If you are like I was before this article, you probably do not take the time to think about your whitetail mineral supplements or what goes into them. A simple mix by a big brand or a bag of corn was good enough in my mind. After doing some research and talking to experts in the field I have learned that it is not all about salt or filler and that many brands including BIG brands are just straight-up ripping us off. When you dive into the science behind Mineral supplements, you open an entire world around whitetails that many people do not understand as well as they may think they do.
Attractant Vs Supplement
If you do not own a plot of land that houses a whitetail population, you probably just lease land or hunt wherever you are allowed to that year. In your case, you normaly do not really care about the nutritional health of the population as much and you just want to bait in a nice buck for this year. This is 100% okay! Thousands of hunters hunt this way and they help control populations around the country. If you are this kind of hunter then you will have great luck with attractants, baits (like doe estrus or corn), and maybe a salt lick now and then. I have hunted like this for years on leased plots and have had great success.
Although, if you do put more effort into your whitetail population and are focused on long term health and prosperity, then you should look into beneficial supplements and the nutritional needs of your population. Whitetail supplements are a whole different world from baiting. They are more than just feeding deer apple flavored corn or tossing out a mineral mix from a name brand without reading the label.
What Hunters Care About
At the end of the day, we want big antlers. So to supplement big antlers we should know what they are made out of. A study at the University of Georgia has shown that 80% of growing antlers are made proteins. While hardened antlers are mostly comprised of 11 different minerals. These studies show that calcium(19%) and phosphorus(10%) are the most abundant proteins. The rest of the proteins potassium, sodium, barium, iron, aluminum, magnesium, zinc, strontium, and manganese make up less than 1% each.
Whitetails growing antlers do have small reserves of these minerals built up during the year, but need to consume the majority of these minerals and proteins while they are growing their antlers. As for the does, it turns out they need many of the exact same proteins and minerals for lactation. So supplements with the right ingredients not only help your bucks antler growth but also your does feed their fawns.
What Big Companies Care About
Companies are in the business of making money. Some may even say that they can take advantage of their customers that do not know any better. Most of the supplements we are being sold are more like attractants because they are mostly salt, but hey if it happens to attract a big deer on tv then it works, right? Well, this is a classic example of correlation without causation. I know you have seen on tv where a big ranch with thousands of acres and well-developed food plots puts up a picture of a brand new supplement and claim that their product made their deer huge. It is just not true, these products can not make dozens of 150+ inch bucks in a year.
But they do a great job of convincing you that it does and because of that, they sell literal tons of their supplements just because they slapped a bag in front of a famous hunter after he harvests a Boone and Crockett.
What We Are Being Sold
Unfortunately, most large companies are selling us products labeled as supplements that are not much more than salt and filler. If you go into a sportsman store or tractor supply it will not be hard to find probably five to ten different brands of whitetail mineral supplement. Most of these large brands slap a big name hunter or company on the label so you will buy it without thinking too much. If you choose to use mineral supplements to better manage your whitetail population, you should look at the ingredients of what you are feeding them. What you find may just shock you, especially if you are paying 30-50 dollars for a bag of salt.
On the other hand, feeding these to your deer will not hurt them at all. It will just not accomplish what you meant to do with the supplement. Animals love salt so these mostly salt “mineral supplements” are simply acting like more of an attractant than a supplement. This could make your deer gain more weight but will not supplement antler growth like most of these products aim to do.
What Mineral Supplements Should Be
A lot goes into a good supplement. You can add many things in them that will be great for the population. Such as anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-viral benefits along with great nutritional value. Other then being packed with the minerals and proteins that we previously mentioned, blood flow if very important in antler growth.
According to Nxt Level Deer Supplements,
“By increasing blood flow, using vasodilators, the animal will receive needed nutrients faster and more efficiently. Also, this helps in dealing with heat stress to promote a more consistent feeding schedule. Antlers are one of the fastest growing tissues known to man. By boosting blood flow, [mineral supplements] could significantly improve antler size. “
So if you are standing in the aisle and looking for a supplement, read the ingredients. Look for a supplement with a high percentage of calcium and phosphorus. Although I may have slightly demonized salt earlier, it is a requirement, just not in the 70-90% range. Find a bag that is more around 20-40% salt. Few other companies use the anti-sickness benefits but if you find a good company with those that also use vasodilators like Nxt Level Deer Supplements then that is a good product to use.
Whitetail Nutritional Requirements
There is kryptonite to a perfect deer supplement. If your whitetail population is not getting enough food or natural nutrition, it does not matter how many minerals you feed them. If your deer are struggling to keep a normal body weight then their antlers will not be a priority. They will focus their resources on trying to find more fatty and caloric foods.
Whitetails have different nutritional needs depending on the time of year. During the summer is when they will need more proteins and minerals for lactation and antler development. They also need a regular amount of fats and carbohydrates. During the fall, they are looking for carbohydrates and higher fatty foods to build up strong storage for the winter. So if your property, for some reason, does not provide adequate nutrition then you need to try your best to change that first. Food plots are one possible solution to dramatically improve whitetail nutrition.
Thanks for reading my article about whitetail mineral supplements. I hope you enjoyed it and learned something you didn’t already know. If you like my content, subscribe to my weekly update. If you have any other questions about whitetail mineral supplements or just want to connect, feel free to email me at Patrick.Long@omegaoutdoors.net.