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Mineral Licks for Deer

Mineral Licks for Whitetail Deer

As a whitetail deer outfitter for the past 13 years in the Midwestern United States, my primary goal is making sure whitetail deer hunters are placed within weapon range of trophy bucks. However to do so is my job to make sure our land tracts and outfitting service is providing that correct habitat, food sources, water supplies, and mineral licks for deer in order for them to reach their full potential. I hear a lot a big talk about food plots, and here at IMB outfitters we do put out food plots. However food plots are often over rated. You must remember in the states that are in the Midwest around 40% of all land holds agricultural crops that provide a steady diet of food for the whitetail deer herd. Thus when one puts in a food plot for whitetail deer it’s almost like putting a gumball machine in a candy store. With so many different agricultural fields for the deer to feed from often times food plots are over rated. In fact during 2009 our business spent well over $20,000 on food plots, however these same food plots produced only three trophy buck harvests. Hard to believe but true.

I have found over the many years I have outfitted for whitetail deer that trophy bucks are more in need of the minerals which come from salt and vitamin based products which we used to form mineral licks for deer. Within the world of economics there is a term often referred to as supply and demand. As I’m sure you know in a nutshell this man’s something that has a high demand but a low supply cost more money. Thus it is in the whitetail world. While there are many different kinds of food sources that whitetail deer can choose from, a mineral lick for whitetail deer is in low supply because it is under estimated as a need for the whitetail deer by hunters across the United States. Within the state of Missouri alone our business has over 100 mineral licks sites. These mineral licks for deer serve a variety of needs. Natural mineral licks for whitetail deer are uncommon thus successful quality deer management programs should have strong emphasis on mineral licks.

After a thorough study of our records we have discovered 49% of the bucks our hunters harvest score over 150 inches. In fact stats break down as follows on bucks harvested with IMB Outfitters
160 inches to 200 inches 19%
150 inches to 160 inches 30%
140 inches to 150 inches 29%
130 inches to 140 inches 20%
125 inches to 130 inches 2%

Prior to going into information surrounding mineral licks for deer let us look at the state laws that govern the usage of them within the Midwestern United States.

Missouri Deer Hunting

Scents and minerals, including salt, are not considered bait, however, mineral blocks with food additives are prohibited. An area is considered baited for 10 days even after complete removal of the bait. It is illegal to place bait in a way that causes others to be in violation of the baiting rule. Thus as you can see in the State of Missouri mineral licks are legal with some limitations.

Illinois Deer Hunting

No mineral or salt licks are legal in Illinois even if you are not hunting over them. They are prohibited and against the law.

Iowa Deer Hunting

“Bait” means grain, fruit, vegetables, nuts, hay, salt, mineral blocks, or any other natural food materials, commercial products containing natural food materials, or by-products of such materials transported to or placed in an area for the purpose of
attracting wildlife. Bait does not include food placed during normal agricultural activities. In a nutshell if the state of Iowa allows mineral licks to be placed on farms however no hunting can be done around the mineral licks at all. Inside sources at the Iowa Dept of natural resources indicate a law will soon be passed making mineral licks illegal within the state of Iowa.

Kansas Deer Hunting
Baiting as well as mineral licks for deer are legal in Kansas.

Wisconsin Deer Hunting

Wisconsin just flat out has some crazy laws. For example, did you know it’s illegal for any non resident to have an outfitting service there? Sounds like a violation of one’s constitutional rights. The mineral licks for deer and baiting law are equally complex. It seems one half of the State of Wisconsin allows mineral licks and baiting while the other half of the State does not. Here is the information regarding mineral licks for deer and baiting in Wisconsin. Counties where baiting is NOT allowed Placing bait for hunting purposes is prohibited in the following counties:

Adams, Calumet, Columbia, Crawford, Dane, Dodge, Grant, Green, Iowa, Jefferson, Juneau, Kenosha, Lafayette, Manitowoc, Marathon, Marquette, Milwaukee, Portage, Racine, Richland, Rock, Sauk, Sheboygan, Vernon, Walworth, Waukesha, Waushara and Wood Counties. In these counties, no person may place, use or hunt over bait or feed material for the purpose of hunting deer. Note: It is not legal to feed deer, even for recreational viewing
purposes, in counties where baiting deer is prohibited.
Scents: Scent may be used for hunting deer statewide, but the scent may not be placed or deposited in a manner that it is accessible for consumption by deer, and scents shall be removed daily at the end of hunting hours. However, two ounces or less of scent may be placed, used or deposited in any manner for hunting deer and does not need to be removed daily at the end of hunting hours. Natural Vegetation and Plantings: You may hunt with the aid of material deposited by natural vegetation or material found solely as a result of normal agricultural or gardening practices, or with the aid of crops planted and left standing as wildlife food plots.

