It’s May and bucks are starting to push antlers. It has long been debated if mineral supplements help grow bigger racks. This old plow boy applies common wisdom to the situation. Protein grows muscle (and antlers they say) and muscle is protein. Antlers are primarily calcium, so just maybe a calcium deficient diet limits antler growth.
This past week, I refreshed last year’s licks. I’m a big fan of Lucky Buck. It is simply salt and calcium with an apple fragrance that makes even me want to eat it. The deer find it in no time and can’t stay away. I have tried mixing salt with Di-Calcium Phosphate and the deer just don’t seem to like it. Bucks generally hit a salt or mineral lick from May to September and then usually the crave goes away once they go hard horned. At any rate, these licks create a great trail camera setup.
I try to locate my licks close to water and fairly close to buck bedding areas, while keeping my presence to a minimum. On this 200 acre hunting lease in Ohio, choosing those locations was pretty simple. A creek meanders through the middle of the farm with the bottom land formerly used as pasture and the balance is cropped. I really like hunting abandoned pastures because they usually offer heavy cover, funneling action, and food plot planting opportunities. I placed two mineral licks on this property, about 1/3 mile apart, and neither are more than 40 yards from the creek. In Ohio, you can hunt over them so I did place one within arrow range of a westerly wind friendly stand, just in case I have a bruiser still hitting it during daylight hours on opening day in late September.
The next plan of action will be to add another bucket to each of them around the first of July at which time I will put cameras out. Does and fawns will stay on a lick for as long as thirty minutes so make sure you have the proper setting on your cam or you will be looking at photos for hours. Try to stay away from pulling cards for 4 weeks. Often, it takes a while for mature bucks to come back to a lick after you have tended them.
I don’t know if mineral supplements grow bone, but I’m guessing it doesn’t slow antler growth. I’ve found it to be a great tool for herd management and buck identification. Besides that, the Lucky Buck bucket comes in handy to fill your sprayer tank for food plot preparation.
Good article with great theory. If nothing else other than capturing tons of pictures of the local herd it’s worth having mineral licks. But I agree I don’t see it slowing antler growth so why not have them.