You can use many tools while hunting. Attractants like salt blocks have become a popular choice, and you can flavor them as well to attract even more activity on your hunting property. Instead of chasing an elk, you can have them come to you. Will the elk go after a salt block? What reason do they go for them?
Do elk like salt blocks? Elk will travel great distances for a salt block. In some areas with high competition, the bulls may even fight for control over the salt blocks. Depending on the area, elk may prefer a certain type of salt block. For example, they may prefer a straight salt mix over a mineral mix.
Learn more about how to use salt blocks to attract the elk and why they like salt blocks to begin with. We will also learn about the difference between deer and elk when it comes to salt blocks. Stay tuned.
Why Do Elk Like Salt Blocks?
Elk like salt blocks because of the mineral found in salt blocks help them to recover after a long and harsh winter. Grass and shrubs lack the right nutrients for elk.
Some of the minerals found in salt blocks include magnesium, carbonates, sulfates, phosphorous and inorganic sulfur. Not only does it help them recover from a harsh winter, but the salt will help them to grow their antlers, which they chiefly use for mating as they spar over females for the right to mate.
The antlers tell the females about their health because it requires great energy to grow antlers. Salt blocks will also keep the coat of the elk in good condition, and it can add fat stores for a coming winter. Elk usually don’t receive this in their everyday diet.
They must consume salt for a healthy and functioning body. You can also put salt on the ground, and elk will come back to that spot from time to time to eat the dirt for the nutrients.
Fun History: Some major cities in the United States were settled because they sat next to a natural mineral deposit that the wildlife were using. Elk and deer seek it out as a necessity. For humans, it put them near the food.
How to Determine an Elk
You can tell that an elk was at the salt block over a deer in many cases because of how they will often take a bite out of it, rather than lick it. If you spot bite marks in the salt block, you more than likely have an elk doing it. You will also find that elk will go after salt more when their antlers are growing, which starts in early April and ends in mid August.
To stir up activity in the area, you might drop a salt block in April, and come hunting season from August to January, they will inhabit the area more to be close to the nutrients.
Are Hunters Allowed to Use Salt Blocks?
Some states like Idaho and New York ban the use of salt blocks in one form or another. Check your local state regulations before you use a salt block to avoid fines that can be as costly as $300. You can use salt blocks in some states, but you should check to see that it is legal first.
Trick to Bring in More Elk
Want to know how to stir up elk activitiy in the area? Dropping a salt block will help, but let’s have a further look at how to do that. First, you head to a feed store to get a granular mix of salt and minerals. Pick your favorite hunting spot and have an area 12 inches deep and 2 feet across. You mix in 10 to 20 pounds of salt with dirt in it. Put half in the hole and pack it tightly. You want to pack the hole as tightly as you can. This doesn’t require salt blocks, and it drives in the elk and deer like mad.
Experiment with What Works
Every elk hunter will have his own method for what works best. You will need to experiment to see what works the best for you. For example, some elk hunters say that salt blocks don’t work that well, while others say it works great. This may depend on your geographic location. For example, if you hunt along the coast, many elk will receive the salt from the air of the ocean, and they won’t need to seek it in the woods.
Difference between Refined and Unrefined Salt
Unrefined salt offers much better health benefits, and the elk will go after it much harder than the refined salt. The elk may still go to a refined salt source, but they do this because they can’t find another source. Refined salt isn’t as healthy for animals or humans because it adds chemicals so that they can be sold in more profitable markets.
They might add bleach to refined so that it looks clean on the shelf and sell better, but all the changes to it ruin some of the health benefits. The body can’t break it down as easily as before. Unfortunately, many of the salt blocks that you can buy at a feedstore will be refined salts. Giving them unrefined salts, you will see elk with a healthier rack, and they will be healthier overall, making the meat taste better.
If you’d like to know about an unrefined salt source that you could use for elk, you might try TROPHY ROCK Redmond All-Natural Mineral Rock. You will see a big difference in the elk you take, and they prefer this salt to the refined salts that you will find elsewhere.
Understanding the Restrictions on Salt Blocks for Elk
In the state of Utah, you can use salt blocks freely. However, many of the eastern states will have some form of restriction on the use of salt blocks for hunting, and you should speak with a local DNR before you set out on a hunt. Wyoming, Colorado and Montana also have some salt and mineral restrictions that you would want to be aware of. Check with your state laws and even check with the ones said to be legal because the laws can change from year to year. You want to see that everything is current.
