Some food for thought.
If someone asks me how to grow big bucks, the answer I chime in with is very different than the "industry mentality." It all simple math. I'm spare everyone the calculations today but one will provide more added nutrition from planting more nutritious species and practicing sound management to increase the nutrition of those species than by means of supplementation.
In nutrition the base is soil but as you see in my pyramid I use bedding and water. Without quality water nearby and a bedding source you will not hold deer on your property. Deer need food, water and bedding. If you have the food, without bedding and water, your property will hold less deer and perhaps be more of a transition property.
In any diet, there is a base, The foundation that needs to be strong. In nutrition that is the soil. If you have a depleted soil, you will have depleted nutrients in anything grown on that soil. That is why one will see soil sample results mimicing forage scissors cut sample results. The essential nutrients come from the soil not the air. It's not magic, it's science.
The next steps include more desireable species. For example, clovers and alfalfa's typically have 4-5 times more calcium than oats, rye and cereal grains. They also are 50-75% higher in crude protein depending on date of maturation. One other area people overlook is species that grow good but deer refuse to eat them. If a deer won't consume it, what good is it?
Lastly, you see the top of the pyramid being supplementation. That could be from mineral, pellets, grains, proteins and fiber sources. This is where I scratch my head. These items compliment a diet, yet this is where we see many wild claims. This is where people assume feeding small amounts of minerals, starting a few weeks before hunting season will create magic. This is where a lot of money is made in the industry from selling products that may or may not be nutritionally sound.
The best money spent on your management plan should be on water and bedding. This is where multiple sources of beddings should be implemented versus a 1 size fits all approach. The next money should be spent on soil samples and working with someone who will help you become a soil balancer versus a soil miner. Next, plant more nutritious forage sources. Lastly, supplementation should be the final piece to the puzzle. In the case of free choice minerals. They are to be used to monitor your forage quality. If a deer is not touching minerals and then the begin to pound them, that means you better do some crop scouting. That is what I want people to understand. Deer Minerals are FREE CHOICE. They are like insurance versus a solution.