I use mineral licks to obtain photos of as many bucks as possible on each of the properties I plan to hunt. By doing so, I figure out which areas have bucks I would like to harvest, and I can began to learn important characteristics and habits about individual bucks that I might target in the future. What follows is the method I use to study a particular buck long before I begin to hunt him:
By Bobby Worthington
Sometime during the month of February, I will make mineral licks at the edge of the thickest cover I can find on the properties I plan to hunt.
After deer, bucks in particular, get hooked on the lick, it is hard for them to stop using it. If there is a rotten tree stump at, or very close to the location where the mineral lick needs to be, I will pour my minerals around and on the stump. Deer will utilize the lick much more aggressively when it is located around a decaying stump.
Placing the licks (and later cameras) just on the edge of thick cover and not out in open areas is the secret to finding a mature buck’s core area and getting the buck to use a lick often. The thickets I want to place the minerals close to are usually cover such as clear-cuts, old grown up fields, thick ivy, or other dense vegetation along drainages. A mature buck’s core area will always be associated with a habitat change which includes some type of thick undergrowth.
After I have identified all such thickets on my hunting properties, I will walk their perimeters to find the exact location to place my mineral licks. I look for anything that will funnel deer down to a defined area.
If there is a funnel near the thicket, that’s where I will place my mineral lick. I like to place mineral licks in my best funnels because deer are creatures of habit. By placing mineral licks in better funnels, I can get deer familiar with using them. As deer become accustomed to passing through funnels, they feel safe there. Even if they are not interested in salt on a particular day, I still have a chance to get a photograph of them because many will be naturally traveling through the funnel anyway.
Another advantage to placing licks in funnels where I will later be hunting is that a network of trails will be formed ending at the lick. Even if the trails are not being heavily used at the time I am hunting, I like the fact that they are there leading to my stand. A cruising buck traveling through an area he does not frequent will sometimes follow deer trails he comes across. This will not only allow him to scent check for a doe, it will enable him to avoid terrain obstructions and follow the path of least resistance.
Here’s a buck using this product.