On July 14th, we started a process to evaluate the ability of five different products to attract deer to our mineral station. The products were set out for one week and monitored by a trail camera. Each week the SD card was pulled and the photos counted to determine what species of animal hit the mineral station. We separated the deer into bucks, does, and fawns.
A hit was counted if the deer's face was down at or actually licking the mineral station. If the deer was standing at the station, but looking up or around it was not counted as a hit.
On previous blogs, I attempted to log the weekly results with the first two products tested. Time simply got away from me and I didn't report out on the last three weeks of the test period. As a result, I wanted to wrap this up with a complete report just on the deer group hits and discuss my perception of the results. Perception is simply your personal reality. I say that as I'm sure there will be comments on the validity of this study. Each visitor to this blog will perceive the results differently. As always, all I ask is that you do not go out and buy this product solely on these results. These are my results. You should make an informed decision before purchasing any of the five products tested. I am not sponsored by any of these products, so I have no monetary stake in this.
I put out products each year in the hopes to attract the deer and basically complete an informal camera survey. I want to know each year how the fawns are doing and see the continued growth of the buck racks. Mission accomplished this year! We know we have three fawns that have run together all summer long. We also have a good idea of the resident bucks on the property. Hopefully as the velvet is shed, we will have a better idea of what these bucks will score and can estimate age of each for the fall hit list.
I have put together the graph below that shows each of the five products tested with the date range and the number of hits for each deer group (buck, doe, or fawn).
Personal Perceptions (my reality):
1. Big & J BB2 Granular: Draws the largest number of deer, especially does. I'm not really interested in does as much as the fawns and bucks, but they obviously like this product. It could be the grain added to the product. What I listed in the previous blogs was that this product pulled raccoon in from the three county area, which is not desired. Either way, you will have to put out several bags of this to keep animals returning, which isn't cost effective.
2. Trophy Rock: Good product in my opinion. You can see in the graph numbers that this attracted fewer deer and does in general, when compared to BB2. Buck hits stayed relatively the same. Product lasts a long time and doesn't require much maintenance. This is by far the most popular attractant as outlined in the previous blog. http://www.allthingswhitetail.com/1/post/2013/08/survey-update-results.html
3. Luck Buck: Most obvious data swing for this product was buck hits. This could have been primarily due to the time of year with bucks making a last ditch effort to hit the minerals. Tough to say, and I obviously have no scientific data either way. This is just a possible cause that led to the number increase.
4. Redmond Mineral: Very even numbers between the deer groups (buck, doe, fawn). I can't help but recognize the huge swing for fawn hits. This is much higher than any of the five products put out for sampling. The buck number is similar to the Lucky Buck. The doe hits dropped drastically, which was great to see since I got tired of counting does with the first three products.
5. Kraze: This product has been discussed among other QDMer's as being the best product to attract bucks to see what you have in your local herd. I'd have to agree with that statement. You see the number of buck hits was the highest on the graph and the number of doe and fawn hits dropped compared to the other products. Again, was this a function of the time of year as bucks prepare to shed velvet and finish antler growth? It might be interesting to reverse the order next year to see if the numbers are similar for Kraze.
Overall Personal Conclusions:
a. I will not use BB2 simply due to the number of raccoon attracted. Plus the number of doe visits was obnoxious.
b. I like Kraze the best to monitor buck numbers with limited hits from does and fawns. I'll probably purchase only one bag each year due to the cost per pound.
c. I think Redmond mineral will be my primary product of choice in future years. It has an even number of hits between the groups and drew in a high number of bucks.
d. I like the Redmond mineral based also on cost per pound. I purchased the 50# bag for $11. A huge savings compared to the other products when you look at cost per pound.
This may not have produced any scientific data that the huge mineral industry can use, but that wasn't my goal going into it. First and foremost, I had fun doing this and have a better idea of what products I like and what I will avoid. I appreciate your time to review my personal findings. Follow us on Facebook or subscribe to the website on the Home / Sponsors or About Us / Contacts pages. Good luck preparing for the '13 season. It is almost here.
