It wasn’t too many years ago that a deer hunter’s herd management plan included nothing more than throwing out a salt block or two on the property they hunted. Some hunters would keep these salt licks off limits for hunting, while others hung a treestand within easy reach of an arrow and hunted it like a bait site. But times have certainly changed and there’s now more products for your deer herd management than you could possibly ever use in a lifetime.
But one question I often hear is, “Are mineral licks actually any more effective than using a pure salt lick?” So here’s a look at some of the facts that may help you decide what you want to offer the deer in your neck of the woods in the days ahead when it comes to a mineral lick VS. salt lick.
I had a chance to catch up with Mike Rex of Heartland Wildlife and he shared some insight as to why salt simply isn’t enough.
“Whitetail deer get most of the nutrients and water their diet requires in the spring and summer months by ingesting succulent plant growth,” says Rex. “The increased water and potassium uptake creates a sodium deficiency which causes them to crave salt. However, the attractiveness of salt diminishes greatly during the fall and winter months rendering pure ‘salt licks’ ineffective to the hunter. Heartland mineral supplements and deer blocks, in addition to being nutritionally superior to plain salt, are enhanced with apple and acorn flavoring to attract deer year round. Deer will continue to routinely visit our ‘built’ product sites long after their craving for additional salt has subsided.”
The bottom line? Salt is just salt. Yes, deer will dig a crater in the ground to get it, but they do need more if you want to maximize these lick sites year round.
So, what does all this mean to the average deer hunter?
According to the QDMA, the results of studies suggest that mineral supplementation – especially calcium, phosphorus, and sodium – may provide some benefit, especially in situations where deer are nutritionally deprived or areas with minerally deficient soils. However, age and nutrition are the two most important ingredients for producing large antlered bucks. Regardless of the intensity of mineral supplementation, a yearling buck will still be a yearling buck. Bucks must live long enough to reach physical maturity while having access to high quality nutrition to achieve maximum antler growth.
So just throw out a salt or mineral block and watch the size of your bucks explode, right? Not quite. But it’s one piece of the puzzle that’ll help your herd maximize its potential. And it’s a very easy piece of the puzzle. Don’t miss out on it.
Check out the complete line of mineral and other great herd management products from Heartland Wildlife at www.heartlandwildlife.com.