Counties where baiting deer is allowed In the remainder of the state (except for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lands), baiting for deer hunting purposes is allowed only under the following conditions: Amount: Each hunter may place up to 2 gallons of bait for each property under the same ownership regardless of the size of the property. If the property is larger than 40 acres, then each hunter may place an additional 2 gallons of bait for each additional full 40 acres of contiguous land under the same ownership if the bait sites are at least 100 yards away from any other bait site (parcels of land that do not touch but are separated only by a town, county or state highway are considered contiguous). Note: Bait may be spread out or divided into more than one pile as long as the total amount of bait or feed material is not more than 2 gallons per 40 acres or less. Placement: No person may: Place a baiting site closer than 100 yards of another baiting site. Hunt within 100 yards of more than 2 gallons of bait on the same parcel of land.
Place a baiting site within 50 yards of any trail, road, or campsite used by the public, or within 100 yards from a roadway having a posted speed limit of 45 mph or more.
Note: Removal of unlawfully placed bait or feed material does not preclude the issuance of a citation for the original placement of the unlawful baiting or feeding material.
Timing: No person may: Place, use or hunt over bait or feed for hunting purposes during the closed season for hunting deer, but may start to place bait for deer hunting the day before the opening day of the first deer hunting season, which is the archery season. This means the 24-hour period from 12:00 am to 11:59 pm on the day immediately
before the season.
Hunt over bait or a feeding site that is in violation of these regulations, unless the area is completely free of bait or feed material for at least 10 consecutive days prior to hunting, pursuing animals or dog training. Content: No person may place, use or hunt over any bait or feed material that: • Contains any animal part or animal by-product. Note: Animal parts and by-products include honey, bones, fish, meat, solid animal fat, animal carcasses, or parts of animal carcasses but does not include liquid scents.

Is contained in or deposited by a feeder that is designed to deposit or replenish feed automatically, mechanically, or by gravity. • Contains or is contained within, metal, paper, plastic, glass, wood or other similar processed materials. This does not apply to scent materials. License: No person may use or hunt over bait or feed material placed for deer.

Ohio Deer Hunting Mineral Licks are Legal

Two differing opinions are present surrounding the placement of mineral licks for deer hunting. One opinion is that whitetail deer produce bigger antlers quicker and that the whitetail deer herd remains healthier when minerals are provided to them. The opposing opinion surrounding mineral licks for deer hunting is that in a state which have chronics wastings disease any mineral lick can be the very place where the disease is spread from animal to the animal.

My belief is that chronics wastings disease among whitetail deer happens on rare occasion and because of a major outbreak in Wisconsin hunters across the nation panicked wondering if whitetail deer would vanish at the hands of CWD. I find this belief to be a bit over reactive. The truth his mother nature simply has ways of taking care of overpopulation of any animal.

I am of the belief that mineral licks for deer not only make the herd healthier, but vastly enhance the speed of which a whitetail buck rack grows, and provides a healthier deer whether it be a buck or doe. Just like human beings taking vitamin supplements it would only make sense that when whitetail enthusiast place additional minerals unto the availability of the whitetail deer the result would be improved health, fawn enhancement production, larger racks growing at a faster speed, and an overall whitetail deer herd that is more equipped to withstand harsh environmental conditions. In states where it is legal to implement mineral licks for whitetail deer we have seen mineral sites that literally were so large because of deer usage that it appeared as if to a hand grenade had been thrown. It is that these mineral licks our hunters had been able to take far more trophy whitetail deer than over expensive food plots. For those that don’t believe mineral licks are more effective than food plots simply travel to our trail cam pics page at and you will see hundreds of photos of huge bucks caught on camera partaking from a mineral lick.

