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Gary Howey

” IN 2017

Managing Whitetails with Minerals: Easy & Effective

Entered by Gary Howey

Former tournament angler, hunting and fishing guide. Inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing "Hall of Fame" in 2017. Active member of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW), Past Executive Director (AGLOW). Howey has been an outdoor communicator since 1980 with his award winning syndicated "Of the Outdoors" columns appearing in magazine, newspapers, and tabloids throughout he upper Midwest and nationally.

April 3, 2017

A very simple but favorite management chore of mine in the spring is establishing new mineral sites. The anticipation of what might show up that year as the antlers begin to develop is always super high. I have even found myself in the past few years putting out mineral rocks and supplements in urban landscapes and backyard woodlots just to see what deer frequent the area even though I have no intention of hunting there. Creating new mineral sites can be especially exciting when you have a new piece of ground to investigate and see what deer are living there and what the potential of the area is. Refreshing old mineral sites or creating new ones is also a good family and kid friendly management activity. It doesn’t require any heavy equipment or long hours, and can be a great way to help teach kids some woodsmanship along the way and why whitetails use mineral licks.

So how do you establish a productive mineral site? It may seem as simple as pouring it in a depression you dig up with your boot or throwing a Bio Rock out on the edge of a food plot. These scenarios will work to a degree, but I like to put a little more thought and effort into my mineral sites and try to get the most out of them in terms of attraction, utilization, and trail camera use for getting an inventory on the deer that are using the area as well as identifying bucks through unique characteristics.

One of my favorite ways to establish a mineral site is to look for a semi rotted tree stump, preferably one of a hardwood. Ideally the top of the stump has a hole or a good place to wedge the rock so that it cannot be pushed or nudged off when deer use it. If the stump is still pretty flat on top, I generally use a hatchet to create a depression or split the stump somewhat to wedge the rock down in. The somewhat rotten stumps make great locations for mineral licks for a couple reasons. As rainfall slowly melts the rock and other added minerals over time, they leach into the wood of the stump as well as the surrounding root system. Deer love to paw and chew at the mineral soaked wood and will eventually wear it completely down or dig the stump up completely.

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