A month has past since we first sprayed the GroPal Foliar Sea Mineral onto half of our WI Clover and Chickory plot. As you recall, our initial purpose of this little experiment was to determine 1.) Do deer prefer GroPal during browsing? 2.) Will GroPal improve plant life and increase growth? Today we tried to answer the second goal by measuring plant growth between the GroPal and Non GroPal Clover and Chickory. You will have to excuse the camera work as I was filming alone today. My camera crew was busy cutting the grass at home and cleaning up around the yard. Now that school is in session, they must do this on weekends.
The growth results are rather interesting. There was a visible height difference within the utilization cages. The GroPal plants were roughly 2" taller than the plants not sprayed with GroPal. For the Clover, this was even more evident when we pulled samples and laid them out on the plywood we had staged in the field. I saw a visible difference in the health of the plants. They were greener and fresher looking than the non GroPal plants. We have not had any rain for a few days, so it is beginning to get a little dry. I can't say for certain that the GroPal plants had more moisture, but they just appeared to be healthier overall.
My application of GroPal is in addition to the normal soil amendments applied each spring. I have posted my soil sampling practices previously on this blog, so hopefully there are no more concerns about neglect of basic soil management practices as a part of this process.
I'm sure these results and this particular blog will resurface the debates and critical feedback regarding this experiment. Again, I am not sponsored by GroPal and I am only doing this to share what I have learned from this process. Please do not buy GroPal or any other product based solely on my personal results. Make an informed purchase and test it yourself. You may get different results. As far as my opinion, GroPal makes a difference. I think it can increase the tonnage in my plots, which could be huge once the snow starts flying. A couple of inches of growth might provide the carrying capacity my herd needs through late January and February.
Good luck with your plots, and I appreciate the time you have taken to review this blog and the attached video and photos below. Like us on Facebook and keep checking back for new entries.
Earlier entries in the blog included a couple of surveys. I felt like it was time to post the results of those surveys. Granted I would like to have more entries to better solidify the data; however, I think this will work at this point.
Attractant / Mineral Product Use Survey: The purpose of this survey was to see what others are using to attract deer. Results are pretty clear that Trophy Rock is the preferred product.
The last survey completed was on Fall Protection Practices. Although the views on this particular blog entry were the highest to date, very few entries were entered. As a result, there is very few data on this. But, I thought I would list it anyway.
The majority only tie off once in the stand. Frankly I don't understand this practice given the climb and act of stepping into the stand is the riskiest part of the process. Second was using fall protection 100% of the time. I applaud those who take the extra steps to protect themselves completely. Your families appreciate it also.
The second week of the mineral station trial, study, experiment, test, whatever you want to call it was completed last Sunday. It seems that calling this and other blog entries a "test" ruffles a few feathers because I don't have a hypothesis, theory, and all other scientific parameters that go with a professional study or experiment. Before you read any further, understand this is just something I am doing and wish to share with those willing to read and possibly learn from my mistakes and hopefully successes. I could see how some may interpret this as my inability to take criticism. I don't have a problem with it as long as it is constructive and not just pot shots.
I'm not trying to sway you to buy this product vs. another product. By all means, make an educated decision before you buy a single product for the QDM effort. I'm not sponsored by any of these companies. I chose to buy these products out of my own pocket. This is just a means of extending my hobby and an attempt to try to learn more. I'm sure there are errors and flaws in my process, but hey....I'm not perfect. As with most advancements in this world, QDM comes from trial and error. I'm sure most of you have tried something at your property and later realized that it was probably the wrong thing to do. So I'll end my soap box speech now and move on with the topic at hand.....
Trophy Rock was put out following the week of BB2. The results were rather interesting and there are few observations. If they have any pertinent meaning I'm sure will be debated. Animal hits and percentages were as follows:
1. Deer 193 (96.0%)
a. Doe 149 (74.1%)
b. Bucks 32 (15.9%)
c. Fawns 12 (6.0%)
2. Raccoon 2 (1.0%)
3. Rabbit 6 (3.0%)
4. Squirrels 0
5. Possums 0
6. Coyote 0
7. Total Hits 201 (100%)
8. Total Photos 558
a. Raccoon hits dropped significantly from 252 down to 2 (99% decrease). This is excellent given I didn't want them to pressure deer from visiting the station.
b. Total deer hits dropped from 456 to 193 (58% decrease). Is this from the raccoon pressure, the lack of corn product, or some other factor? Not enough information to tell. Hopefully this is not due to the raccoons.
