A salt lick or commonly called a mineral lick is a location where animals go to fulfill their mineral needs. These salt licks can be naturally occurring or man-made.
Deer have been salt lickers since the beginning of time. They have been doing it from the naturally occurring salt licks. Unfortunately, these natural salt licks are rare in this age, which is why man has resorted to creating salt licks on his land.
Why are salt licks needed?
Are salt licks good for deer? Well, yes because salt licks are a great source of minerals for deer. They need minerals for the healthy growth of their bodies and antlers.
Do not confuse their mineral requirements with those of any other animal. Unlike other hoofed animals, deer require a mineral lick that fulfills their need for calcium and phosphorus as these two are the basic minerals required for the healthy growth of their antlers. It is better to grab the formula for making a salt lick that is prepared specifically to meet deer’s needs.
If you own a property that is frequented by deer, you would want this piece of land to benefit you as much as possible. A land which is home to healthy deer having great antlers is an ideal place for deer hunting. This is the main reason artificial salt licks are setup wisely around the property. A salt lick also promises healthy and beautiful deer breeding.
When to set up salt licks:
If you are thinking for an ideal time of the year to set up salt licks for deer, you might be surprised to know that deer benefit from these salt licks round the year.
Summers and springs are a crucial time for deer to have sufficient mineral intake in their bodies as they grow in this period. Also, a lot of Doe give birth to fawns during these seasons and thus need an extra inflow of these minerals while lactating. It nourishes the mother and the baby equally.
During summer and spring, there is an abundance of greens everywhere for deer to feed upon. This lots of green intake calls for good digestion and processing of extra water intake. Salt licks ensure all of this is handled properly.
Deer need an adequate amount of mineral intake during fall and winter. They need nutrition to gain fat in their bodies in order to keep them warm during harsh winters. Since the green is absent at most places in these seasons, deer have to feed upon dry birches and shrubs. Salt licks come handy in order to fulfill the missing nutrients.
Where to set up salt licks:
There is no devised formula to know how deer think and where they might frequent looking for salt licks. If you want to find out the best places for setting up salt licks you will have to observe the behavior of deer.
Setup cameras and observe which track they follow and where do they end up having water from.
Some of the most common places to set up salt licks for deer are:
Water pools: Deer are bound to come regularly at water pools or ponds. Setting up a salt lick near that area will ensure the deer benefit from it as they will need salt after having water and vice versa.
Bedding area: Deer will set up a particular area for resting and meeting other habitats. It is best to set up mineral licks near their resting area. They will definitely end up figuring it out and getting benefited by it.
Trails: Setting up salt licks near the deer trail is yet another great idea. The trick is not to put it right on the middle of the trail. Setup a salt lick a little away from the trail. This will ensure no natural habitat is compromised with the deer end up finding a salt lick through their strong sense of smell.
Be careful while setting up a salt lick. Nothing in the environment should be changed noticeably. This will alert the deer and hush them away to other properties. The main idea behind setting up the salt lick is to provide the deer with the best health and safety within your property.
How to choose the best product?
After finalizing the spot and timing for setting up the salt licks, now comes the next step of choosing the best mineral product for your property.
It mainly depends upon the type of property and weather of your area. The mineral product comes in three forms
- Solid brick or blocks
In an area with heavy rainfall, the salt blocks are used commonly as it will take time to seep in the soil but will not be washed away with the rainwater.
For the optimal results, Himalayan salt mineral blocks are preferred as these blocks are all natural and packed with essential minerals.
Others prefer granular form as it is very easy to use and stays for quite a good time.
The liquid form is the easiest to blend in the soil but it gets carried away very easily. Another drawback with using the liquid form of salt is that it gets leached deep into the soil over time. The deer have to dig deep down to get to the salt and in doing so they end up consuming a lot of dirt which may be harmful to them.
The best idea is to use all three forms according to the time of the year and the requirement
How to set up a salt lick:
Setting up a salt lick that looks natural is very easy, follow these steps to set up your own salt lick.
- Dig holes in the ground where you plan to set up your salt lick.
- Fill these holes with the salt mix or mineral mix. Save a little of it.
- Top them up with soil removed from the holes to give a natural look.
- Stick a stump in the ground and cover it with the salt mixture so that it looks natural. This will make it easier for the deer to find the salt lick.
After rain or two, the salt lick will become more natural and there will be no need to add any more salt up to six months.
Another idea of setting up a natural salt lick is digging a hole of around 12 inches deep and 36 inches in diameter. Fill this hole with the salt mixture saving a little for later use. Top up with the soil and give it a stir to blend a little with the salt mixture. Sprinkle the saved salt mixture on top of the soil.
This salt lick will need refilling with soil from time to time as it may get bigger and end up being storage for rainwater.
If you are considering setting up a salt lick with the purpose of attracting deer for hunting, make sure it is legal in the area of your residency.
Be patient in seeing the change these salt lick will bring about in the herd of deer at your property. Do not expect something magical to produce huge sized bucks with killer antlers overnight.