A review of offerings at sporting goods stores reveals a myriad of products designed and marketed to attract deer to the hunter. Products, of course, fall into several categories, including food, dietary supplements, calls, decoys, musk and/or scents. Many of these products claim to deliver monster bucks for some unknown reason to anyone who applies them in the prescribed manner at the right time.
Although most products help a hunter increase their chances of success, this success is dependent upon the hunter understanding deer and how they react to nature and other influences. With this is mind, this article focuses on the various “supplemental” attractants used to attract white-tailed deer.
In Texas, it’s legal to hunt deer over a baited area, but hunting adjacent a feeder is not a perfect science. Deer will walk through scattered corn to get to a tree that is dropping acorns every time. Furthermore, deer may not even make themselves visible when habitat conditions are great – all while a mountain of corn grows under your feeder.
Another method to attract deer is to plant food plots. This falls under the same line of thinking as the “corn feeder” theory above. Both cater to hungry deer, but if they don’t need it or don’t prefer it, deer will not show up to eat it. In most parts of Texas, oats are the most common cool season plant grown for hunting plots. Sure, many legumes and clover mixes claim to have supernatural qualities that attract big bucks, but many of these plants are not suited to soils located on your property. Some plants will grow on your property, but make sure you get a soil test prior to buying a truck load of high-dollar seed and slinging it all over God’s creation.
A hunter can also attract deer can by providing food and mineral supplements that offer essential nourishment to the deer that are not being supplied by natural means. Don’t confuse a timed corn feeder or small hunting plot as “supplemental.” These things are bait. Supplemental food is forage that actually provides real nutrition for the animal, such as an “all they can eat” protein pellet or large food plot.
Deer eagerly seek foods that high in both fat and protein. These products are easy to apply and relatively inexpensive, especially compared to the cost of establishing a food plot. Furthermore, hunters who are restricted to a small area or a short hunting trip can benefit from these attractants, but some are nothing more than candy that come in the form of syrups, liquids, and jellies. Remember, they are designed to get deer hooked on a taste or sweet additive, so for the most part they are attractants, not supplements.
Providing salt and mineral supplements for wildlife is an accepted practice with obvious benefits, although doesn’t carry the reputation as a quick method of concentrating deer. Salt and minerals are distributed in the form of blocks or granules, but granulated salt should be placed in a hole and lightly covered with dirt. In this situation, deer and other wildlife will literally eat the dirt.
In short, all these products will actually help deer on your property if the products you are providing are found in limited quantities in the area. But remember, while a multitude of products are marketed to help hunters have a quick, successful hunt, there is still no substitute for knowing the habits of deer and properly managing the deer found on your property! Success will happen only when preparation and opportunity meet, so prepare now to increase your opportunity for success.