10 Things To Know Before You Refill Your Supply Of Mineral Blocks and Licks
Mineral blocks and licks can be effective tools for attracting deer to your hunting area and keeping them there during deer season
White-tailed deer, like many other hooved mammals, crave salt and other minerals. That’s why many hunters use mineral blocks, licks and other mineral-based attractants as part of their hunting plans, and why so many manufacturers make such products specifically for hunters. However, using mineral blocks and licks to attract deer to your area and hold them isn’t as simple as just tossing out a salt block you bought at your nearby farm store. When shopping for mineral blocks, licks and other attractants, consider 10 types of mineral blocks and related products that can attract big bucks to your hunting area—and keep them there. (Check local regulations in your hunting area, since use of minerals might be considered baiting in some areas and some states don’t allow the practice.)
Block are one of the most popular types of mineral attractants available for deer hunters. Blocks can range from simple salt blocks—generally somewhat effective at drawing deer—to a mixture of salt, other minerals and flavors that some deer have a hard time resisting. Most mineral blocks made specifically for deer contain a large amount of salt, along with the various other minerals in different amounts. Many also include flavorings to make them even more attractive to deer. Some blocks are even disguised as rocks or logs in order to avoid alerting other hunters that they are in your hotspot when they pass through. Since salt and other minerals are healthy for deer and necessary ingredients in their diet, providing blocks also does your local deer herd a service.
Along with blocks, minerals and mineral-based attractants also are available in granule form. These are handy for sprinkling heavily over an area of ground and working into the soil to form a licking area that deer will visit frequently. Along with minerals, many also contain favored deer food or deer food flavors like acorns. Once a lick has been established with granules, deer will sometimes visit the place to paw and lick at it until it looks like wild hogs have rooted up the ground. Like other minerals, try a few in your area to determine which are the most effective and which flavors attract the most deer. Success is likely to vary from region to region, depending on what the primary food sources are in a particular area.
Like granules, powders are used to create lick sites that will attract deer and bring them back often. Since powders are easy to mix into the dirt, a lick site can be set up quite quickly with them and can be easily refreshed simply by adding more powder when the lick’s effectiveness diminishes. Note that sometimes it might take deer a few days to find your lick, and it might take them a few visits before they decide they need to visit every day. So, there’s more to using mineral attractant powders than simply dumping a bag on the ground and going on your way. Powders, like attractants, provide much needed minerals so actually contribute to your deer herd’s nutrition in the long run.
The effectiveness of granules and powder can’t be argued, but most need some liquid added to help them leach into the ground and begin forming a good deer lick. For those who don’t want to wait for rain to do it, pouring some water over your powder or granules can work. Many companies make products solely for this purpose that not only help activate the lick sight but also add extra minerals or flavor to the mix. Activator liquids can be used on old sites that need to be sweetened up a little, or poured over powders or granules when making a new site. Many can also be used by themselves, if you don’t have any powder or granules available. As with most such products, they come in a wide variety of mixtures and flavors.
Many minerals and attractants also come in easy-to-use liquid form. These can be poured straight onto the ground and massaged in to form a lick, or can be used in conjunction with powders and granules to do the same. A combination of liquid attractant and granules or powder actually provides the easiest and quickest method for making a good deer lick. Scatter the powder on the ground, work it in a little with a stick or your foot, then pour the liquid over the top. That’s all it takes. Note that liquid attractants can be somewhat heavy to carry around in the woods when compared to granules and powders. But since they are liquid, they don’t require a liquid to be poured over them for activation.
Mineral and attractant gels work a lot like liquid but can be even more versatile. Hunters can pour them on the ground and work them into the soil, or pour them over powdered or granule-type mineral attractants. The versatility comes because you can also pour them on downed logs or old tree stumps, turning those areas into instant deer attractors. Pouring them on a number of objects around your stand site makes the area even more attractive. Many gels have a very strong aroma, so deer passing nearby can smell them and come over to investigate. Their extra strong flavor does the rest, convincing deer that they need to check out the site any time they are in the area.
Some crushed and juiced attractants are as much food as mineral, so might fall under the category of baiting in some jurisdictions. So as mentioned earlier, check your local regulations. That said, they can be extremely effective for late-season deer that have made it through the rut and want nothing more than to fill their bellies in preparation for winter. Many are mineral-based with strong flavor like beets, apples or acorn. Because they are crushed, they give off lots of fragrance, making it hard for a whitetail passing by to ignore. Some use the powder of real vegetables to appeal to deer’s love for those vegetables and keep them coming back time after time.
The variety of flavors used in deer mineral blocks and attractants is nearly unending. Of course, a simple salt block just tastes like salt, and deer like that a lot. But manufacturers have added any number of other flavors to mineral attractants to make them even more attractive to deer. Flavors like apple, berry, acorn and others tend to sweeten the pot a little for those deer that seem to have a sweet tooth. And don’t think some deer don’t have a sweet tooth. Just check your trail cam pictures and you’ll likely notice one or two deer visit your attractant over and over, far more often than others. For flavors, find out what the deer in your area like best through experimentation, then stick with that preferred flavor for upcoming seasons.
Non-mineral supplements can also draw deer into your area and keep them there during the hunting season. These are mostly of the bait category, but provide foods that deer like so much they’re likely to return again and again, increasing your chances of a successful hunt. Most such supplements are simply scattered in small piles around a hunter’s stand to try to get deer to come within shooting distance. But they can also be used when you are not hunting to draw more deer into your area and to keep them close for the next time you return. Others can be used in conjunction with attractant minerals to make them even more nutritious—and more attractive to deer.
Food additives are made to attract even more deer to an area where you are already running a feeder. Most people who feed deer for hunting purposes use dry, whole-kernel corn through a motorized deer feeder. And while nearly all deer love corn, there are some things you can add to it to make it even more attractive to them. Such additives can also add additional nutritional value to corn, which doesn’t provide everything deer need in a healthy diet. Food additive attractants come in many different flavors, and mostly are in powdered form, since liquid added to corn in a feeder is a recipe for disaster, since it not only causes mold to form, but leads to corn clumping so it won’t feed properly onto the feeder’s spinner plate.
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