-By Rich Miller
We all work, sweat and worry planting and maintaining our food plots and some of us even supplemental feed. All of this is done to attract and help grow the deer we are hunting. Having these food plots and feeders in place are great, but I think there are a couple things we can do that is just as important, if not more, to help grow bigger and healthier deer.
The one thing that I practice religiously on the properties that I hunt is keeping mineral sites out and available to deer year around. We all know that having mineral out for bucks helps them grow bigger antlers, but I believe that there is a lot more to it than that. It starts long before the bucks get the minerals. I believe it all starts with the does. I am not talking about putting out a salt block and thinking you are giving the deer what they need. We are not trying to give our deer high blood pressure. I am talking about using blends that contain calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sulfur, potassium, and several different types of vitamins.
Using a quality blend that contains these minerals will help does with weight gain and increase fertility come the rut. Healthier does mean healthier fawns. The does will have better milk production, which in turn will give the fawns the head start they need. Since I have been using minerals year round, I have noticed that my 1 ½ old deer that were spikes and little rag horns have tuned into little basket rack 8-pointers with a lot of potential.
Even with all the food plots and minerals in place, none of this will work if the deer do not live long enough to grow a good rack. Where I live in the South we have very liberal limits on deer. The average buck killed is a 1 ½ old and they never live long enough to become a trophy. I know a lot of people that complain about never being able to see a big buck and they will be the first one to shoot a little spike or 4-pointer. I am not saying don’t ever shoot a deer again unless it is a world class deer. I am saying don’t, shoot every little deer you see. Give some of them time to grow up and you will be surprised at what they turn into.