Dbltrees Getting started threads.

I picked up some commercial mixes

Noted the high concentration of salt in each....

along with various other ingredients

In each one

Keep in mind that each one of these weighs only a few pounds and cost as much or more then 50#'s of salt, most of course contained some minerals but a 50# bag of minerals is roughly $18-25

I placed marker flags in the existing lick

and emptied the contents of each bag by the appropriate flag

noting the heavy activity by deer digging the rock hard bone dry soil/salt in the lick
noting the heavy activity by deer digging the rock hard bone dry soil/salt in the lick

and deer currently using it

Noted the start 7-10-12

and stop 7-23-2012 973 pics (keep in mind that before I kept records some pulls were in 1200-1500 range)

I was curious if there was a commercial mix that was more attractive to deer then...salt, something I felt I already knew the answer too but as with everything I share...I want to know the truth and have the facts clearly proven.

Would deer ignore the salt and choose the commercial products...or not? Out of 973 pics....only 4 deer even sniffed the commercial products let alone ate them and all the rest continued to eat the dirt salt/mix already there.
Would deer ignore the salt and choose the commercial products...or not? Out of 973 pics....only 4 deer even sniffed the commercial products let alone ate them and all the rest continued to eat the dirt salt/mix already there.

None of the older bucks even approached the commercial mixes

nor did the number of bucks visiting the site increase although I am sharing more pics from this batch then the first, actual activity did not increase

Note the line of fresh TM salt applied and deer using it, although most preferred the salt already mixed in the dirt

In time...as rain washes the various products into the soil I expect they will indeed use all of them at some point but it is certainly clear that in no way are these products more attractive then plain old...salt. They also do not have the ability to produce ginormous racks...only age and genetics can accomplish that.

Provide salt and free choice minerals but get more bang for you buck by buying 50# bags from your local feed store or farm and fleet and don't be misled into believing that any food or mineral will have a significant impact on the antler growth of wild, free roaming whitetails with normal, healthy food native food sources available to them...there is simply no verifiable evidence to prove otherwise....
August 27th

I haven't had time to check my cams lately but took advantage of the rain day to check the lick cam and see how goes it with the product comparisons regarding commercial salt/mineral combos versus inexpensive trace mineral salt ($7 for 50#) and livestock mineral. Will the expensive products bring in more deer or will deer even eat them?

after being our several months now it is clear (as expected) that no more/different deer are using the site and after all this time only a couple deer even touched the expensive commercial products, preferring instead to continue eating the plain old...salt...

1136 pics from 7-23 to 8-26...not much new or different there and the average deer did the same thing every time...ate the trace mineral salt

only a 1/2 dozen pics showed a deer even sniffing the other products let alone eating them

the little salt blocks are of course...90% salt (two tiny blocks cost almost as much as 50#'s of salt!!) and at least one deer did lick the blocks...

Day after day, deer turned up their noses at the other, highly touted, and widely advertised commercial products

Including every buck that came in

none touched the commercial products

Choosing the line of salt in front of the other products

Minerals...can not produce huge racks...only age and genetics can accomplish that

If then you wish to use the least expensive yet most effective means of determine which deer live on your property...stop by your local farm supply store and pick up a bag of trace mineral salt and perhaps a bag of sheep mineral and put them out right after your season ends if legal in your state)...and have fun seeing what is living on your farm...

Fall cam placement

Summer time cams are usually on salt (where legal) and perhaps on food sources but once bucks lose their velvet, things change almost over night! They suddenly disappear from summer salt licks and for a time drop off the radar as the bachelor groups split up and each goes their own way in preparation for the rut.

September then, is a great time to get cams moved to funnels and food sources on field scan mode...even if you use black flash, mature bucks do not like "something" on a tree when coming down a trail so mount them up high and point them (where possible) north up the trail. I use a small featherlite ladder to get the cams 7-8' off the ground

Hopefully you have done some funneling with a chainsaw and every deer will need to pass thru the funnel (and by your stand) and having a cam on each funnel will, after season reveal which ones were most productive. This will allow you to hunt these funnels with confidence or abandon unproductive ones.

Easy to mount most cams with some simple hardware that will allow you to rotate and tilt cams as necessary

I usually place field cams facing into the field but along side a funneled runway (because of edgefeathering) so I get deer using the runway (to help determine actual distance of buck travel across a farm) as well as an accurate census of deer using the food sources in the field. Same hardware except using two 1/4-20 eyebolts in a small U post makes a solid setup....

