Do Deer Minerals Really Work?
There are many claims made about deer minerals and similar products. It can be very difficult to sort the truth from the hype. Many industry claims make it seem like you will have giant bucks running around all over, if only you pour enough bags or blocks of their product around your hunting stand. But, what can you really expect to see? Hopefully, we can clear this up and help you understand how mineral sites can benefit your deer herd and help you see more deer from your favorite fall hunting perch.
First, let's be honest: no study has ever proven any deer mineral supplement will grow bigger antlers on your herd. There are several reasons for this. Deer are wild animals living in an open environment. While some supplementation helps, you cannot possibly hope to have a huge impact on their nutrition using a mineral site. If you tried to pack in the two minerals used in antler growth, calcium and potassium, in huge quantites to offset this, the mixture would be unpalatable. Another fact is, whitetail bucks are able to use minerals from their own bones to grow antlers even if the minerals are deficient in the environment. Age and genetics are much more important to growing large antlers. Supplementation on macro-minerals can only hope to make a very small impact.
So why use a mineral product at all? There are benefits to these supplements. Many contain trace minerals. These micro-nutrients keep bucks, does and fawns healthy. If deer are healthy, they will reach their maximum potential in size, reproduction... and antler growth! This is where these supplements help grow bone. They don't increase the size by supplying mass amounts of calcium and phosphorous, but by producing healthy deer. The trace mineral content is they key, not the steroid-like hype of those two macro-minerals.
Even with the health benefits, there are other, maybe better, reasons to use a trace mineral product at your property. ATTRACTION. First, it is important to understand why deer use mineral sites. Simply put, they crave the salt. In spring and summer, deer feed on plants. During fast growth periods, grasses and other plants are very high in potassium and water. When consumed by deer, the osmotic balance in their blood becomes imbalanced. Salt intake corrects this imbalance. This gives you a chance to add other nutrients to the site while you attract these deer.
Salt is what they want, so why not give them just salt blocks? First, you miss out on the chance to make them healthier. Also, while deer will eat and lick salt in their environment, it is not the best attractant. Deer won't travel very far for a simple salt lick and it won't pull them from other properties. To help, some products add flavors and other ingredients, making these sites much more attractive to deer. They will go farther out of their way to these lick sites, if and when they find them as the additional flavors make them taste really good to the deer. Now they get the salt they need and a treat they really enjoy.
If you haven't used trace mineral attractants in the past, I hope you now see how they can be a valuable addition to your land management tools. As hunters, we love to see more deer, help our deer be healthy and perhaps harvest a trophy. Whether for hunting, trail cameras or backyard feeding, give a mineral site a try!