Turkey season is over in Missouri, but deer season is only 5 months away! If you are looking for projects on your property that will allow you to be outside and improve your deer herd, consider refreshing your existing mineral licks, or start establishing them on your farm. Be sure to check your local regulations, as they are not allowed in every state. Mineral licks are legal in Missouri though and I have had tremendous success with them. The Private Land Conservationist in Lewis County, MO encouraged me to establish them back in 2007 and the results have been outstanding.
Here is the advice that was given to me by Rob Tebbs back in 2007:
“Deer start using mineral licks in January and use them until about the end of August. Does utilize the licks early in the year, due to fetal development, which increases nutrient demand. Bucks seem to start lick activity later in March, correlated to antler shed and upcoming antler development. Now is the time to get them established.
There is no conclusive evidence from research as to whether mineral supplements help bucks grow larger racks, but research has shown that antler and fetus development does require large amounts of calcium and phosphorus, and sodium is an important mineral for regulating body temperature. These elements are not always readily available in food sources, especially in low pH timber soils. I believe the development of artificial mineral licks is an important part of a QDM program. That can make these minerals more available to deer and the licks also provide great trail camera location.”
There are some great over the counter products that are ready for use. I have had good luck with Whitetail Institute. You can also mix your own. The recipe I use is 50 lbs stock salt, 50 lbs trace mineral salt, 50 lbs di-calcium phosphate, and 50 lbs Green Fescue Mineral.
The licks are easy to establish and I recommend that you locate them on ridge tops in a clay type soil. Simply rake away the leaves and dump about 30 lbs of mix at each site. The licks should not be located in the bottoms where sandy soil may occur. Minerals quickly leach away in sandy soil and deer eating in sandy soil can damage their teeth. Plan on refreshing two to three times a year.
Keep in mind that there is a distinct difference between a salt block and a mineral lick. Check the ingredients, and be sure to provide what your herd needs for does during gestation and bucks during antler development.
Just because the season is over it doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun in the great outdoors!