The calling card in most deer minerals is sodium, but most companies put other minerals in their products that can help a bucks' rack grow. In most areas, whitetail deer can obtain most of their dietary requirements with the exception of sodium (Na) in most habitats. Whitetail deer and other herbivores require sodium for regulation of fluid volume and blood pressure; maintenance of osmotic balances and buffer systems and conduction of nerve impulses. Sodium is not readily available in the plant materials they consume since most plants don't require sodium. Therefore, deer actively seek sources of sodium. This salt drive is highest in deer during the spring and summer. The amount of water and potassium in the diet impacts the ability of the deer to retain sufficient sodium for metabolic needs.

During the spring, deer consume many plants that contain exceptionally high levels of water and potassium, causing a temporary sodium imbalance, resulting in development of the salt drive and the amazing results and activity we see at our deer mineral stations throughout our food plots. Research has shown that antler mineralization in whitetail deer reaches its peak during the late summer when sodium drive in bucks is strong. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that providing supplemental sodium and deer minerals during this time can be beneficial to deer.

In most areas, deer seldom move more than one mile for salt minerals. Providing a supplemental source of sodium mineral stations like salt blocks won't likely alter deer distribution to a great extent. However, it may attract deer from the local area (about 2 to 3 miles) to a specific site. However a group of mineral licks for deer in a given area will keep them in that area and keep them healthy.

Much of Illinois, Kansas, and Iowa have soil that is rich in minerals which is part of the reason bucks that live in these states often grow large racks. In areas of the country that don't have great soil and high mineral content, bucks often have smaller racks. Dr. David Samuel, a noted deer biologist, says feeding deer minerals makes sense. "Feeding deer minerals that they lack in their natural diet can only help them," Samuel said.

Opinions vary across the whitetail deer industry in regard to whether mineral licks for deer enhance the antler growth. I can absolutely tell you without a doubt that after 13 years of outfitting in five states that I have literally watched quality deer management programs inclusive of mineral licks for deer turn an average land tract into a great land tract within 2 to 3 years. There’s also no doubt mineral licks for deer are great attractant. As aforementioned we have a mineral licks in the state of Missouri and Kansas that are literally as large as the bed of a pickup truck and 3 feet deep into the ground because of whitetail deer pawing at the minerals and consuming them for their nutritional needs.

Mineral licks for whitetail deer hunting serve as one of the greatest attractants I have ever seen. Mineral licks need to be placed about a property with my suggestion of one mineral lick for every 30 acres of ground if you wanna drag the neighbors whitetail herd over onto your place. Oh yeah. Believe me, I have literally lured the entire herd to inhabit our side of an entire river bottom because the whitetail herd flat out knew that on our side they could find the same food, the same water, but held all the mineral licks for deer they wanted. Think about it. It only makes sense. I’m literally offering an abundance of a need the area’s whitetail herd doesn’t have an abundance of because the modern day whitetail enthusiastic is still wondering if mineral licks actually work. While they are wondering we will continue to kill monster deer and raise them faster.

If you want some flat out slang, “We feed our boys (bucks) what they need to grow big horns.” Each year we freshen the mineral licks religiously no matter the cost. The mineral licks are so very vital to antler nutrition, and good health. Believe me it is true. In fact out the 10 biggest deer we have ever killed in the history of our outfitting business, 7 of them were harvested within 75 yards of a mineral lick for deer. Like the Old Kevin Costner Movie, Field of Dreams, says, “If you build them, they will come.”

The whitetails desire to use the mineral licks does show us that there is some need. Unlike humans who would like to live on junk food, animals usually are attracted to what is most nutritious for them. Mineral supplements can be considered a vital part of your deer management plan.Over the years we have tried a few different products including white salt blocks, trace mineral salt blocks, bags of minerals from Tractor Supply, Whitetail Institute 30-06 (the same people that make Imperial Whitetail Clover), Deer Cane, Mossy Oak Biologic Full Potential, Antler King and Hunter’s Specialties Vita Rack minerals. Which one of these performed the best I do not know but the holes keep getting deeper no matter what I put out. Remember deer will dig a hole if only salt is put out.

