How to Make a Mineral Buffet for White-Tailed Deer |

Summer seems like an easy life for the white tail. Cold temperatures and the barren winter landscape are long gone, replaced by mild weather and lush green growth. And yet, June, July, and August present their difficulties for deer. Are you raising and feeding young puppies, and the money is busy packing your body weight for the next stream, as well as putting any spare energy into growing the large shelves we hope to see during the hunting season. All that activity stresses the deer.

Minerals help deer overcome some of this stress, which is why white-tailed deer (and other toys) have long been drawn to mineral sites that occur naturally in their range. Since these are relatively rare, hunters began providing mineral resources to deer decades ago, and the practice has grown ever since. These days, almost every food parcel company worth its salt (excuse me) has added a mineral block to its lineup. But you can do your own licking for a little less with just a few hand tools, a little sweat and minerals found in every farm supply store.

Yes, minerals are worth throwing out

Some hunter-gatherers dismiss the importance of minerals for white-tailed deer health and some of their points are valuable. The best lick in the world will not turn a drenus into a super mama, nor will it turn a 10 point average into a B&C candidate. However, as proponents of minerals will argue, a complete diet (which includes minerals) allows the white tail to fully express its genetic potential. Years of watching white tails choose to eat this and not that (and vice versa) have convinced me that deer is expert in finding exactly what their body needs at any given time and that white tails retract many of the mineral springs this time of year. undeniable. As evidence, I have mineral deposits that I started years ago and I no longer refresh them with new material and deer continue to return to them this year, digging up dirt containing mineral traces established long ago.

White-tailed dollar trail camera photo
A group of bachelors with dollars visit one of the author’s mineral sites in early August. Scott Bestul

But there is another great reason to start a buffet. For hunters, there is simply no better place to start collecting photos of summer trails. Once established, a mineral site is so attractive that it will absorb almost any money in the area. If you are serious about getting a summer money inventory, a mineral buffet will compete and will often be better than any food or water as a summer walkway. So let’s go. Here’s how to create the perfect mineral buffet for summer deer, in six steps.

1. Check the rules.

Be careful. Some states ban mineral palms altogether or regulate their use. Get a copy of your state rules and make sure the placement of minerals is legal in your area. If it is an acceptable practice, it can be adjusted, so be sure to follow any restrictions prescribed by your state agency. And do not assume that you already know the rules, because with the spread of CWD and other diseases, the rules may have changed since the last check.

2. Mix the minerals.

As mentioned, there are many mineral mixes, blocks and commercial stones on the market, and I know many hunters and managers who swear by this or that brand. And I do not dispute any of them. However, I’m a cheap skater on a limited budget and would rather spend my dollars on other hunting equipment, so I make my own mineral. If you are on the penny plan, or just prefer to do things yourself, follow my instructions and go to your local farm supply store and buy some bags of trace mineral salt.

This is what many ranchers offer their stock and, if you do not use anything else, it will be more than enough to lure deer. That said, I like to take things a step further and also get bags of dicalcium phosphate (commonly known as di-cal). This is an additive that some dairy farmers feed on their calves, so it contains some body building elements that can take a simple mineral lick to another level. I usually make a 60/40 mixture of minerals / trace minerals, in a 5-gallon bucket, using a shovel to mix the ingredients. Usually a bucket is enough to light a pair of slaps.

Choose a good camera location.

camera photo of white dollar tail trail
A graceful 10-point pose for the camera of the author’s traces in another of his mineral locations. Scott Bestul

Since I use my palms as a camera site, I like to place them in areas where I can pull out an SD card with minimal inconvenience to area money. For the most part, this means the edges of farm fields and food parcels, which are perfect for two reasons: first, they are usually the main summer food sources that are already pulling the white tail and, second, they are located in a place that allows me to check the cameras at noon without colliding with deer. I focus on soybean or alfalfa fields in farm villages, clover feed plots everywhere and the edges of fresh cracks or natural openings in large forests. Of course, the closer you place your palm to the entrance paths, the corners of the field edges, or other well-marked deer areas, the more likely it is that it will attract attention.

4. Dig a hole and add the mineral mixture.

Creating a mineral slap could not have been easier. Choose a good tree to hang a camera on the edge of the aforementioned food sources. Take down 10 or 15 yards and stick a shovel in the dirt and raise the ground to a distance of about 2 feet. Throw a gallon or more of your mixture into the dirt, then use your shovel to mix it into the ground. After that, spread another gallon or a little more of the mixture on top to serve as a visual attraction to lure the deer into place. Use the rest of your 5 gallon bucket to create a second buffet in a similar location, 400 to 800 yards away. Oh, and if your lick is next to a farm field, make sure it is away from the edge of the field, as the deer can really dig and enlarge a lick over time, and you do not want the landowner to gets upset because you created a crater on the edge of his field.

5. Hang the tracking camera.

As mentioned, mineral slaps are the best place to collect pre-seasonal photos, and I rarely start a buffet no matter where and how I hang it. Ideally, I want a tree pole or fence to be about 10 feet away from licking and sometimes a little more; remember, deer will spend some time in place, and a flash (even an infrared or dim light) that hits their face at each visit can make even the softest ones a little weird. If I feel like the camera itself is exposed, I will brush it in by sticking one or two leafy branches behind it. I like to visit the camera and pull out the card after just a few days at first, so I can look at the photos and make sure I set up the camera properly. Most cameras allow you to set the number of shots to be taken for each trigger event, and it’s worth considering reducing the number; I have also had deer made and licking for 20 minutes or so, which adds dozens of photos of the same deer.

6. Repeat if necessary.

Creating a buffet does not guarantee that the deer will use it. I had licking that ignited immediately with the deer activity while the others were almost ignored. I believe the mineral simply reacts to some types of soil better than others, but this is just speculation. Regardless, it is a good idea to review every beginner buffet to see if the deer are enjoying them. If there is little or no activity, create another buffet nearby to see if it gets. Eventually, some are sure to do so — and you will be ready to start taking summer photos with your best money.

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