If you view marketing claims from sellers of deer mineral with skepticism, you're not alone. They'll promise 10-15 percent gains in antler growth and claim that you're contributing to healthier deer herds overall. But the hunting world is filled with dubious products promising the success we all crave. We see the photos of the guy sitting behind a monster buck and envision ourselves in that enviable position. We're suckers deceived by our own pipe-dream fantasies.
These were my very thoughts while despensing my first deer mineral a couple of springs ago. To be brutally honest, I didn't pay for that mineral. I'd been working on a magazine assignment discussing deer feed and a manufacturer sent it up hoping I'd have something nice to say about it in way of promotion. It was painless to dump it somewhere and forget about it. I had few expectations. Immediately after moving to Idaho I tossed cattle salt blocks all over our property hoping to attract and observe whitetails in my own backyard (feeding deer is legal in Idaho but hunting those spots is not). Deer weren't one bit interested. Those blocks slowly dissolved into the dirt unmolested.
Late that summer while scouting new stand sites I swung by that mineral site to have a look. Not one speck of the mineral remained, the ground pawed into a depression by little cloven hooves! So obviously they loved it. Hmmm...this might come in handy in some other location where hunting mineral is legal.
The man who sent me that mineral, Jeff Williams, owner of Dr. James Kroll-approved Nutra Deer, was summoned and more Antler Builder ordered. I was now willing to pay for it, and dispensed the subsequent bags more thoughtfully last spring. Sure enough, deer again attacked it with vigor.
What's most interesting, is the same deer that won't even touch livestock blocks of any color or flavor (although New Mexico deer couldn't get enough of the same products) would gobble this stuff like candy. Which might be the key. Besides the vitamins (A, D3 and E, for instance), minerals (calcium, phosphorous and salt, most specifically) and "micro minerals" (copper, iodine, zinc and selenium), Nutra Deer's Antler Builder is infused with artificial flavors. I'm certain this is the secret to geting deer to consume the mixture initially.
And why is this important? While far from a scientifically-controlled experiment, I can truthfully say I observed a perceivable increase in antler growth last season. Before I started feeding Antler Builder my top end trailcam photos were nearly all 4x5 bucks. Last year, a couple hundred pounds of free-fed mineral later, I was picking up few 4x5s and many more 5x5s. Nothing changed in way of weather or moisture -- only that mineral.
So is deer mineral worth the extra effort and expense? I think so. And I'd like to think I'm also producing healthier does dropping stronger fawns as well. The time to deploy minerals is now.
How about you? Anyone out there share similar experiences?
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