Want to get a bunch of trail camera photos during the times of year when it's typically difficult to do so? Use a mineral site.
Over the past five years or so, I've really started to fine-tune the system that I use for running trail cameras in the spring and summer months, and it's a system that revolves entirely around mineral sites.
During the summer, finding locations that deer frequent often can be tough. They have just about every option available to them. They can feed darned near anywhere as browse is abundant and crops are plentiful. They bed seemingly wherever they want and there are no scrapes or super-active trail systems to target.
But adding a mineral site to the mix has been the ticket for me. The sites attract deer and pose them for short periods in the right spot -- which happens to be right in front of the camera.
But running mineral sites can get a bit pricey. Most commercially-made products are going to run about $20 a bag and each bag will service one site for a couple of months. Do the math. It won't take long to sink a few hundred bucks into the ground.
I've used all manner of commercial mineral products over the years, and I've also epxerimented with my own blends. And, honestly, the only difference I can tell is in the price.
Making your own deer mineral isn't hard, nor is it expensive. In the above video, I share a simple recipe for making about 100 pounds of the mix for less than $40.
A lot is made over the power of mineral sites to grow antlers and create a healthier deer population. Do I believe that? Honestly, I'm not sure and it really doesn't matter to me that much. My purpose for running the mineral sites is to inventory the bucks that are in the area and to provide me with top-notch camera locations. Mineral sites do exactly that.
So why not just use straight salt? That would certainly work. But I think the aroma of the added products -- the general purpose mineral in the blend above -- helps deer find the location faster and may add some level of taste value as well. Once they've found the location, it's the salt that keeps them coming back.
A good wrinkle to add here is to mix up the recipe used in the video -- that'll give you about 100 pounds of mix -- and then blend in some sort of dry attractant to help the deer find the location quickly and to add some additional flavor value that might keep them coming back for more.
Wildgame Innovations, for example, has all manner of attractants that have a powerful aroma that should help deer find your mineral site more quickly and may add a flavor component that the deer love. My best advice here is to use an attractant with an aroma or flavor that's natural to your area. Maybe I'm overly paranoid but I don't like adding persimmon-scented products in an area where persimmons don't grow. Experiment and see what works best for you.
Whether the addition of supplemental minerals is truly benefitting the deer, or if the deer are simply using the site because of the salt, isn't really a primary concern of mine. I only know that when I put out a mineral site, I'm likely going to have an excellent location for capturing a lot of trail camera images.
And that's what I want.