Outdoors Column: Lip Smacking Good

Salt is an important dietary supplement for people and animals. People have no problem getting more than enough salt is their regular diets, but animals do not have option, especially herbivores. Grass and twigs to not have the salt required by grazing and browsing animals. In preparation for moving the horses to fresh pasture, I put out a trace mineral block. This contains salt and other minerals horses need. I put a camera near the block, just to see what would come to it.


I did not get around to moving the horses right away. Two weeks went by before I checked the camera. It is fairly common to have twenty to thirty pictures per week and each camera. This shows the normal comings and goings of the resident wildlife population. When I got the memory card out of the trail camera near the mineral block, there were seven hundred and twenty-six pictures on it. I thought there must be a malfunction, or I had a memory card that had not been erased in the past several months. This was not the case. There really were seven hundred and twenty-six new pictures. A branch or weed blowing in the wind will sometimes trigger the camera. This gives the viewer a chance to look at a whole lot of nothing going on. This was also not the case, thankfully.


When I started reviewing the pictures, I found many different deer stopped by and most of them stayed for a period of time. It is difficult to tell one doe from another, unless they have a distinguishing scar or marking. Bucks are easy to tell apart as no two sets of antlers are the same. The camera is set to take a picture once each minute when it detects motion. One young buck moved in and out of the range of the camera for two hours one afternoon. There were about twenty pictures of him as he moved up to the block, licked it for a while and walked away, only to return in five or ten minutes. He seemed to enjoy having his picture taken. I have one picture of him staring into the camera, licking his lips. It was though he was saying “thank you, I needed that”.

The date indicator on the pictures showed, each day, a few more deer would come to the mineral block. Word got out, there was a new block in town. With the does both nursing their fawn or fawns from this year and getting ready to breed this fall and the bucks rapidly growing new antlers, the salt and minerals must be craved and badly needed