Providing mineral licks for deer
The minerals might not produce trophy bucks, but they won't hurt either.
Landowners interested in improving the health of whitetail deer and antler development often put out mineral licks.
Brian Murphy is a wildlife biologist with the Quality Deer Management Association. He says while there are no proven benefits from putting out minerals for deer, there is a connection between the mineral content of soil, and deer body and antler size.
"We do know that Midwest soils where our crops are grown produce bigger deer than the deep South where we have sandy, relatively infertile soils," he says. "So, we know there is a correlation somewhere between mineral quality and deer health. Whether or not you can overcome that with a few salt blocks or mineral mixes on your property is I think the bigger question."
Murphy says unless you are properly managing deer habitat, adding minerals isn't going to make a difference. However, if you want to put out minerals, they can be found in several forms.
The two most common types are blocks and granulated bagged mixes. Because deer crave sodium, Murphy says there must be at least 30-percent or more salt in the mix or the deer will walk right past it.
There are other nutrients that should be included as well.
"Like calcium and phosphorous, which are the two most important macro nutrients for antler development," says Murphy. "But beyond those, sodium in itself is important, as well as magnesium. Some of the micro or trace elements that are necessary for a number of deer functions would be manganese, copper, selenium, and cobalt."
Murphy recommends putting out one mineral lick per-100-acres in the spring so deer can use it until fall. But some states don't allow hunting near mineral sites, and some don't allow the licks at all where certain infectious diseases are a concern.
Radio interview source: Brian Murphy, Wildlife Biologist, Quality Deer Management Association
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