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Blog Entries from the WeHuntSC.com blogging crew

WeHuntSC.com - Intro to Game Management
In this blog series we've looked into concepts, practices, and management tactics for managing deer on one's property. We've studied food plotsselective harvest, herd balancemineral sitessupplemental feedsdeer surveying, & water sources, but we still have one more item to cover so let's get to it. 
WeHuntSC.com - HabitatIt seems that game management can be divided into two categories: habitat management & population management. Habitat management describes the work we do to manage the environment in which the deer live while population management describes how we manage the deer themselves. Both of these management aspects are connected. We've looked a several concepts and practices that affect, enhance, or alter a deer's habitat, but we haven't really focused on the overall habitat from a broader perspective. 
Several of the game management concepts we've examined in some way helps enrich a deer's habitat.  The underlying goal for managing the habitat is to create an environment that fosters successful growth and allows deer to easily thrive.  A deer?s health usually linked to the condition of their habitat, so if monsters bucks are one?s desired goal, then a habitat that can support growth and development is essential.
A whitetail deer can adapt to virtually any habitat. Evidence of this is the simple fact that whitetail deer are present in nearly every region of North America. A whitetail deer's habitat in South Carolina may be totally different from other states/regions and for that matter the habitat in South Carolina alone differs greatly just from the low-country, to the coastal areas, to the Sandhills, to the Piedmont, and to the upstate. If you've hunted around different parts of the state then you've seen the habitat differences around South Carolina.
A deer's habitat generally consists of a variety of areas such as swamps, hardwoods, fields, and sometimes even urban areas. Ultimately deer need places for cover, feeding, bedding, locations with water sources, and locations of safety. When considering one's hunting property a look from the perspective of habitat can prove beneficial.
Techniques for habitat management
The habitat management concepts we've mentioned previously in this blog series have been food plots, mineral sites, water sources, and supplemental feeds. All of those practices are mechanisms that add to a deer's habitat to assist in providing deer with nutrients they need throughout the year. There are a few more things we can do to help manage our deer's habitat. 
Some game managers use controlled burning as a technique to increase forage quality and improving the habitat for wild game. I found a great article on deer habitat improvement through burning on BuckManager.com. I wouldn't naturally think of burning being associated with game management, but it can provide benefits for the habitat.
I've also heard experienced hunters who practice game management note that on their property there is always about 1/4th of their land that they never set foot on. The thought behind this practice is that deer need a portion of the land where they feel comfortable and secure.They need a safe-haven that is undisturbed.This tactic helps keep deer on one's property and also gives them a feeling of security. By allowing them an area of complete safety a hunter increases chances that deer will hold near, if not on, his/her land. 
Having an awareness of a deer's current habitat along with the needs of the deer can pay dividends for hunters. Knowledge of the habitat can help with one's hunting strategy along with helping a habitat manager figure out if enhancing the habitat makes sense. 
In some areas I hunt there are large fields that farmers farm every year. From a habitat perspective it probably wouldn't be the best move if I tried to plant a food plot near these fields. Maybe if I want the deer to simply stop to browse these areas, before heading to the other fields it would be a good idea, but from a nutrition standpoint it probably wouldn't serve the deer best. In this instance maybe a mineral site would be a better fit as it would offer a more diverse range of nutritional items a deer may be seeking. 
Wrapping it up
It's been a long blog series and hopefully someone has benefitted from my investigation into game management this year during deer hunting season. If you've read all these entries then kudos to you for sticking it out with me!  While I've only blogged about this during deer hunting season many facets of game management happen in the off-season.  True game management is a year-long process that takes dedication and commitment, but that hard work is well worth it when years of game management produces the trophy buck of a lifetime!

Mineral Sites

WeHuntSC.com - Intro to Game Management

In this blog series we?re looking at concepts, practices, and approaches that can aid in managing game in a hunter?s area. We?ve looked at food plots, selective harvest,deer surveying, and herd balance already in this series and in this entry we'll look into the concept of "mineral sites".

WeHuntSC.com - Game Management & Mineral SitesMineral sites, in many cases, are one of the most overlooked and underutilized parts of a game management strategy.  Mineral sites provide deer with great sources of vitamins and nutrients that they need throughout the year. We put in a lot of work creating food plots and we're selling ourselves short if we don't compliment them with mineral sites. Mineral sites are not too difficult to create and can pay big dividends in the long run.

Mineral sites provide similar benefits as food plots in that they help increase deer health which in turn helps them better survive the rut and the winter. Having a healthy deer, whether it be a doe or a buck, is great for the whole herd when it comes to breeding, reproduction, and survival. Most importantly for those seeking "monster bucks", mineral sites are great locations where bucks will get nutrients that aid in rack growth and development.  A buck's antlers grow during the summer months and this is the time when they will really visit mineral sites.

WeHuntSC.com - A Deer at a Mineral Site in SCIt's a good practice to keep mineral sites in a consistent location year after year. Rain helps the minerals dissolve into the soil which creates a location that will be frequented by deer long after the minerals are no longer visible. Hang a game camera up over a mineral site and watch the pictures as time passes. The results may be surprising and this is a great way to survey your deer. Just ask anyone that keeps mineral sites year after year, the deer will literally dig a hole in the ground seeking out the minerals and nutrients. 

It's a good idea to start mineral sites in April, refresh them in July, then again in October. Experienced mineral site managers say it's good to have mineral sites along a deer's travel route in a low spot that can hold moisture. Hunters who I know that are serious about game management keep minerals sites year round in various parts of their hunting properties.

One thing to clarify though, don't confuse simply putting out a salt-block with creating a mineral site, they are two different things! A mineral site usually has a mixture of nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sulfur, potassium, and several different types of vitamins which greatly benefit deer. 

There are several mineral site products available for purchase and I'm not going to endorse any certain one because communicating the principal of why hunters should create mineral sites is my main goal here. Each product will have different methods for implementation so be sure to read the directions for whichever product you select.

Start a mineral site and see what happens!



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