How to Make A Deer Mineral Lick

mineral trophy rockRight now, from late winter through spring, is the time to establish a mineral lick for deer.

“Although deer only need very small quantities of trace minerals to express their full antler growth potential, without them in their diet, they simply can’t express their full genetic potential,” says whitetail scientist Grant Woods. Also, minerals provide a power boost for lactating does and the fetal development of fawns.

Here’s how to make a lick:

Deer will find your salt and minerals anywhere you put them out, but to maximize your efforts, look for a quiet spot on an oak ridge or in a creek bottom. A corner of a field or food plot is a good spot so long as it is hidden from view and away from foot and vehicle traffic.

I like to put a lick on an edge of cover where bucks hang out. A creek, pond, stock tank or other water source nearby is great because the deer can hit both the lick and the water on one trip.

Makes sense to make a lick near a well-used deer trail, where the animals can smell the salt in the minerals and veer over to hit it.

Old-school hunters used to dump minerals in a big rotten stump; we still do that if we can find a stump in the right spot, and it works.

Rake a spot 8 feet in diameter down to bare soil; rake and dig until you have a shallow depression, loosing up the dirt. Apply granulated minerals lightly and evenly over the area (don’t pile it). Rake some dirt back into the minerals and mix lightly.

If using a mineral block, set it in the middle of your cleared spot (or on a stump). I sometimes spread feed-grain salt around the block (the salt is what attracts deer).

Hang a trail camera on your mineral site so you can enjoy the deer and other wildlife that come to visit.

Check your minerals every month or so and replenish as needed. Swap out your camera cards each time you check the licks. Keep the “lick cam” running all summer and into the fall, because some bucks will keep coming back for months to check and dig.

Illinois: Giant Shotgun Buck, 185 Inches!

IL Daniel 1

Hey Mike: I love checking out your site and reading about big bucks. You featured my brother, Daniel, and I couple of years back when we teamed up on a 176-inch 13-point buck during the Illinois shotgun season. I’ve got another story for you from the first Illinois gun season 2014 in Adams County.

 

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We had been watching this buck for 4 years. The first picture we ever got of him, we guessed him to be a 3.5-year-old 10-pointer. The next year he put on some inches and had long G-2s and G-3s but short G-4s. We had never actually seen this buck in the woods, and we hadn’t gotten any hard-horn pictures of him.

In 2013 the buck really blew up in size and added some stickers to his rack. We knew the deer was something special, but we were not very optimistic about seeing him while hunting, since we had never gotten any pictures of him in the fall. Again, all the trail-cam pictures we had of the buck were in velvet, and we figured this was just his summer range. IL daniel 3

But one day in late November that year, I rattled and grunted and he came in downwind of me. But he presented no shot, and we never saw him again. We finally did get a hard-horned picture of him that fall, and he was huge.  We guessed him to be in the 180s.

We searched long and hard last spring for his horns, and Daniel finally happened across one side of his rack.  He was super excited. It measured right at 85 inches, the biggest shed we’d ever found.  A friend of Daniel’s nicknamed the buck Batman because he said the points off the rack’s G-2 looked like Batman’s sleeve, lol.

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My dad, Daniel and I knew we had to hunt this deer hard and try something different. Daniel found the shed only a couple hundred yards away from where I saw the buck that one time in 2013, and where we always got summer pictures of him.  We were starting to figure out his range, but it was a hard place to hunt–a deep, long ditch with a few fingers that ran through some crop fields and cow pastures. We scouted and scouted. There was only one tree suitable for a stand and it wasn’t very good, but we put a stand in it anyway.

The summer of 2014 came and went with no pictures of Batman, and we were a little

discouraged. But we figured that if he was still around, he would still be in this area.  My brother bowhunted that stand in the lone tree a few times during the rut and saw a few deer, but nothing  special. He planned to hunt it again during the first gun season because the farmer on the land was going to move his cows around on opening day, and that might have the deer moving.

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Wouldn’t you know it, at 9:30 a.m. that morning Batman came out of a thick bedding area and chased a doe right by the tree stand! The buck was about 80 yards away when Daniel put a slug through the buck’s shoulders and dropped him instantly.

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Man, the phone calls were ringing that morning between me, my brother and dad. This is the biggest buck anyone in our family has ever killed. Daniel shot Batman a mere 100 yards from where he found his shed last spring, and very close to where he and I had doubled-teamed the 176-incher a few years back. It was so awesome and my dad and I couldn’t have been prouder of Daniel.

Batman’s rack has 13-inch G-2s and G-3s and grosses 185 inches. We figured he was 7.5 years old.  I hope you enjoyed another story from us.

–Thanks, Alex Ippensen

VA Bucks: Bow Seasons Opens Oct.4

 

VA 2014 jack great cam

A buddy sent me this cam pic awhile back w/the message: Out of velvet, it’s go time!

This is a great, mature buck for our part of the country (hell, any part of the country) and I hope my friend gets a crack at him. Also on the eve of the archery opener, would like to wish all my fellow Virginia hunters a safe and successful year. Of course I wish the same thing for all you other guys, but gotta give some special props to my boys all over the Commonwealth.

Hunting will be good to great in most areas of the state. We’ve got acorns this year (none in 2013) so the bucks will be fat, though not as visible in numbers as last year. When there is a good crop of acorns falling in the woods, deer hang back and feed and stage in the cover of trees, and are not as visible in fields in daylight hours. Wherever you hunt, remember that and plan your stands and strategy accordingly.

Top Spot for a Trail Camera

IL steve monster cam 2010

In the book Deer Cameras: The Science of Scouting, Wisconsin bowhunter and QDMA member Todd Reabe reveals where he gets amazing daytime photos of monster bucks on his small, well-managed property. And day images are what you want, because that shows when and where you might arrow a whopper when he’s on his feet in shooting light.

Todd stays away from field edges and instead aims his cameras into hidden pockets and strips of security cover. “Small funnels and bottlenecks of thick cover between feeding and bedding areas are the best spots for my cams,” he says.

Look for these secret cam hotspots on aerial photos and then go in, ground scout and hang your cameras for images of big deer.

Trail-Cam: More Great Bucks!

cam kevin 1

cam kevin 2

A group of fellow Virginia hunters in the southern part of the state is practicing quality management and growing some big deer. This year they’ve added a few more food plots and gone heavy on corn plots to mix it up. They have some studs on the farm this year, including the two great 8-pointers above. The top buck is “Junior,” now fully mature at 4/5 years old. The guys say: “Thank God for passing hunting on Sunday in Virginia! Should be a special year here…”

cam cody

Here’s a buck one of our bloggers in the Midwest is looking forward to seeing to this fall. He asked for thoughts on age and score. Hard to tell in camera photos sometimes, but looks like a 3/4-year-old 140-class buck w/really nice brows. What do you think?

Keep the trail camera photos coming, bucks are looking good!