The Basics of Mineral Sites

By Matt Harper

“Simply open and pour on the ground” are the instructions you will find on many deer mineral products on the market today. Have you ever tried doing exactly that? Did you have success? My guess is that if I asked 100 people these questions, the answers would be mixed at best, and even the ones who had some success don’t realize with a bit more thought and planning, their mineral sites would be far more productive. 

The first step in creating a successful mineral site is to choose a mineral  product that will accomplish the goals in your management plan. First you need to differentiate between a mineral product and an attractant. While attractants bring deer to a specific spot, that is most often all they do — attract. A properly designed deer mineral will not only attract deer but provide them with both macro and micro-minerals, as well as critical vitamins. These are the critical nutrients that improve antler growth, doe lactation, fawn growth and improve overall herd production. After selecting the appropriate product, your next step is site selection. First, don’t hide the mineral site from the deer. What I mean by that is to locate your mineral sites in areas that deer frequent. I try to find deer trail intersections where two or more trails bisect each other. I won’t just create the site right on the trail as I do not want to do anything that will cause deer to change their trail movement patterns. Instead, move four to six feet off the trail to create the mineral site. Also, the site needs to be located in an area that you want deer to frequent. If the mineral site is working, visiting the site will become part of their routine, so I would rather have a mineral site deeper into my property than close to a neighboring fence line. Keep in mind that you will be frequenting the spot to check trail cameras, replenish the site etc., so avoid creating sites in bedding areas and focus on travel corridors. Finally, sites should be located inside of cover where deer feel comfortable instead of open areas. One of the most vulnerable times for a deer is when it is eating, so you don’t want to create a situation where deer shy away from a mineral site because they do not feel comfortable.

Another recommendation, especially when beginning a mineral program, is to try multiple sites. Depending on the deer population I recommend one site per 40 acres, but to begin with, I would create maybe three or four in 40 acres. Even with good planning and good site selection, there are some locations where deer simply will not use a mineral site. So by applying a small amount of mineral in three to four locations, you will allow the deer to tell you which spots they prefer. After a period of time, replenish the site that is used the most and abandon the others. Once a site is well established I will put 20 pounds or more down to decrease the frequency in which I return to replenish the site. Also, I normally err on the side of creating more mineral sites as opposed to having fewer sites. More sites mean less competition for your herd.