If you have not already and it’s legal where you are it is time to place mineral supplements out for whitetails. Not only are minerals helpful for antler development at this time of year minerals can improve a deer’s overall health. Although typically deer use mineral licks most heavily April through September they do use them all year.
There are several factors to keep in mind about mineral supplementation for whitetails. First of all there has been little research on whitetails and minerals. A lot of the opinions on the subject are based on research regarding domestic livestock and mineral supplementation. However, the research conducted indicates deer would benefit to some degree from mineral supplementation especially from calcium, phosphorus, and sodium. Another key factor to consider is there is a wide array of products on the market to fill this niche for whitetail hunters. Make sure you do your research on the product you pick as the quality of the products varies greatly.
Perhaps most importantly remember mineral supplementation is only a small piece of the puzzle for whitetail management. A lot of hunters are under the impression putting out a mineral lick in the spring will lead to trophy deer being behind every tree in the fall. This is simply not the case. The Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) puts it best, a 1 ½ old deer is a 1 ½ deer weather it has access to minerals or not.
If you do decide to use mineral supplementation put some thought into the location of where you place it. Along trails especially near intersections are good places to start looking. I like to place mineral blocks on top of stumps, which seems to help the block last longer. I have also seen deer lick the stump well after the block was gone. An interesting note however from the book Quality Whitetails the How and Why of Quality Deer Management is wild whitetails, are more likely to lick leached minerals from the dirt than actually licking a mineral block. That information would suggest you may be better off placing the block right on the ground. Based on my observations, specifically trail camera pictures deer do not hesitate to lick from the block.
One point I really want hammer home about mineral supplementation is if it is illegal where you hunt do not place out minerals. The QDMA and to my knowledge every state wildlife agency believes mineral blocks aid in the spread of dieses such as Chronic Wasting Disease. The benefit the deer would gain from minerals does not out way the negative effects of spreading disease throughout a deer herd.