By Mike Giles
The Meridian Star
Finding trophy bucks was almost impossible just a short time ago, but with the use of game cameras and mineral licks, hunters have been astonished to learn what they have on their lease and just how many quality bucks may be using their properties under the cover of darkness.
Part of the equation for harvesting mature bucks is letting them walk until they reach at least 4.5 years old,” said Cade Hawkins. Proper management of the habitat and deer herd are key components as well. “With the use of mineral licks and game cameras we know exactly how many bucks we have and can keep up with them through the summer and fall,” Hawkins said. “If they make it through a couple hunting seasons, we are usually able keep track of them over a period of years if they survive.”
Bow shop owner Ricky Kennon was looking for a good product to attract deer and decided to make his own blend that would be good for the general health of the herd and also attract deer. Kennon formulated a blend he named Red Spot Plus. “Ricky told me about it and kind of challenged me to use it and try it for myself,” said Hawkins. “I tried it and it looked like a pig pen around the mineral site. Then I introduced it to several landowners and everybody had good results with it. It sold me on the benefits that's for sure.”
“Now why might a person use Red Spot Plus, or Primos Red Spot Plus mineral attractant you might ask?” queried Hawkins. According to Hawkins the benefits are many. “Of course the first benefit is attracting big bucks and being able to see what’s on your hunting property,” Hawkins said. “You’ve got to find them before you can hunt them, and game cam pictures on the mineral sites help us do that.”
“Once you get the mineral site up and going and deer are using it, then you can check your camera about once a month,” he said. “After establishing several new mineral sites and putting trail cameras on them I became a believer,” Hawkins said.
Cort Walker’s Red Spot Trophy
Within the first month of monitoring the mineral sites with photos in 2011, Hawkins spotted one deer that stood out from the rest, a 10 point that looked to be mature. “I kept track of that buck throughout the summer of 2011 and then lost him in October,” said Hawkins. “He showed back up for one picture in late January, and I was pretty sure he would survive the hunting season.” Hawkins had some doubts about the deer’s survival, but was pleasantly surprised when he showed back up on a mineral site on the west side of the property in August of 2012.
“In September he was more centrally located on the property, probably due to the crops being harvested on the west side,” Hawkins said. “In October he had moved back to the far east side of the property where I had first spotted him on my game camera in 2011. He was using three different mineral sites throughout the property now.”
In November the buck created a scrape about 20 feet from a mineral lick and he was captured on several photos. “By December he continued to visit the scrape each week, but always after dark and he appeared to be headed toward a large food plot a couple hundred yards away,” said Hawkins. “I never got pictures of him at the food plot but felt sure he was using it, so I told my hunting partner I thought he could be killed there if he would show up in the daylight hours.”
Stacy Walker and her ten-year-old son, Cort, were hunting from an elevated box stand overlooking that food plot late one afternoon in January, just hoping for a chance to catch a glimpse of the trophy buck. “They were watching several deer feed in the plot when Stacy noticed a deer coming out of the woods,” said Hawkins. It only took a quick glance at the buck with her binoculars for her to realize he was a shooter buck.
“Cort, shoot that deer,” Stacy Walker said. Before she could give him further instructions on making the shot Cort pulled the trigger, the rifle roared and the bullet struck the buck’s vitals.
“The buck made a short dash and piled up in the field,” said Hawkins. The youngster harvested the buck of his lifetime and the 10 point scored 153 Boone and Crocket points!
“Finding and monitoring this deer right up until he was harvested with the use of mineral sites made a believer out of me for Red Spot Plus,” exclaimed Cade Hawkins! The veteran hunter has used the mineral licks to inventory the deer that live on their property and the surrounding area. “I look forward to hunting some of the other bucks that I know live there also, and it’s only because I have become aware of the benefits of mineral use,” he said. “By managing my property and by being a good steward of the land and animals, and by using minerals, I’m adding to the health and well being of the herd where I hunt as well,” Hawkins said.
Contact Mike Giles at 601-917-3898 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org