretty limited in our hunting related activities during the winter. Sure, we can hunt for sheds and partake in some land management projects, but spring and summer is when the real fun begins! Food plots, glassing for velvet bucks, putting out trail cameras, and one of my personal favorites, establishing and maintaining mineral stations.
Mineral supplements and attractants have been used by deer hunters and managers for several years for a variety of reasons. First, it’s common knowledge that deer are attracted to salt, especially during the spring and summer when plants and vegetations posses high levels of potassium. And since most mineral supplements and attractants have at least a trace of salt (it doesn’t take much to attract a whitetail) deer become easier to capture on trail cameras thus making it easier to conduct inventory and surveys of your local deer herd.
With spring in full swing and summer right around the corner, now’s the time to create your own mineral station.
Many deer hunters utilize minerals as a part of their Quality Deer Management (QDM) plan. Many mineral supplements on the market today offer vital minerals and nutrients (calcium, phosphorous, zinc, protein, etc.) that aid in antler growth among bucks and the lactation process among does. As mentioned, they are also great for trail camera surveys to determine buck to doe ratio, fawn recruitment rates, and overall herd health.
Creating a Mineral Station
Fortunately, creating, establishing, and maintain a mineral site is relatively easy work and won’t break your bank. Whether you choose to buy popular name brand minerals, or create your own mix at your local co-op store, you can begin attracting and inventorying the deer on your property in no time. Here’s how.
First and foremost, you need to decide on a location. This is an obvious first step, but a first step that should not be overlooked or lazily decided upon. You want your mineral stations to be in areas deer frequent often so you can maximize the site’s effectiveness and attractiveness. Locating your mineral site out in the middle of an open oak flat with attract some deer, yes, but not nearly as effectively as if it were strategically located on your property.
When deciding where to create your mineral sites, think of locations where you would hang a treestand, and think similarly. Again, you want your site to be frequented often, so you want to put your site in areas that deer congregate and in areas in which they feel safe. These locations could include heavily used deer trails, especially where two or more trails intersect. Similarly, pinch points, bottle necks and funnels are a great place to establish a mineral site. Close to bedding areas or in thick, brushy overgrown locations where deer feel safe are other great choices. Finally, a food plot or other sustainable food or water source would be a great option as well.
Creating a mineral station really isn’t that hard, and it’s relatively inexpensive as well!
Once you’ve decided where you want to create your mineral lick, it’s time to establish it. This is a very easy process. Once you’ve decided on your choice minerals simply dig a small hole (no more than a couple inches deep) or use a rake to loosen the top soil in the ground, and add your minerals. I’ve heard of several hunters and deer managers adding molasses, sugar, or other sweeteners in with their minerals for the first application, but I don’t think that’s completely necessary. I’m sure it works, but nearly all mineral sites have a habitual taste additive in their minerals that should suffice.