Often when putting out a salt block or mineral block, it’s for the best interest of the deer, even if you are using it as part of your baiting setup.
For this reason, we have come to discover that early spring is the best time to put out your salt block.
Before putting out a salt block, the first and most important thing you need to find out is whether it legal in your area.
Often, the regulations will tell you when you are allowed to put out salt blocks, if at all.
In some states, salt blocks are allowed for herd maintenance and not for baiting, which means they have to be brought in during hunting season.
In other areas, you cannot put out salt blocks at all.
When to Put out Salt Licks
Once you have checked your regulations and determined you are allowed to put out salt blocks, you can strategize where to put them.
However, the right timing is also crucial; we want to get the salts and minerals to deer when they need them most.
The best time for putting out your salt block is early spring, around March; this is a crucial time for deer.
Deer have just overcome a harsh season and will be looking to replenish nutrition through eating plenty and mineral consumption.
During this time, bucks have started growing new antlers and does are nursing or birthing fawns.
The nutrition requirement for both of these activities is large. By putting out your salt block in spring, you are ensuring bucks grow a healthy rack, and we know nutrition is the number one contributor to rack size.
You are also ensuring that fawns get a good start on life, hopefully growing up to be a healthy adults and thus strengthening the overall herd.
If you missed putting the salt block out during the spring, summer is the next best time to put it out.
Summer is still a growing phase for all deer. Does are still nursing, and bucks are still growing antlers up until August.
Another reason for salt blocks this time of year is to help with digestion. Deer eat the largest quantities of food this time of year.
The additional salt helps form hydrochloric acid, which helps aid the breakdown of food.
This is a handy pocket guide you can bring with you to the field. It will take you step by step on how to field dress big game animals
Not only do deer not use salt blocks much during the fall season, but it may also be illegal this time of year.
Some states require that salt blocks need to be removed before hunting season; these states only allow salt blocks as a herd management tool and not as a means of baiting.
If you are in one of these states, you are not missing out on much. From our observations, the use of salt blocks really starts to die off from around August, which makes perfect sense.
August is usually when antlers stop growing, the blood cells are starting to dry up, and the velvet is starting to dry out.
Bucks this time of year have consumed as much food and nutrition as they need to aid in antler growth and overall health.
Similarly does do not need as much nutrition either. Typically does give birth around April and June. Does will wean the fawn at 3 to 4 months old.
Now you may be thinking then it will still need salt in early fall. However, we have to remember that before the fawn is completely weaned, it needs to be already eating forage on its own.
This means by late summer; the fawn is already consuming less milk and more forage, therefore putting less nutritional requirements on the doe.
It’s a common misconception that deer need sale licks during winter. However, deer generally do not need salt in the winter.
Most deer have enough weight put on for the winter, and that is enough to get them through this time of year.
Bucks have not started growing new antlers yet and does are not heavily pregnant.
It’s also worth noting that deer like salt because it helps aid in hydrochloric acid, which helps break down food.
Deer are not consuming so much food during the winter that they would need extra help in breaking it down.
Public Land vs Private Land
Some states and counties have regulations regarding putting out salt licks on public land vs private.
In some areas, salt licks are allowed on private land but not on public land.
Many people with private land leave salt licks out all year round, and there is nothing wrong with this once it is legal in your area.
However, you are likely to see the same pattern as we did. Deer will be very active around the sale lick from around March to late August, and then the activity will die off.
To get the most out of your salt licks and do what’s best for the deer, you should be putting your salt lick out around March.
Deer have just overcome a hard period and will need to start consuming as much food and nutrition as possible.