It is my opinion that I will stick with mineral supplements made specifically for whitetail deer. The salt blocks made for livestock do not have the quantities of minerals needed by deer. Nutritional specialists have found that calcium and phosphorus account for 33 percent of hardened antler and that antlers are about 55 percent mineral. Does also require higher amounts of minerals for milk production and several other minerals are needed in a deer’s diet as well.


Sorry but I tell the truth and my experience with mineral licks for deer that are effective are the mineral supplements that mineral based with a salt attractant. I’m truly not into these carmel dick suckers, or molasses stump liquids, the mashed sugar beet dust, but rather the basic and old school salt based mineral licks for deer that I see time and time again dug down into the ground many feet and relentlessly hit over and over by the whitetail herd. In fact if your financially challenged there are a few recipes for mineral licks for whitetail deer that are cheaper than commercial products.

Of course I’m sure you think this article is a precursor to me promoting some major mineral lick company, however it is not. In fact prior to introducing you to different products I will provide you with a home recipe for mineral licks so you can save some money if you would like.

To begin, you will need to go to your local feed store and purchase three bags of ingredients Stock Salt, Trace Mineral, and Di-Calcium Phosphate. All can be purchased in "loose" or granulated forms in 50-pound bags. You will need two bags of trace mineral and one bag each of Di-Calcium Phosphate and Stock Salt. Make certain you keep all three ingredients separate until ready to use.

Once you've decided on a location to start your mineral lick, preferably a site where deer frequent already, you can begin to mix your ingredients in a large bucket, wheel barrow or trash can. Use a 3-pound coffee can to measure each of the ingredients.

However, there have been times when I've had to pinch pennies and making my own basic mineral supplement was all that I could do to help the deer where I hunted. Basic is the key to this mineral supplement recipe but it does include some key ingredients that not only will help the health of the deer population in your area, it will attract them too.

To begin, you will need to go to your local feed store and purchase three bags of ingredients Stock Salt, Trace Mineral, and Di-Calcium Phosphate. All can be purchased in "loose" or granulated forms in 50-pound bags. You will need two bags of trace mineral and one bag each of Di-Calcium Phosphate and Stock Salt. Make certain you keep all three ingredients separate until ready to use.

Once you've decided on a location to start your mineral lick, preferably a site where deer frequent already, you can begin to mix your ingredients in a large bucket, wheel barrow or trash can. Use a 3-pound coffee can to measure each of the ingredients.

Take two, 3-pound cans of Di-Calcium Phosphate, two 3-pound cans of stock salt, and four 3-pound cans of trace mineral and mix the ingredients together with a shovel or other garden tool. Make certain the ingredients are mixed well. This formula will give you 24-pounds of mineral to put into the ground the first time you make your lick. You can cut this recipe in half to freshen your mineral lick every three to six months.

At your predetermined site, dig a whole large enough to accommodate the 24-pounds of mineral mix you prepared plus the dirt you removed from the hole. Mix the mineral mix and the dirt together and fill the hole. This will take a little effort but will make your mineral lick much more effective than if you just dumped it into the hole and left the dirt out. Wait for a couple of good rains before you go back to check your new mineral lick.

It shouldn't take long before the deer begin utilizing your efforts. Before you know it they will be digging out the hole you made. Over time, I've had mineral licks large enough to drive and park an ATV in. Your four bags of ingredients will make 200-pounds of basic mineral supplement and the total cost of all three ingredients should be under $25 in most parts of Missouri.


Deer Cane
My favorite product and normally the only one we use because we have such great results with it is “Deer Cane” from Evolved Habitats. Next year I plan on experimenting with some other products such as this one but for now if I had to name the greatest mineral lick product for deer it would be “Deer Cane”. Despite the instructions of the product I always buy the concentrate powder form and clear a 4 foot by 4 foot area down to the dirt and simply pour out the granulated “Deer Cane” into the hole, and let the next rain take it down into the earth. For this is the highest concentrated form and will be the longest lasting and most potent. The product is described as follows. Deer Cane is a beneficial mineral supplement that attracts deer by releasing a mineral vapor trail. After initial application, moisture will cause these minerals to keep reacting and attracting deer. Bucks seeking minerals for overall health and rack development will be drawn to the site to lick, paw, mark and consume the minerals. Bucks will want to protect the Deer Cane site by rubbing, scraping and rolling in the mineral site to mark it as their own. The buck’s action will naturally lead to the attraction of more deer. Over time, a large deer wallow will be created as many deer develop the habit of frequenting the site to consume the beneficial minerals.

