and understanding the differences between supplements and attractants By Matt Harper, Institute Deer Nutrition Specialist
wenty years ago, most hunters and land managers were not aware of the extraordinary benefits a deer herd could realize from access to quality food plots. Through time, education and experience, the importance of food plots became a well-accepted doctrine. In fact, food plots are now standard operating procedure for most management-minded deer hunters. 46
WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 17, No. 3
Many people put a mineral site in a wide-open area, such as on the edge of a food plot. Although these areas sometimes work, many times they do not. Deer are vulnerable when they stop and eat. They do not like using areas where they are outside and away from protective cover. The most effective sites are normally four to eight feet off of a heavily used trail surrounded by protective cover.
Mineral supplementation, however, is a management practice that has gained acceptance at a much slower pace. Ask most hunters and deer managers if they plant food plots, and nearly all will say they do, at least to some extent. Ask the same group whether they use mineral supplements, and many will say they are not using mineral supplements, at least not regularly. There are several reasons behind this slow rate of acceptance. First, and probably foremost, people are unaware of the difference between a nutritional mineral supplement and an attractant. Second, many folks are not educated on the benefits a true nutritional supplement can provide. Therefore, many hunters believe mineral supplements are a waste of time and that all deer minerals on the market are pure hype. Yet another reason for the lack of mineral supplementation is that often, improper mineral site application is used, producing limited or no apparent success. Whether it was put in the wrong spot, used at the wrong time or some other important step was not done correctly, the lack of success because of these errors causes a hunter to abandon the idea. Finally, the biggest cause of the lack of mineral supplementation is the confusion created by so many products. Nearly all claim nutritional benefit and unequalled attraction. Yet the differences among these products in terms of actual benefit and nutrition quality range dramatically. In
reality, this final factor is why the first three problems exist. In this article, weâ€™ll clear up some of these confusing aspects of mineral supplements by taking each of the problematic factors and shedding some light on them. Using mineral supplements in your deer management program can produce tremendous results, and after we clear away the fog surrounding mineral supplements, you will be able to make the choices to begin realizing the benefits. ATTRACTION VS. NUTRITION The first major issue to clarify is the difference between products designed predominantly for attraction and those designed around nutrition first and attraction second. Most products designed primarily for attraction are nearly all salt based. Like all herbivores, deer can be attracted to salt during spring, summer and early fall. The attractiveness of salt is caused by the animalsâ€™ need for sodium, which is supplied by salt in the form of sodium chloride. At a cellular level, potassium and sodium must be in appropriate balance in order to maintain normal body function. Green, lush vegetation normally found in abundance from spring through early fall is very high in potassium but very low in sodium. Therefore, deer are overloaded with potassium and search out sodium where it can be found. However, just because deer are attracted to sodium does not necessarily mean it does anything to improve antler growth www.whitetailinstitute.com
Clearing Up the Mineral Mystery