Besides Elk, What Else Will a Salt Block Attract?
I mentioned whitetail, but it will attract a variety of animals who need their salt intake. Some of the animals drawn to salt blocks include rabbits, birds, moose, woodchucks, foxes, mountain goats and gray squirrels. Certain species of birds will go after salt more than others. For example, the woodpecker, purple finches, blue jays, crows and nuthatches all find themselves drawn to salt.
Beware of how salt blocks can stir up some unwanted activity in some cases like cougars and bears. You can use a salt block to learn more about the local wildlife in your woods to plan for other hunting adventures.
How Long Will a Salt Block Last?
You should see a small salt block last for about two months. Be sure to buy salt intended for animal consumption. Don’t buy salt blocks not blended with minerals or one that they use for de-icing. Several factors will influence how long it lasts, such as weather and how many elk go to the spot. Rain tends to wear them down faster, but most salt blocks can handle the rain easily enough in an average rain.
Larger salt blocks may last for between six to eight months, but snow is another thing that will reduce its length of time in use.
How to Position Your Salt Block for Elk
To begin with positioning your salt block, you will first need to look for elk tracks and elk droppings. Elk droppings look similar to that of whitetail deer or muledeer. You want to place the salt block in an open area surrounded by trees or shrubs because it provides you with a good hiding place without being spotted by elk.
You can put a steel “T” post into the ground to keep the salt block above the snow and rain. The post should be about 3 feet above the ground. However, it doesn’t matter too much if it soaks into the ground, and in fact, many elk hunters consider that the goal.
The elk will be wary when they come upon a salt block because they know how a predator may be stalking near the block.
For that reason, you want to place it properly and position it near the elk trail, rather than on the trail. You want to avoid disturbing the environment too much because the elk will see this as suspicious and act accordingly.
When you go to place the salt block, be as quiet about it as possible. This keeps the elk from becoming skittish and leaving. Thinking of how many salt blocks to use, you will only need one salt block for every 100 acres. Beware of where you put the block as well because of how it can impact your local ecology. For example, it can hurt crops if the saltiness gets into the soil too much.
What to Know Before Buying a Salt Block
You will find the salt lick in three different forms that include:
- Granular mineral lick
- Mineral block
- Liquid salt lick
Granular Mineral Lick
Because of the small grain sizes, the granular mineral lick mixes into the soil easily. You might especially choose this one in regions with high rainfall. In comparison to other mineral forms, the granular mineral lick will last longer. Keep in mind, this one does take more time for it to seep into the soil. Some granular mineral licks may require water mixed into them whereas other ones may not. Mixing in the water, it should be non-chlorinated water and distilled water.
Mineral blocks last longer in comparison to the other salt licks. You will especially see them come in handy in regions that receive a lot of rainfall like Washington State. Some elk hunters even prefer this because of how the heavy rainfall will cause the salts to seep into the soil more quickly. Unlike a pure salt lick, you can flavor a mineral block so that it attracts the elk year-round. You can prevent disease with a mineral block because it gives the elk the necessary nutrients to stay healthy.
Liquid Salt Lick
The opposite of hard and solid mineral blocks, liquid salt licks have become popular because of how they seep into the land the quickest of the three choices. The greatest drawback of them comes from the fact that they don’t last as long. With whatever you choose, practice good stewardship of the land. Being a responsible hunter is part of being a hunter.
Expert Tip: Do not leave behind packaging on the property since this will take away from the beauty of the environment. If everyone throws trash around, it will lead to a less beautiful world. After all, we go into nature to enjoy it. As hunters, we must practice responsible habits for the environment.
Like deer, elk will eat salt blocks. In fact, placing a salt block is one of the excellent ways to stir up activity in your area. At the same time, a salt block will be healthy for them and the development of their antlers. Be aware of your local laws before you put out a salt block because of how it may be illegal in some places due to baiting laws. Speak with your local DNR ahead of time. Even if you read about something being legal online, you will still want to check because of how the laws can change.
If you’d like to go hunting for elk, but you worry about the freezer space, check out the article that I wrote here on, “What Size Freezer Should You Use for Elk?”