Antler King Mineral
TROPHY DEER MINERAL contains 27 different antler building minerals, vitamins and additives. TROPHY DEER MINERAL also contains a special yeast culture which allows the deer to better utilize and easily absorb the minerals and vitamins. The result is more minerals into antler and body development. TROPHY DEER MINERAL is best used when poured on the ground near a deer trail. Greatest consumption is from February to September. TROPHY DEER MINERAL is available in 20lb. bags.

Whitetail Institute 30-06

Like humans, a deer's available diet seldom supplies all the minerals, vitamins, and protein necessary for maximum good health and growth. While Imperial Clover, ALFA-RACK and NO-PLOW Wildlife Seed Blend provide a tremendous amount of antler-growing protein on a year-round basis, other minerals and vitamins may be unavailable. That is why, again like humans, it is beneficial for deer to have available a mineral and vitamin supplement on a daily basis. And that is what Imperial Whitetail 30-06 supplements provide.

They have been scientifically developed after years of observation by wildlife biologist, veterinarians and field testers for the Whitetail Institute of North America. Regardless of any mineral or vitamin deficiency in your particular habitat, Imperial 30-06 formulas provide all the principal elements your wild herd could possibly need. The PLUS PROTEIN formula provides a 10% protein boost as well.

Mossy Oak Biologic Full Potential

BioLogic’s Full Potential is a scientifically formulated blend of minerals and vitamins that are critical to massive antler development and herd health — ingredients that are deficient or missing entirely in most habitats. Full Potential is used in three easy steps and delivers vital nutrients during early spring and summer when your herd needs it the most. Available in an easy to use 16 lb. size.
For best results, place one Full Potential mineral supplement close to every food plot, or at least one per every 80 acres of habitat.

Hunter Specialties Vita Rack

I love Hunter Specialty Products but I didn’t really have much luck with Vita Rack. While it has possibly more minerals and vitamins than any other mineral lick for deer on the market, the product hasn’t attracted as well for us. However this perhaps has been upgraded since we last used it. The Vita-Rack® 26 Lick Site contains 26 high quality vitamins and minerals essential to helping whitetails reach their full potential. This patented nutritional system provides year-round nutrition and creates bigger, healthier deer. It helps control ticks, which assists deer in maintaining a healthier immune system. The calcium and phosphorus in Vita-Rack 26 support bone and antler development. The granular mixture digests quickly and will bring deer back again and again.


I like to find a location near a good deer travel route that is somewhat secluded so whitetails can work the mineral lick for deer and feel safe feeding from the site. I always place the mineral licks for whitetail deer inside the timber. I will work up the soil, in a circle that is about 4 feet by 4 feet, and always use straight granulated powder. I never mix with water and dilute the mineral. I know the rain will take care of this aspect of it. You will find that the mineral licks for deer when made in this manner will be much more potent. Afterall when you buy minerals in liquid form your buying water instead of mineral. Trust me and use this method. It will save you money and be more effective. Then mix the supplement with the soil. The deer will eat both the mix and the soil, after a few weeks the deer will have a hole dug trying to get every bit.

When refreshing a mineral lick it should be done every year. You should refresh it in May in the Midwest United States and if you desire and can afford it, redo it in July. If you want bigger, healthier deer make a Mineral Lick that is effective. Trust me and believe you don’t need to be refreshing these sites 3 to 5 times a year. That statement is a marketing ploy from mineral companies to get you to buy more and more mineral supplement that you really don’t need. (Know that ought to make somebody mad out there, but it’s the truth.) We have done study after study on these products for 13 years.

In regard to hunting mineral licks for deer I can tell you that you don’t want to “hover” over them, or hunt too close to them. Deer come in to feed on mineral licks and are very aware of their surrounding when doing so. Stay off the lick at least 30 yards for archery hunting and be well hidden. While firearms hunting stay even further away. Remember does will use the mineral licks as much as the bucks will. During the rut a mineral lick can bring in the very doe that has the Boone and Crockett buck following her. Mineral licks when implemented correctly can produce big results.

Darrin Bradley

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