Why supplement minerals for Whitetails? Does it really benefit the deer herd? What minerals are best? Tons of questions here, but I am going to get you started in the right direction and then you can take it as far as you want!
It has never been scientifically proven that supplementing minerals for Whitetail herds in the “wild” is beneficial. However, common sense would tell you, obviously, any supplementation is beneficial to your deer herd. If you take Whitetail Management serious, then this is a step in which you will consistently do, if you are not to that point already.
Fun Fact – Calcium and Phosphorus are key. Almost as important, sodium. Why? Sodium is an extreme attractant for deer. Whitetails love it. Whitetails love salt because does need it to aid in producing milk and bucks need it for growing antlers. Make sure you are providing a good amount of Sodium, but not too much. Another reason to include Sodium, minerals are BITTER. Deer do not like the taste of straight minerals. Whatever product you use, provide an attractant with it, or make sure it is both, mineral and attractant. Calcium and Phosphorus, though, are the main ingredient that makes up a Whitetail Deer antler. Calcium, however, holds 1st place due to the fact that each antler is made up of about 1.5-2.0 times more Calcium than Phosphorus.
Ok – the fun part. How do you apply it/use it? There are many ways, and I DO NOT claim to be an expert, however I do have 15+ years of 20+ sites per year of knowledge. I will share with you what has worked well for me. The worst thing you can do is put out a bad application and end up with zero success, think there are no deer in that area, and ultimately miss out on some great opportunities.
First rule I have learned, figure out where your deer are in the spring. They are not going to be hanging out in the same area that they were back in November. Find their travel routes. Look for fresh sign. Once you have a “general” area of where you want to put out your minerals, find water. Water is such an important part of this process. The closer you are to water, the more use your site will get. Next, find a rotten stump, log, or exposed root system (usually on creek banks). Reasoning? Absorption. You need something for your minerals to soak into. If you have the perfect spot, but no stump or root system, move a rotten log to that spot. Take your minerals and soak them into either the root system, log or stump. Next, add a little water (unless using liquid forms of mineral). This water will aid in your minerals being soaked into your stump or log.
Place a trail camera up, on that is easy to use and has long lasting battery life. I prefer the Covert Scouting Cameras. Out of every brand of trail camera I have ever used, and trust me, I have a small fortune invested in them, Covert Cameras battery life and trigger speed is unbelievable.
Stay away. Let that site become established. I will not come back to a new site until after the first 4 weeks it has been out. No matter what products tell you, or advertisement, deer have to find the nutrient source first. Then, they have to trust it and then they will become regular customers. You go and check that site too soon that deer will not be back. He has now associated that spot with your scent and that is enough for him to find a different source.
Overall, be smart. Use your head. Good hunters harvest deer consistently, not good products. However, a good hunter will find and utilize good products in order to give himself the edge over a mature Whitetail. Utilize minerals, Utilize feed. If anything, you are giving back to nature what you are taking out each year. Knowledge is the key to success. If you want to become a successful hunter, especially with a bow, know everything there is to know about whitetail deer. Including what minerals make up their antler growth!