-By Randy Cooper
I’m in the process of installing mineral sites on the properties I hunt. To me, these sites are very important. The deer benefit from a nutrient standpoint. I benefit from being able to check tracks near the sites, as well as camera monitoring to let me know what’s in the area. I like to keep these sites active all year long as part of my management strategy. Mineral sites are focal points for deer. The law in Georgia says that you can’t hunt within sight of one of these mineral stations. The strategy I use is to hunt an active trail leading to the site instead of hunting over it, just like I would approach hunting a food plot.
Deer use mineral sites all year and reap benefits. In early spring, does carrying fawns especially need nutrients. Bucks have used up their mineral reserves after rut and winter, which they need to develop new antlers. Later in spring, does that are lactating consume minerals heavily and by now bucks also need them to power the growth of antlers that are already coming on strong. In summer does and bucks continue to need minerals to sustain antler growth and aid does recovering from fawning and digestion of well established browse. In fall and winter, bucks and does are consuming a lot of calories preparing for colder temperatures and the rut to come. At this time, doe consumption of minerals at the site will increase and bucks will decrease. I’ve even seen bucks use a mineral site as a scrape. I reason that he realizes does frequent this place and he responds with a scrape.
The main ingredients of many of the prepared minerals available today are calcium, phosphorus, sodium and magnesium. A lot of companies will also throw in a concoction of their own and patent it. Usually it will be something along the lines of molasses, sugar cane for an aromatic flavor that attracts deer, and protein and fat for calorie intake. Many companies make a powder form that can also be added to whole corn in a broadcast feeder or a gravity feeder to enhance the attraction.
I have always had good success by simply preparing a site at the end of a food plot. The deer are already there feeding so it just makes sense to put the site there also. You can put it along a good trail and hunt the downwind side of the site of the trail as long as you’re not within sight of the mineral.
To prepare my sites, I take a steel rake, clear the ground of debris and make a shallow, dish-shaped depression in the ground about 3-feet long by 2-feet wide. I usually pour a 40-lb. sack of a good mineral supplement evenly over the entire area. I make sure it’s in a trail so that deer can’t miss it. The reason for the depression is to collect water and wash the minerals into the ground. Farmers and wildlife managers I’ve talked to say that when deer eat the mineral-rich soil it aids in digestion. I’ve seen my sites grow 4 years later to 4-ft by 4-ft, 3-ft deep – you could use it as a foxhole!
The whole idea behind mineral supplementation is a good practice and should be part of a sound management program on everyone’s hunting property. It enhances the overall health of the herd and that’s what we’re all after. Take a look online at the vast variety from so many companies today. They all have something different to offer. This is just one more step in the right direction toward having that little piece of heaven all your own to hunt healthy deer. Give it a try.