By Jeremy Flinn, Professional Deer Biologist and Buckscore GM
One of the most popular products available in the deer hunting industry is Deer Mineral. The use of mineral licks is a great attraction to whitetails, and can get you a really nice close-up of the buck you are after. But the promise of larger antlers, heavier weights, and healthier herds is not something that you should instantly “Buy” into. Though fall is one of the “hottest” times to put out mineral, antlers have long since stopped growing so how can it create “larger” ones? Mineral supplementation can be a benefit to your herd, but placing it out during the proper time is key to maximizing its value.
Summer is arguably one of the most energy expensive times for a whitetail, regardless of if it’s a buck or doe. A buck is in the most intense antler growing phases, putting on close to an inch or more of antler a day starting sometime in June. At this stage, nearly 80% of the antler is composed of protein. Thus the most important item for him is a high source of protein, like soybeans for example. However, once hardened, antlers contain over 20% calcium and 10% phosphorus along with a variety of other minerals. Most of these are obtained in adequate levels through their daily food intake, however, in some regions, these minerals are not as prevalent and supplementation is required. The point is applying mineral for bucks at the wrong time makes it simply an attractant, NOW is the time to get minerals out if you think it will help bucks in your area.
For the doe, gestation (pregnancy) and lactation (milk production) are the most energy expensive tasks she will likely encounter in her life. During this time, her growing fawn (whether inside or out) is absorbing vital nutrients and minerals from the doe. This requires the doe to work extra hard to obtain higher quantities of nutrients and minerals or face deficiency and likely illness. Think about your wife or significant other being pregnant; on a routine, they likely consumed pre natal vitamins. These vitamins contained many of the nutrients and minerals required by your growing baby, and prevented “mom” from depleting her own supply which she desperately needed to stay healthy.
If you are a big fan of minerals, consider applying them at times when you may not be seeing “big” antlers on trail cams or hunting. The odds of them producing the advertised monster bucks on the package are unlikely, but if it is going to work, then this is the time it will pay off the most!
Visit Buckscore.com to download the ultimate deer hunting tool.