Deer hunters are always on the lookout for new ways to improve their deer herd health. Making mineral station is a great way of providing relief to the deer on your hunting ground without breaking the bank. They are critical during the springtime as the deer are at their all-time low as far as seasons go. They have gone all winter without that much food available, and before the first spring green, they are really struggling. Adding mineral to their diet help their general health, but also keep them away from the roads where they get killed trying to lick the road salt.
Pictured above: A deer at a station mid summer
Where I am located, the snow melt coincides with turkey season. Since I can hunt turkey until 12 am, I find that making my mineral station to be a perfect activity after those morning hunts. I transport must of my stuff by hand over about a kilometer for my farthest site. It helps to be in shape to do that but it is not infeasible either, I do it every year after all.
The past few years I have been making my own mineral station with a lot of success. Here is how I make them.
Preparing the mixture
I always prepare my mixture around the end of March or early April. I can get a lot of the items required at a discounted price, and I have the time to prepare them before the last of snow had the time to melt down. It is important however to get them on site as soon as you can see the ground in the forest since the sooner the deer can get to it the better.
List of ingredients
Here is what I use: 75kg of hunting quality salt 20kg of deer hunting mineral mix 2x 4 liters of liquid mineral attractant for deer. 4x salt blocks (I use the red ones) 4x 5 gallons bucket
This list is ample enough to make two mineral stations and leave you with enough to refresh the site in mid-summer. Find this stuff on sale during the off-season or the spring and you can get it off fairly cheap.
Pictured above: Some of the ingredients
Mixing it together
Put an equal amount of your mineral mix in each bucket. Try your best to have an equal amount in each, then add the hunting salt to the mix until the bucket is at ¾ capacity.
Next, put some heavy duty cleaning gloves on and add some liquid mineral attractant to the mix. This is where the glove come in handy; mix with your hand making sure that the mineral mix stuck at the bottom get thoroughly mixed with the salt and liquid attractant. Add liquid attractant until you achieve a consistency where the mix is moldable with your hand. It should be equally wet throughout the whole bucket. This step takes a lot of time but I have found that this technique gives me the best result since the salt stays in place way longer this way under the rain and elements of nature.
Prepare your four or so bucket the same way and apply the lid until you go in the field.
Making the site
Nothing beat an established mineral site that deer already know. They will come back year after year to the same place. Always refresh those site first. If you want to establish a new site, nothing beat actual scouting on your hunting place to determine the best emplacement. Use travel corridor between bedding and food and try to find a place that gives you a place to clear the ground for a circle of about 6 feet in diameter. Bonus point for having a cover from the rain, I like evergreen for that. If you can find a site with an old stump, not rotten, however, it is better.
Pictured above: A deer at a station early summer
With all the material from the list, you should have 4 buckets full of mixture and 4 blocks of salt. I always place two blocks per site directly in spring since they last a long time. I had one bucket of mixture per site in the spring and top it off with the remaining bucket at mid-summer. Around July most year.
For a new site, clear the ground on a circle of about 6 feet in diameter. Get rid of leaves, needles, branches etc… If you don’t have a stump around which to make your site, find the biggest log possible and bring it to the middle of your circle. Of course, having a rake and a maybe a hand cultivator is really useful, but you can do without them.
With your two blocks at your site, I place one on of the block on top of the stump. With the years, this stump will soak in a lot of salt and mineral and be a mineral lick by itself. I place the second block on another stump or directly on the bare ground, it depends on the site.
Pictured above: A new station made spring of 2017
The mixture is then placed on the site stating by simply dumping the whole bucket on the salt blocks. When the mix simply falls off, do the same with the second block. The remaining goes on the ground and is mixed with the dirt.
The fact that you worked so hard on mixing the mineral with the liquid in the bucket earlier will prove useful since they slow down the effect the rain as on the mineral quite drastically. Come July, I always top my sites off, but they still are going strong. I just prefer to do them earlier and leave the deer alone before hunting season.
Depending on the way the land is laid where you hunt, I would put about 1 station per 40 or 50 acres of land. Where I hunt, the piece of property is long but somewhat narrow and is about 90 acres. I have two stations on that property and I feel it is enough. I see the same deer at both sites at different time of the year which prove me it is enough. We also get a little bit of moose here and they seem to also go to the same site as the deer go.
Of course, budget permitting, you could also add a ton of product to what I do. There is no lack of product in the attractant side of things for the deer hunters. In fact, I sometimes think there is too much marketed toward us, it can make my head spin. Two products that I think may be worth it are sulfur and protein block. I have seen some evidence that deer might be more attracted to a site using sulfur additive in powder form. Protein block might be useful if your herd seem to lack food sources and could also help them during the hard month of Canadian winter. I don’t personally use any of those two products myself, however.
Pictured above: A existing station refreshed during spring of 2017
This is the way I make my mineral site for the last three year and had great results! What is even nicer is that you can mix a lot of different product using this technique by using with is in clearance where you are and it doesn’t seem to affect the result that I get.
I hope you can learn this technique that I use, and please leave any comment that could benefit me as well below!