My redneck version is a piece of wire thru a cheap plastic fence post, although they sometimes get knocked sideways by curious deer

You can not have too many cams because the information gleaned from them is invaluable in managing your whitetails and habitat and allowing you be be successful in harvesting the most mature buck on your property. There are of course cams for every budget from $50 to 1500, each with flaws and good points but I have settled on the 2011 Bushnells for now. With lithium batteries they can easily go for a year and 16G cards can be purchased on Ebay for under $10 a card.

Cams with free shipping for under $140 also common on Ebay and I have bought in excess of 30+ cams for myself and others from sources like this...

2011 Bushnell Trophy Cam

Get cams moved and in place before things heat up and begin a system of logging deer, movement, travel etc. that will help you become a better hunter and land manager.....
Carrying Capacity

What is the carrying capacity of your land in regards to whitetails? How many deer can it carry? How many deer would you like it to carry? How do we know when we have exceeded the carrying capacity?

Important but rarely thought of questions to which no one can answer but....you

Any given acreage can reasonably carry only so many deer and that number will not be the same in south Texas as it is in Iowa or northern Michigan or South Carolina. The productivity of the soils has a huge impact on the amount and quality of both native forage and planted crops, annual rainfall can be a limiting factor as well but the amount and quality of cover is immensely important.

A square mile of open yet extremely fertile northern Iowa farm land may have virtually no deer while the brush county of Texas, though arid and less fertile far more deer. Highest carrying capacity will usually be in those areas that have the right combination of fertile farmland and productive mast producing timber with plenty of brushy/grassy cover.

How many deer our land can carry then may vary widely from how many we think it can or should and on an individual basis landowners may prefer to see a certain number of deer all of which may bring varied responses from those who have "opinions" on how many deer is the right amount.

These questions are important when we decide how many if any does we need to harvest annually to maintain the correct carrying capacity. Premium habitat (thick brushy bedding areas, native warm season grass, productive oaks and high yielding food sources that feed deer year around) can carry far more deer then poor habitat (open timber, large ag fields, poor yielding food sources that are temporary, no mast production) which can support few if any deer.

When deer numbers exceed the carrying capacity of the land, browse lines will be apparent and timbered areas may be void of any browse within reach of a deer standing on it's hind legs. In these situations any food source is likely to be decimated and the social stress on deer will begin to cause physical stress, aborted fetus's, low body weights and antler growth.

If we are responsible land and wildlife stewards we must maintain a balanced deer herd within the carrying capacity of our land. As with farming and forestry we can increase the productivity of our land by making the necessary habitat improvements that will allow each acre of our land to feed/house more deer and once we have reached a reasonable number of deer we can maintain that number with annual antlerless harvest.

Recently on another forum a poster commented that his solution to not having deer wipe out his corn and beans was to shoot enough deer that he could grow those crops successfully. It's not up to me to say that this is right or wrong only that nothing about that makes sense for me and my program. One acre of clover can successfully feed 10X as many whitetails for months longer then one acre of soybeans which in turn allows me to hold a much higher number of deer.

There is of course much more to this then planted food sources and if we have open timber, deer in high numbers will again be socially stressed and browse will be decimated. Using good timber management we can increase understory browse and bedding cover that will in turn allow us to have much higher deer numbers.

My personal goal is to maximize my habitat so I can carry higher deer numbers yet maintain a 2:1 doe buck ratio if I can (example 30 does and 15 bucks) and that requires that I harvest up to a dozen does per year on my farm. Your goals may be very different but understanding the carrying capacity of your land is extremely important if you desire to manage your land for whitetails of which a percentage should be mature bucks.

Unimproved property will most likely have low deer numbers at first but as habitat is improved numbers will increase and eventually antlerless harvest a necessity. Timber management, planting NWSG and growing the right combination of high yielding crops that provide high quality forage year around will allow you to hold high numbers of deer and thru managed harvests a proper balance of does to bucks. Things to consider when planning your whitetail habitat management program....
Understanding Whitetail Breeding

Enhancing and improving our habitat not only allows us to hold more/bigger whitetails but if we understand more about how they live, breed and travel we can also manipulate the habitat to increase hunting success. My friend Doug sent me a link to the SE Deer Study Group which in turn has the results of many great studies that may dispel myth's and and allow us to manage our deer herd and hunt more effectively.

Southeast Deer Study

The following is extremely important information because knowing that buck travel during the rut is not random and will be repeated, we can create funnels and hunt those travel corridors confidently.

Male White-tailed Deer Movement Patterns During the Rut: Chaotic or Strategic?

