Fact checked by Steven Lines, lifelong Hunter and Outdoorsman.
There are many tools that you can use when hunting for elk. One of the most effective is an attractant. Instead of chasing elk, you can make sure that they will come to you. But will they want to go to a salt block?
Elk will frequent salt blocks. They will use the minerals contained in a salt block to help them improve their digestion and help them grow healthy bones. Because of this, they have been known to travel long distances to get a salt lick.
Salt blocks can be a great way to increase your chances of bagging an elk. Keep reading to learn more about how you can use to hunt more effectively.
- 1 What is a Salt Lick?
- 2 Why Do Elk Like Salt Blocks?
- 3 Are Hunters Allowed to Use Salt Blocks?
- 4 What Other Animals Will a Salt Block Attract?
- 5 How to Make a Salt Lick
- 6 Positioning Your Salt Block
- 7 How Long Does a Salt Block Last?
- 8 Using a Salt Block to Take Out an Elk
- 9 Finding a Natural Salt Lick
- 10 Other Ways of Attracting Elk
- 11 Final Thoughts
What is a Salt Lick?
A salt lick is a place that has high concentrations of salt and other materials. In this area, the elk will lick the ground to obtain these nutrients. These can occur naturally, though humans might use them in agriculture.
Salt licks can occur naturally, where there is an unnaturally high concentration of salt in the soil. However, they have also historically been artificial. Decades of deposits ensure that these salt licks persist today.
Here’s a quick example of how these salt licks can be formed. First, American Indians were known to prize salt. They quickly discovered that it could be used to attract birds and animals like elk. Later, settlers seized these areas and may have contributed to building the salt lick. The highly concentrated licks would be able to last for centuries.
A salt block will replicate this salt lick. However, you can just put the salt block on a pole, rather than going to the difficulty of infusing the minerals into the soil.
Why Do Elk Like Salt Blocks?
Both elk and deer will be attracted to a salt block. They will use them for the same reason, to add minerals to their diet. There are plenty of minerals that can be gained through a salt block. These nutrients won’t be found in the vegetation that elk usually consume as part of their diet. Some of these minerals include:
They will need to get these minerals to ensure that they have healthy bone growth. It will also help to boost their digestion. This is especially important during the winter months. Because of this, some bulls have been known to fight over control of a salt block.
Salt Blocks in Farming
It should be noted that hunters aren’t the only people who will use salt blocks. They are also widely used by farmers. These are primarily used for cattle, sheep, and goats to supplement the animals’ diet. Often, farmers will dump boulders of salt, which their livestock will use as they need.
Are Hunters Allowed to Use Salt Blocks?
Usually, a hunter won’t be able to bait an elk. On public land, you will get a fine if you harvest any animals like this. On the other hand, in some states, you might be able to bait on private land at certain times during the year.
As a general rule, though, you won’t be able to put a salt block on public land. However, this can be a difficult rule for rangers to enforce. It can be hard to tell when there is a salt block in the area. But, if they can prove you baited animals, you will be looking at a hefty fine. It isn’t worth taking the risk.
Whether you can add a salt block on private property will depend. