Summertime supplements

Mineral supplements are essential for deer this time of year, and they come in all shapes and sizes. (Photo by Jeff Burleson)

Deer and other wildlife are products of their environments. The quality of the food and nutritional makeup of their consumables will dictate the quality of these animals for the duration of their lives. And for deer hunters striving to grow large-racked bucks, nutrition is a key component to success. Hunters and land managers can provide supplements for deer that deer will love. But which ones are the most beneficial to use?

A typical deer’s diet can vary throughout the year depending on seasonal availability. Protein, fats, and carbohydrates are the major components that deer can’t live without. In fact, protein is a major contributor to body size and antler growth as proven in several studies around the country. Yet other nutrients carry a great deal of importance to deer, and a series of complex minerals are at the top of the list.

Calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and many other trace minerals are important for antler growth in bucks, and for basic metabolic function in all deer. A mineral-rich diet during the spring and summer antler-growing season is critical for optimal antler potential. 

Deer will crave salt during the spring and summer months due to the high concentrations of water and potassium in their natural forage.

Repeat visitors

Deer will habitually visit mineral sites as regularly as a pile of corn, sweet potatoes, or sweet feed. And the minerals the deer will absorb/consume at these sites will be much more beneficial than just about any other type of supplementation program. 

From engineering blocks to granular carriers and even rock in its natural form, landowners and hunters have a wide variety of options to choose from. 

The pure white salt blocks are pure sodium chloride and really don’t have many benefits other than the sodium itself. And while these blocks are the least expensive, they provide the least value to deer as compared to other options. 

The engineered mineral blocks are acceptable options as they contain salt and a list of other beneficial nutrients. And the deer will flock to these as well. 

The loose granular options are also good and can be very acceptable as they contain lots of beneficial components for healthy antler growth. Most of these loose granular options contain the primary mineral ingredients, but will also contain other trace minerals that can be beneficial to deer. 

Some commercial mixes with additives can be used, or hunters can purchase commercial cattle mineral supplements or create their own mixtures from readily-available materials from the local agriculture supply shop. A good home recipe should contain one part dicalcium phosphate, one part trace minerals, and two to three parts salt. Dicalcium phosphate and salt can be easily purchased in bulk quantities or in 50-pound bags at very reasonable prices.   

Lastly, there are solid, unrefined mineral salt options that come completely in their natural form. Redmond Trophy Rock is an all-natural, unrefined mineral salt material that is mined from a prehistoric mineral deposit in Utah. These rocks have over 60 chelated trace minerals that come in the same form deer find in the wild. And deer just love the taste of these Trophy Rocks. They are all natural and will last several years of heavy use and will withstand harsh weather.  

No matter which product hunters select, the longevity and cost are minimal when compared to other forms of supplementation. And mineral supplements will stay in the soil after the blocks, rocks, or granular supplements are not visible anymore. Deer will continue to visit and excavate the area. 

Mineral supplements can be deployed any time of the year, but the summer season is among the best. Deer will crave salt and get accustomed to these mineral sites right when they need it the most. Snag some mineral supplements or Trophy Rock today to start improving your herd.  

Constant craving:

Because summer’s food sources are high in water and potassium, deer are left craving salt and other minerals, so hunters will see big dividends when they offer supplements that keep deer coming back for more.

About Jeff Burleson 1311 Articles
Jeff Burleson is a native of Lumberton, N.C., who lives in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He graduated from N.C. State University with a degree in fisheries and wildlife sciences and is a certified biologist and professional forester for Southern Palmetto Environmental Consulting.

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