The fall and winter hunting seasons have all but ended. For many we find it time to get caught up on chores neglected months ago. For others, we find it time to prepare for the coming months and next season.
Here in the south, typically our winters are much milder than other places. With the occasional snow and ice storm, we are able to do a lot of things outside for most of the winter. This is the time when we like to get outside and get busy.
Usually before the end of the year, we have already taken our soil samples and sent them off for testing so we will know where to begin for the upcoming planting seasons. Late January and early February are my most favorite times to put out lime on our food plots. Lime is known to take a while to work itself into the soil. So for us, we like to put it out and disc it in ahead of the planting season so it has time to activate and benefit us the most later on. Here, we won't typically plant spring plots before the middle of March to the 1st half of April, so that gives it 1 ½ - 2 months. Whether you use pelletized or powdered lime, the decision is totally up to you.
Depending on the size of the areas you plant, you may find your decision easier to make. Bulk powdered lime can be obtained rather cheaply and cover large areas, while pelletized lime costs a little more and if you buy it in bags you can transport it easier into remote areas. Spreading powdered lime requires a drop type spreader towed behind a tractor or a four wheeler, while pelletized lime can be thrown through a rotary spreader behind a four wheeler or a tractor or a push spreader you walk behind.
Another thing we like to do is place our mineral licks out in January and February. During these months, does that were bred are pregnant and needing all the mineral and nutritional benefit they can get. Bucks also will be shedding their old head gear and beginning the development of the new antlered crown. Finding minerals with higher levels of magnesium, calcium, and phosphorous are believed to be the best directions to look for benefiting deer herd health. One common misconception is that a Trace Mineral Block is good enough. Fact is, it's just that, merely a trace of some elements in it. Others just put out plain white salt or rock salt. Again, there's nothing beneficial to bone growth or antler development in just plain salt.
We use a mixture that we concocted from the local feed store. We purchase 50 lb bags of white powdered salt and 50 lb bags of 2:1 Livestock Mineral Mix. Alone, the mineral mix is so bitter that hardly anything will like the taste of it. But mix it equally with salt as a teaser, and the deer blow it up! In days we will begin to get multiple pictures of deer devouring our mixtures. We like to dig ours in to the ground in a 3 foot square area and mix it up real good with the fresh dirt. Always make sure that you've selected a good area that will hold the minerals and not allow them to leak out with rains. You can put as much or as little as you want in a lick site, but we like to divide our mixture out between 2 or 3 lick sites and then refresh them in late May.
Good luck in your outdoor adventures!