c. Buck visits only dropped 9% from 35 down to 32, which is good. I don't think that small difference is significant. I'd like to see more buck visits though. The photos indicate the growth is really happening at this point in time.
d. Fawn visits dropped 76%. From a predator perspective, I don't know if I like that or not. If they form a pattern too much by visiting the station, does this increase the risk of attack by coyotes? So maybe this is good, but it definitely is an interesting question.
e. Total animal hits down 72% from 727 down to 201. Even with the raccoons present, did the BB2 draw in more animals making it a better product in the grand scheme? The fact the buck hits stayed close to the same is huge to me. I'd prefer overall less animals provided the buck visits stay relatively the same.
I like the Trophy Rock product and use it each year. I like it primarily because it allows me to use the cameras to inventory the deer herd and see the antler growth on the bucks. Scientifically, I'm not going to debate if it helps the herd health. Logic would lead a person to believe it does since deer eat what they need and like, kind of like humans. Well, some of us eat food that isn't good for us. I'd hope that mother nature keeps that from happening with the wild animals.
Check back again for the Lucky Buck results soon. Sorry for blogging these results so late. It was a busy week.
On 7/21/13 we visited the mineral station again to determine the results from the week of Big & J BB2 Granular. I have posted a picture of the product ingredients below. Upon our return, there was nothing left at the station as evident in the video below. Animal hits and percentages caught on camera were as follows:
1. Whitetail Deer - 456 (62.7%)
a. Bucks - 35 (4.8%)
b. Does - 370 (50.9%)
c. Fawns - 51 (7.0%)
2. Raccoon - 252 (34.7%)
3. Squirrel - 6 (0.8%)
4. Possum - 9 (1.2%)
5. Coyote - 1 (0.1%)
6. Rabbit - 3 (0.4%)
7. Total Hits - 727 (62.8% of the total photos)
8. Total Photos - 1158
*Note: A single photo may have had more than one type of animal in it, thus each was counted (e.g., one photo having 5 raccoons was counted as 5 hits)
As you can see from the counts and the slideshow below, the raccoons were a huge problem and accounted for much of the reduction in available product. Prior to this particular product, I had little to no raccoons hitting the mineral station. Obviously much of this has to do with the corn content of the product.
The amount of raccoon traffic is very disappointing from several angles. One, I think they impact the deer who don't want to fight with other animals for product. Two, the raccoon population is far greater than I really want on this property. Three, the large numbers will make it difficult for other game animals, such as turkey given these are known egg eaters.
I paid $20 for a 20# bag. For that cost, I can't afford to feed raccoons who will eventually scavenge turkey eggs and possibly run off or pressure deer from using the mineral station. As a result, I have elected not be using any more of this particular attractant.
Keep checking in or like us on Facebook so you can see regular updates on the blog regarding this experiment. You can also subscribe to our site at the bottom of the home page to receive emails each time the blog is updated. Thank you for your time.
Several have weighed in and the results are listed below. I admit that not all products were listed in the survey. At that time, my list of attractants was not complete and may never be for that matter. That is kind of the purpose of this website. Thirty-one responses with feedback and suggestions on products they prefer. Results are as follows to date:
This blog topic created much buzz and conversation regarding the ability to actually determine what is best for deer, the contents of each product, and the true scientific nature of such an experiment. Here is the bottomline.....I wanted feedback on what the visitors use as an attractant. Based on the above responses, I think it is clear that the vast majority of visitors to this website and answering this survey prefer to use Trophy Rock as an attractant.
As the experiment continues with our first test product results this weekend, I don't expect to determine how effective the product is at developing antler growth. What I do expect to be able to measure is the number of deer visiting the station. I can compare those numbers between products tested, regardless if it is salt based, contains corn, etc. I want to know what is the best attractant.
Why would I want to know which product is the best attractant? Like many of you, I've got my trail cameras out taking inventory of the deer herd. I'd like to photo and capture the development of the antlers on the bucks returning from last year. This kind of keeps me charged up during the dog days of summer.
