I thought I would share some of my secrets on creating successful mineral sites with Bioplots Buck-It Minerals. These pointers will make even beginners have success with our mineral sites.
1. The ideal time to begin a mineral site is late winter through mid-spring. However, late is better late than never.
2. Read the label and understand what you are getting in a mineral supplement. Biologists recommend a 2 to 1 ratio of calcium to phosphorus, plus magnesium and ample levels of commonly deficient micro-nutrients and vitamins to aid in absorption of the minerals. There are many products marketed as "minerals" that are little more than salt blocks. Bioplots Mineral Supplements are focused on science, not shortcuts.
3. Consider camera placement when choosing your site if you plan on running trail cams. Locate a good tree to set up on approximately 15' away from the site. Ideally you want the cam to be facing north for the least amount of sun interference.
4. Clear out a spot approximately 6' in diameter and rake it down to the bare soil. Apply the mineral evenly over the area. A light coating is ideal, just covering the soil. You can mix it in yourself or wait for rain to work it in for you. Piling it up should be avoided.
5. In the woods, choose locations near water sources. Trail intersections near creek beds are great. Anytime you can blend in nearby cover is good.
6. Near fields, focus on locations near warm season forage. Secluded corners of soybeans are perfect. Also food plots like cowpeas, lablab, jointvetch, red clover, etc. are great. Expect mostly night pics, but lots of them. I actually prefer this method so that I do not enter the deers comfort zone any more than necessary.
7. If possible, look for clay soil to start a mineral site. The attractant (typically salt) will last much longer on clay than sand. You can expect up to three months on clay soil.
8. Refresh your sites on sandy soil monthly, as the salt will leach out quickly. Vitamins also break down relatively quickly and benefit from being replenished monthly. The calcium and phosphorus do not leach nearly as fast, but they will not be consumed without the salt as bait.
9. Leave the site alone. Checking cams and replenishing your minerals every two to four weeks is OK, but please no more than that!
10. Mineral sites offer a great way to ensure that your deer will always have access to bone building nutrients when they need them. Keep them available year round. Deer are rebuilding their skeletal systems even after antler growth and lactation is complete!
Understanding the role of mineral supplements in deer
There is tons of misinformation out there about deer mineral supplements. Here is a breakdown of the most commonly deficient minerals and vitamins. These are the most important ingredients in your deer mineral mix.
Calcium - Used in the largest amounts for both antler and milk production. Calcium can be robbed from the skeletal system of the animal to meet the need if not provided in adequate amounts. Long term deficiencies can weaken bones, reduce antler growth, and hinder milk production in does.
Phosphorus - Phosphorus is the second most important mineral needed for antler growth. It is needed for antler growth, bone structure, and milk production. Phosphorus is typically deficient in soils in the south and east. It is important in carbohydrate metabolism and fertility. Common deficiency symptoms include poor conception rates and reduced body weights.
Magnesium - Magnesium supplementation is usually needed during spring green up. A few soil types require magnesium supplementation year-round. Magnesium is important for milk production and bone growth. Magnesium is also important for enzyme and nervous system function along with carbohydrate metabolism.
Zinc - Zinc is deficient in many parts of the U.S. Zinc is a
component of many enzymes and is important for the immune system, male
reproduction, skin, and hoof health. Deer have a limited ability to
store zinc and supplementation is usually necessary.
Copper - Copper is probably the most common micro-mineral deficiency in deer. It is important for fertility and immunity. Many parts of the U.S. have soil types that are severely deficient in copper and thus most deer need copper supplementation. Inadequate copper levels cause poor fertility and a weakened immune system.
Selenium - Selenium is also important for reproduction and a healthy immune system. Selenium works in conjunction with Vitamin E in the body. Most soils in the U.S. are deficient in selenium so supplementation is beneficial. Selenium is toxic in large amounts, but it is necessary in trace amounts to maintain herd health.
Vitamin A - The needed ingredients for vitamin A are typically abundant in lush forage, but they are low in mature or drought stricken forage. Deer under stress such as antler growth, rut recovery, or lactation have a higher vitamin A requirement than normal and can benefit from supplementation. Vitamin A plays a role in eye health, the immune system, and bone growth.
Vitamin D - Required for the absorption of calcium and phosphorus from the
intestine and their deposition in the bone matrix. Signs of vitamin D
deficiency are similar to a calcium or phosphorus deficiency.
Vitamin E - Is usually present in the diet in sufficient quantities for
deer. A selenium deficiency could lead to an
apparent deficiency of vitamin E. Vitamin E can be helpful for
short-term periods of stress such as lactation.
Are you ready to take your deer to the next level?