Aaron M. Foley, Randy DeYoung, David Hewitt – Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute; Mickey Hellickson – King Ranch; Karl V. Miller – University of Georgia; Ken Gee – Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation; Mitch Lockwood – Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Because white-tailed deer are not easily observed and conventional radio-telemetry does not allow for fine-scale movement investigations, descriptions of male breeding strategies is lacking. Most does are bred during a 2 to 4 week period and individual does are receptive for only 1 to 2 days. The short time window suggests males would have a strategy to locate receptive does rather than wandering randomly. To address this question, we captured and GPS-collared 106 adult male white-tailed deer across 4 years in South Texas. Radio-collars recorded locations every 15 to 20 minutes during late October to mid-February, which covered the entire breeding season.

Males did not wander widely during peak rut; only 30% of their home ranges were utilized. Instead of roaming widely, most males had 2 or more focal points of activity within their home ranges. Focal points were 60-140 acres in size. During peak rut, focal points were re-visited frequently and most males visited focal points every 20 to 28 hours.

Because females are in estrus for about 24 hours, our data suggest that males space their visits to assess female receptiveness. Furthermore, focal points of several individual males overlapped with other bucks which suggest many bucks visited the same doe groups during peak rut. Our data improve understanding of how males search for females, the white-tailed deer breeding system, and the use of spatial memory while searching for resources.

There are even more misconceptions about peak breeding itself, when and why it occurs...if we don't see bucks we are certain the rut is over or hasn't started or they are in "lockdown" so the following may help you better understand the truth about this subject.

Peak Breeding - As Reliable as the Sun

As Reliable as the Sun – Our biologist examines the rut peaks across the country.
August 9, 2011
By Buckmasters’ Bob Humphrey – View PDF

Peak rut represents an annual high point for deer hunters and the bucks they pursue. It’s not surprising that predicting when it will occur is the hottest topic in whitetail hunting.

Theories abound, based on a host of factors including temperature, barometric pressure, wind speed, type and amount of precipitation, moon phase, the earth’s gravitational pull and the brown and white bands on a wooly bear caterpillar.

The fact is, predicting when the peak of rut will occur is not difficult, and there’s no secret formula.

Whitetail breeding is based on photoperiodism — changes in the amount of daylight. Because fall daylight diminishes at the same rate and time every year, the rut happens at the same time, with very little exception. That’s no casual affirmation. It’s based on years of research from every state and province where whitetails live.

If you want to know when the peak of the rut occurs, you don’t need meteorological charts or crystal balls. Call your state biologist, or read on. We’ve done it for you.

Putting known, factual information together with our own observation on our land can allow us to make positive changes to our habitat that can increase the odds of a successful encounter with a mature whitetail buck...

Feeding area layout

Pictured is an example layout that has been a work in progress for many years now, the combination of tree orchards, year around food sources, screening and hinging to create thick adjacent cover has proven very effective.


Apples, pears, paw paws, persimmons and others provide soft mast from mid summer, chestnuts are irresistible early fall treats and hybrid native oaks provide sweet, low tannin acorns unlike anything the neighbors have.

The beauty of this is one can buy and fence/tube a couple trees a year if budget is tight and before you know it, your whitetail oasis is well on it's way.

Oikos Tree Crops is a great source for potted chestnut and oak seedlings.

Burnt Ridge Nursery has economically priced fruit and nut trees.

A variety of other sources can supply larger quantities at lower prices but new landowners often can not afford that many trees...

When I get where I'm going....don't cry for me down here...

Joshua 24:15 "...as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Dbltree Habitat Enhancement - Paul & Jesse Knox Birmingham, Iowa
dbltree2000@yahoo.com jknox0623@gmail.com
Lost Arrow...One of the few threads I have printed and in a folder is Paul's "Getting Started" thread. Habitat managers encyclopedia.
Lost Arrow...One of the few threads I have printed and in a folder is Paul's "Getting Started" thread. Habitat managers encyclopedia.
I have read it many times over on outreach outdoors but I never went past the first page. I didn't know there was so much more information after that. Bringing the thread over here I learned how much more information was in that thread. I am going to try and bring some of his other threads over here when I am not so busy.

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My favorite LC pics are those showing the vegetation surrounding his plots. We can all sweat over the best food plot mix, but that thick habitat and screening is where its at. Again, thanks for taking the time to post LC's thread.
My favorite LC pics are those showing the vegetation surrounding his plots. We can all sweat over the best food plot mix, but that thick habitat and screening is where its at. Again, thanks for taking the time to post LC's thread.
I'm working on bringing his timber thread over here now wish covers hinge cutting and creating thick cover and browse.