I also hope that drawing deer in with an attractant will introduce individual deer to the habitat that I have worked so hard to improve. I'm not saying I can draw deer in for miles with these products, so please comment on other aspects. What I am hoping is that as a deer is wandering around, that he or she samples the attractant and begins to take inventory of what is around and available. Maybe they will call my 63 acres home instead of the neighbors place.
One other comment.....I am not sponsored by any of the products being tested. If that happens at some point, I will provide full disclosure. I just thought it would be a good topic for discussion and blogging on this website. I think the mission was accomplished!
Depending on the state you are in, the use of minerals and attractants may or may not be allowed. If allowed in your state, how much time and money do you spend on these products? This market segment for whitetail hunting continues to grow with each manufacturer stating they provide that magic bullet for growing monster racks and improving herd health.
I believe there are pluses to using minerals and attractants for whitetails. The trail camera photos prove that deer are definitely come to these products. What all of us really want to know are answers to these three simple questions....
1. Which product is the best to attract deer?
2. Which product benefits the whitetail deer the most?
3. Is the answer to the above two questions the exact same product?
Based on hunting stand observations, it is clear that deer eat what they want. Logic can naturally lead us to believe they eat what they want because of the increased benefit. For example, during the winter months what do you think a deer will forage on first? A green honeysuckle bush or the woody browse on a small tree with all of the leaves fallen off? Of course, they prefer the green forage. The truly unknown is to what extent that deer benefit from minerals and attractant products.
On 7/14/13, I plan on beginning a weekly experiment for the next five weeks to determine which of the products I typically use, answers the first question above. I'm not a scientist and have no means of answering question #2 with a valid experiment (if you know of one, please go to my contacts page and send me a comment with details). However, to answer the first question I will be putting out the following five products in this order:
I will have a trail camera observing the site and report out on how many times individual deer hit the product. The count will simply be based on the number of times pictures are taken with deer at the site. I will report out on the results each week in this blog. Please answer the survey below on what mineral / attractant product you prefer.
I appreciate the many individuals who have visited our young website. Wow….only a couple of days online and I’m already writing about one of the most controversial topics associated with whitetails, CWD and the use of mineral stations. One of the visitors today sent me a comment regarding the photo on the Plot / Herd Mgt. Links page. I guess I had not thought about the many perspectives and opinions associated with the use of mineral stations. I posted the photo in the heading because it shows three fawns with a doe. My camera didn’t effectively capture if there was another mother standing behind the scenes so I can’t positive say that these are triplets. Maybe I need to take the plunge and purchase one of the new Moultrie Panoramic 150. However, the possibility of the doe in the photo having triplets is very appealing to me and leads me to think my local habitat and QDM efforts are supporting a healthy herd. I’m hoping to get additional photos of this group to either prove or disprove if these are triplets, twins, or just three single fawns that travel together. More to come….
The comment from the site visitor was a concern that I should not be using a mineral station for the fear of spreading CWD. Currently there is no law in Indiana that prevents the use of mineral stations, aside from the fact you cannot hunt over a mineral station or other form of bate. The concern led me to research the Indiana DNR Dept. of Fish and Wildlife website to find out if Indiana has had any reports of CWD. Although I was pretty sure none had been reported, I felt obligated to confirm in response to his concern.
Yep, “CWD has not been reported in Indiana.” Refer to the following link and scroll down to the section marked “No reports in Indiana”. I also checked regarding the release of penned deer from the Jackson Co. farm back in October of last year. Although the DNR was concerned about the possible exposure of these deer to CWD prior to arriving in Indiana, I have not found any resources stating there was a positive case of CWD from these escapees.
I have also copied the following posting from the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance website…….
I understand that many states outlaw the use of mineral stations. The concern that CWD can be transmitted at a mineral station will continue to be debated. My stance is that deer are extremely social animals and based on my camera photos come into contact with each other throughout the year. I believe the health benefit with the mineral stations is extensive and necessary. The three fawns in the picture would most likely be licking and contacting each other regardless of the mineral station. That is just what fawns do. I just hope they get enough of that mineral to become booners some day.
Thanks for reading and keep those comments and suggestions coming.
Andy Hayes is a devoted husband and father of 4 kids living in West Central Indiana. Outside of his family, his passion is hunting whitetails. He does not claim to be a professional hunter, but simply wants to share what he learns during his quest to improve whitetail habitat and hunt mature bucks.