Friday, April 6, 2012

Spring Scouting & Mineral Sites

With the spring "green up" encroaching a little bit earlier than normal this year, I've really been wanting to get out and walk the entire "G" farm and neighboring field. Not only to see if I can get lucky and stumble upon a shed or two, but more importantly, I wanted to really spend some time stomping through the portions of the woods that I left mostly undisturbed last season. The other part of my mission was to get a mineral site or two established, not only to help provide some extra nutrition to the local herd that uses the property, but to also help add some extra attraction or holding power to the property.

With only a few hours available on a Saturday afternoon to get everything done that I wanted to do, I set out with my buddy Adam to walk some miles. From a big picture, scouting perspective what I took away was that last season I hunted good areas in general. However, there are better spots within the core of the property that need attention. The majority of the woods are somewhat "open" in their feel, with pockets of "thicker" edges at the far south east corner, as well as along the eastern edge of the creek that meanders along the western edge of the woods. These areas contained higher concentrations of sign (well used trails, rubs, etc.) which makes sense seeing as deer typically as edge related critters.

Later that night I looked back upon the day, and made some additional notes on the aerial map of the property to help me remember where I want to prepare some stand sites in the coming summer months. Not too much has changed form my initial map markings of prospective stand sites when I first gained access to the property last summer, but with bow hunting being a game of details, those initial first impression stand sites just need some further refinement. So, from a scouting perspective, that mission was accomplished.

Next on the agenda was establishing a mineral site or two, depending on the results from the scouting venture. The mineral mixture I used was a blend of a few products that were picked up at the local feed store, and should be enough to last at least a season or two. My buddy Jesse has an absolutely great write up on the "why's" & "how to's" of minerals, with the specific mixture that I used is in his article on

After picking up the secret ingredients, I set to mixing up a few buckets worth in order to get the new sites established. Using an empty coffee canister as my measuring cup I poured out the equal parts called for in Jesse's recipe.

Then I simply poured the minerals from one 5 gallon bucket to an empty bucket, doing this back & forth several times (in the painting world this is called "boxing" together) until they were pretty well equally distributed.

After walking around and analyzing everything a bit more, it was decided that I would start off with two mineral sites at opposite ends of the woods. Viewing the sites from the aerial map, the distance doesn't look too far apart from one another, but from a two legs on the ground vantage point they sure are. The first site selected was at the far south east corner of the woods. There is actually a small 5 acres square extending off of the main block that extends outward like an "L" and touches the north west corner of the neighboring property. This formation funnels the deer movement from one block of woods to the other, and the amount of heavily used trails & clusters of rubbed up trees made establishing a site towards the "G" farm woods a optimal choice for allowing the deer to find and establish the new site.

Mineral site to be established at the base of the fallen tree pictured towards the center left above.

Minerals poured onto the stump, then using a hatchet to hack up the stump & mix the minerals into the wood and surrounding ground.

Moving along and up to the second site, I decided to put this one where there was more sign during the season. The highest concentration of scrapes was within this corner, as well as along the entire western edge of the field. The largest scrape within the woods stayed active from probably mid October through early December. The far western edge has an outside corner that is about 2/3 of the way up the block of woods. The ground here is one of the higher points of the property, contains a decently used trail following between the edge of the woods and the creek winding through. We'll see what happens I guess...

Using another downed & decomposing tree just a yard or so off of the main trail. 
All mixed in and ready for consumption.
I'll be able to check in on the progress of these sites later in April when back out at the property to try chasing some spring turkeys. Hopefully we'll have some signs of the deer starting to use the sites, and if I'm even luckier maybe a punched turkey tag.