When it comes to hunting “Monster Bucks” one thing is for certain, a successful hunter will go the extra mile to learn everything possible about his quarry. One of the tactics I have used to help me score on big bucks consistently over the years, involves establishing mineral sites and monitoring them with trail cameras. Not only does this allow me to watch his antlers develop, but I also gain valuable clues to his travel patterns. Another benefit to this strategy is helping to optimize a bucks potential growth by making the correct nutrition available to him. You may be asking yourself when is the best time to put this plan into action, and I say right now!
Once I’ve completed my post season scouting, I begin my mineral site regimen. During the last couple months I have used the telltale signs left behind from last season to locate a giant bucks core area, figure out his travel patterns, and determine where his weak spot is. Knowing that these particular weak spots are where I feel I have my best chance at harvesting him come bow season, this is exactly where I start my first mineral sites. The reason for establishing sites in this location is two-fold. First, I have found that I have better luck getting a dominant buck to use my site if its in line with his established travel pattern already, and he doesn’t have to go out of his way to find it. Secondly and more importantly, when season opens and he visits my site, I will know exactly when he is traveling through the area which just happens to be within bow range of my treestand. This last part is vitally important and worth elaborating on. Not only do I go to great lengths figuring out the best place to harvest a mature buck, but I look for spots that allow me to get in and out undetected. If I can establish a mineral site within bow range of this area and get a buck used to frequenting it 5-6 months before season, my trail cameras will tell me exactly when I need to be in that stand! By intentionally picking these locations on the outer edges of a bucks bedding area, I will also keep disturbance to a minimum when I have to visit the site to replenish mineral or service my cameras.
When it comes to minerals, I have had consistent success with products from the Whitetail Institute. Along with 30-06, there line up of “Cutting Edge” minerals including “Initiate”, “Optimize” and “Sustain” give deer exactly what they need at the specific time of the season they need it most! My approach to keeping tabs on these areas may be different from some, but has worked well for me in the past. During the off season, timing isn’t as critical as it is come September and October. Therefore, I will use a traditional trail camera like a Cuddeback which takes still images or other models that record video clips that need to be manually downloaded. When hunting season draws near, I will switch to a camera like the SmartScouter that will send pictures to me wirelessly. This enables me to both eliminate disturbance in the area and to receive pictures in realtime so I know exactly when a monster buck is in the area!
Mineral sites and trail cameras are important tools in my arsenal when it comes to keeping tabs on monster bucks. Right now is a great time of the year to establish these areas, and not only can we help a buck maximize his growth, this technology helps us figure out another piece to the puzzle of hunting giant whitetails!