Why Deer Love Mineral Licks After a Rain

mineralsThe smart deer hunter is always observing: Why do most of the bucks travel E-W in a patch of woods…why do does and fawns like a particular corner of a plot…why do deer flock to mineral licks after a heavy rain?

We’ve had a lot of heavy rain this summer, and an hour or so after each rain ends (no matter the time of day) my Spartan Camera app blows up with images of deer with their heads stuck in water-filled mineral holes. Must be something to it, so I reached out to biologists and mineral experts, most of whom had observed the same thing.

While we’re not sure why this occurs, we theorize that heavy rain roils a mineral site, pulling certain minerals off the soil and suspending them in water, where deer can “lick” them easily. As the water recedes, suspended minerals settle on the topsoil, again easily consumed by the deer. Water also causes leaching of the minerals, and perhaps that’s a factor.

Anyhow, check your cameras after a rain and see what you’ve got.

#1 Late-Summer Spot for a Trail Camera

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My sketch of the top spot to set your camera this weekend is very rudimentary, so let me explain.

In this case there are two cornfields (might be soybeans or alfalfa where you hunt) with a row of trees and brush about 20 yards wide, splitting and separating the fields. Within that row of trees is a flat, grassy gap where the farmer will drive his tractor between the fields in a month or so. On an old gate post in the gap is the top spot to set a camera now, while the corn is still tall and uncut.

We have 9 cameras running on the Virginia farm where this gap is located, with some cams situated on field edges, others on clover plots, others on minerals in the woods. The camera on the gate post has been the most productive by far for catching bucks on natural movement.

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First good buck showed in the gap in early July.

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Later in the month…

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Catching the big split brow rolling through the gap really got us going.

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We had a surprise traveler, going the other way from the bucks.

We’re pulling the card from the gap camera tomorrow morning, can’t wait to see who’s been by the last couple weeks.

If you know of a similar gap like this where you hunt, go set a camera there before the crops are cut and the deer movement patterns change.

Best Woods Spots For Trail Cameras

I__00278Mike: Missouri just banned all feeding and minerals, even salt, in the county that I hunt due to two cases of Chronic Wasting Disease. Seems like a dramatic ruling for just two cases, but that is the way it goes.

When I put out trail cameras now, do you think that without the attractant, deer will still visit the same places? Or am I at square one? Eighty percent of the 400-acre farm I hunt is just woods, no food plots. Any suggestions?—Marc from MO

Marc: While it seems like an overreaction, scientists across the country have increased the alarm about the threat of CWD, so we all should expect more decisions like that.

To your question, if you have used the same mineral sites for years, and deer know where they are, it wouldn’t hurt to place a camera or two on the ones where you got the best pictures in the past. Even though you’re not putting out minerals now, some bucks will remember and check the dirt in those spots as they move around the area; certainly not as much as when you had minerals out, but you might get a random picture of a good buck. Try it for a while, and if no pictures move the cams.

But for most of pre-season scouting, set your cameras in these 10 great and proven spots for the woods.

Trail-Camera Tuesday, July 2017

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This buck just showed up on a VA farm I hunt, don’t know what spooked him. Big split brow on left!

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Heavy VA buck going through that same little gap between 2 cornfields–one of best setups for a camera–gonna be a 9-pointer.

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Martin sent this top-quality image from his Spartan camera. I have begun using these cameras exclusively this summer, and am impressed, especially with the Spartan Go Cam (powered by Verizon in my case) which sends images to an app on my phone. Look for these cameras and images on BIG DEER TV.

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From one of my Spartan cameras in a secret spot, see if you can make out that buck coming in from 12 o’clock. He looks and acts like an old deer.

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Longtime blogger Scott has his eye, and camera, on a nice 8 with great brows.

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My friends Zach and Ellie have only pulled one card so far, but they are seeing some great bucks, including this pretty 10.

Setting up to be a good year from what I’m seeing! Send me you cam pictures to post, I’ll never give away your location. Your secret buck is safe with me.

 

 

 

 

 

First Trail-Camera Pictures of 2017!

The pictures are starting to roll in. Take a look and get fired up for the 2017 deer season, which will be here before you know it. Please send me your camera photos to share; I’ll never reveal the location of where your big buck is—we just want to see him and enjoy him, and dream. Plus, if we post your cam picture on the blog, we’ll send you a BIG DEER hat.

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Our friend Kim sent the pictures above. Of the 5-year-old “Splitz” (image 2) Kim reports: “last year is the first year his right antler split.”

Actually, that is pretty common. Biologists say that most whitetail bucks have non-typical genes in their blood, but splits, stickers, etc. don’t start to show until a buck matures to 4 or 5 years old.

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This VA buck from my friend’s farm seems to say, “Hey man, time to refresh the minerals!

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Jack named this 8-point buck Clubby.

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Surprise! This young bear walked past the same camera as Clubby an hour later.

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This is one of the best of 30 bucks that our friend Danny has captured on camera this summer. “I got 5,000 pictures in June alone, most of them bucks,” Danny said. Read more on this 30-buck phenomenon in a later post, once I research it a bit more.

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My buddy Tanner set his camera near his tree stand, and almost immediately a bachelor group showed up beneath it, including the big-bodied drop-tine. I hope he sticks around and Tanner gets him!

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Finally, our TV producer Justin stepped out his front door and snapped a pic of this WILD buck feeding on his Asiatic day lilies. Can you say brow tines! Come to find out, it is not uncommon for bucks to come down out of the hills and summer in the town limits.