GameKeepers Emag

Gamekeepers Winter 2015

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#farmingforwildlife 41 pared to sodium in their natural forage at that time. This interferes with efficient sodi- um conversion in the body and increases the need for sodium intake. Also, almost all soils located more than 25-50 miles from a seacoast are low in sodium." This need for sodium is mainly what draws deer to licks. A quality mineral mix will provide them with the vital phospho- rous and calcium they need, plus a good mix of vitamins and micro elements in the precise proportions a whitetail's physiolo- gy requires. This last point is important. It's definite- ly cheaper to buy cattle minerals, but these won't be appropriate for the needs of a whitetail deer. There will be too much of some ingredients and too little, or none of vital elements that whitetails require. A quality deer mineral mix will also have a large percentage of calcium and phospho- rous, vital ingredients for antler growth. Full Potential includes 15-16 percent calci- um, and 6 percent phosphorous—the two most prominent minerals in a deer's rack. How many Mineral Sites and where to locate them Take into consideration the size area of the land and your density when deciding how many licks to put out. As a rule, one for every 25-75 acres is best. For a 50 acre tract, one or two would suffice. On 150 acres, create two to four licks two would likely suffice for low density but four or more may be needed for a high density. First, locate an area where you've regu- larly seen deer or where there is good sign present, but not close to a road or where there's a lot of human activity. Possible locations include the edge of food plots (but back in cover), staging areas, bed-to- feed trails and funnels. Deer need to feel safe when they visit a mineral site. To make older bucks feel secure using the site, place it in an area adjacent to fairly thick cover. Austin Delano, Head of Research & Development for BioLogic, even recommends putting one site in a semi-open area for does, fawns and young bucks and another nearby lick in thicker cover for those more secretive and reclusive older bucks. Avoid wet areas, since the mineral will sink in and spread out. You want it to stay concentrated where you put it. As a rule, clay-type soils hold minerals better than sandy soils. Creating the Mineral Lick The next step is to clear away sod or weeds if they are present. Dig down four to six inches in about a two foot oval area. Mix 8-12 pounds of minerals with the dirt and then place this mixture back into the hole. I also sometimes pour a small amount right on top, to help attract deer to the site, or better yet, place a Bio Rock on top of it. You can also just pour the minerals out, but I've found deer use it better if it's mixed with the soil. BioRocks work great just simply placed out. Some wildlife managers put minerals in trays or feeders, but as a rule you'll get the best usage when they are incorporated into the soil. Avoid visiting the site too often. I like to wait two to three weeks to see if the minerals have been used and only then add more if required. Make your visits during the middle of the day, being careful not to leave any human scent behind. You certainly can get some good photos of bucks by putting trail cameras at these locations, but I have mixed feelings about this and don't use them on all my licks. I feel that some old, super-wary bucks may be discouraged from using the site regularly, either spooked by the camera or by the visits to check the camera and retrieve photos. Make your own decision on this issue on a case by case basis. Having minerals available is most important during the spring and summer during a buck's antler growing period and when does and fawns need it most. ©Gerald Almy

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