whitetail deer

The Importance of Minerals for Whitetails

Whitetails need minerals for antler growth, right?

With spring fast approaching, there is no shortage of opportunities to better your deer herd, the most common being planting food plots, but a mineral site is a close second. After all, deer need the minerals to promote antler growth!

According to research done by the QDMA, this might not be true. Once antlers are finished growing, they are composed of a 50-50 split of proteins and minerals, the most important two minerals being calcium and phosphorus, which make up close to 35 percent of the antler. It's reasonable to think most of that has to come from the deer's diet.

However, in several studies, no evidence has been found that correlates mineral intake to antler growth. Penn State and Auburn Universities have both performed studies on mineral and rack size, comparing deer herds with access to mineral supplements and those without. Both studies found no differences between the herds.

So, why are you and I spending all this hard-earned money on trophy rocks and salt licks, when you could be doing other improvements? To answer this, first remember when most deer are most likely to use mineral and salt licks: during the spring and summer, while all types of forage and green are growing, full of water and potassium, making deer run on a salt deficiency.

So, how does this affect your hunting? Simple. Your salt licks are a great place for your trail cameras and to survey your deer herds. Use them to verify your buck-to-doe ratio and as part of your overall management plan.

Ultimately, time and nutrition are what result in antler growth. Have patience with your herd, and monitor it with a trail camera conveniently located over a mineral supplement.