Minerals are the building blocks deer require for growth. Deer skeletons serve as “banks” for bone-building minerals like calcium and phosphorus. Early in life, mineral intake contributes directly to skeletal development. Once the skeletal system has fully matured (typically around 4-5 years), the amount of minerals available for antler development increases drastically.
This is why mature bucks grow bigger antlers faster. Antler is some of the fastest growing bone on earth, with some bucks able to grow 200 inches of antler in 90 days. Fast growth is especially necessary since deer drop their antlers and regenerate a new set annually.
Deer depend on diet for the minerals they need to build bone. Left alone, this is achieved through native browse consumption. However, most U.S. soils are deficient of many minerals vital to overall deer health. This often prevents deer from fully achieving their genetic potential, which is where mineral sites can play a crucial role.
- Maximize overall herd health
- Grow bigger antlers faster
- Aid gestation/milk production
- Increase number of successful births
- Boost immune system to resist disease
- Increase body mass
- Calcium: Milk production, bone/teeth/antler formation and improved nerve/muscle functionality
- Phosphorus: Bone/teeth/antler formation and milk production
- Magnesium: Normal skeletal development, enzyme systems and digestion
- Sodium: Body fluid regulation, digestive juice creation and muscle contraction
- Potassium: Muscle formation, electrolyte balance and nerve impulses
- Vitamin K: Bone density growth and blood coagulation
Mineral Site Prep and Maintenance
*Be sure to follow all state and local laws regarding the use of minerals in your area.
Selecting a Mineral Site
Look for high traffic areas: corridors between food and bedding areas, active deer trails, natural funnels and feeding areas. Place sites 8-10 feet off an active trail with natural cover – easily located without being intrusive and safe enough for deer to visit frequently. The perfect location has a nearby water source and will naturally retain a bit more moisture than the surrounding area. Rotting stumps or logs make excellent locations because they work like a sponge to soak up and retain minerals.
Establishing a Mineral Site
Remove all vegetation from the area in a 4-6 foot diameter. Loosen the soil with a rake and make a slight depression to hold some rainfall and impede runoff. If using a bagged mix, spread the entire contents over the site area. Liquid formulas can be poured directly on the ground, over decaying stumps/logs or mixed with feeds and grain. For bricks, simply rest on the ground or a stump. Do not cover with dirt, leaves or debris.
Number of Mineral Sites
The appropriate number of mineral sites depends on 1) the availability of quality forage in the area and 2) population density. As a rule of thumb, one mineral site for every 75-100 acres of land will supplement an average deer population. If you’re unable to create multiple locations, elongate an existing site from the recommended 6-foot diameter to 8-10 feet.
Maintaining a Mineral Site
Minerals can remain active for up to a year after initial application depending on soil content, rainfall and deer activity. However, maintenance is critical to keep a site active with regular traffic. For optimal results, refresh mineral sites every 45-60 days.