Both mineral supplements and deer attractants serve two very different, yet specific purposes when it comes to your average deer hunter’s concerns. One provides minerals that can be beneficial to a deer’s overall health while the other is simply used to lure deer to a specific area but provides little nutritional value. Knowing the difference between pure mineral supplements and a deer attractant can help you decide which will best suit your needs.
Most deer licks or deer attractants are either sweet or salt based. Salt, also called sodium or sodium chloride has almost no nutritional value to deer by itself. Salt is commonly used in mineral supplements as an attractant, but in high amounts acts as a limiter meaning deer will only consume so much of it. Unfortunately, this also limits the deer’s intake of much needed minerals.
Salt licks and so called mineral supplements that contain 30% or more salt are technically more of an attractant than a pure mineral supplement. It’s unfortunate that some products are sold as a “mineral supplement” claiming to increase antler growth yet a little detective work reveals the product is mostly salt. Sure they may contain some trace minerals but if they contain a high amount of salt they won’t give the deer the full benefit a pure mineral supplement would. Read the label before buying!
Sweet deer attractants normally contain corn, sugars, molasses or a combination of each. But like salt, sweets provide little nutritional value to the deer. It’s like giving candy to a kid, he’d sure as heck eat it for dinner if you let him, but we both know there is zero nutritional benefit.
Although deer attractants may not top the nutritional charts they do have a place in the deer hunter’s world. They work great to lure or bait deer into a specific area. This strategy can be used for hunting purposes where legal. We use attractants like Trophy Rock or Lucky Buck during the off season to lure deer in front of our trail cameras which is extremely effective.
Deer Mineral Supplements
Deer mineral supplements contain both macro minerals and trace minerals in very specific amounts which can have great benefits to a deer’s health and well-being. For the average deer hunter, the one main benefit is to help bucks grow bigger racks.
But a sufficient diet of minerals has proven to help deer in many ways such as bone and antler growth, tissue growth, metabolism, energy, muscle contraction, enzyme and hormone function, digestion, lactation, cellular balance and hundreds of other benefits crucial to a healthy life.
A good deer mineral supplement should contain the 5 main macro minerals – calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, and sodium. You can see sodium (salt) is listed and is needed in the deer’s diet but not in high amounts.
A deer supplement will also contain trace minerals that together are just as vital as the macro group. Trace minerals include zinc, copper, manganese, iodine, selenium, and cobalt.
When you consider the fact that a hardened antler is a little more than 50% pure mineral you can begin to understand the benefits of deer mineral supplementing. The best time of year to set up a few deer mineral sites is in early spring. You want to help the deer to replenish body weight and health after a long winter.
Continue using mineral sites clear through the antler growing season and into the fall. In a perfect world you should use mineral supplements year round but your budget or certain hunting laws may prevent that.
Both deer attractants and mineral supplements serve a purpose. Decide what your goals are – either to attract deer or to provide nutrition. Then before buying be sure to read the nutritional label so you know for sure what you are feeding the deer.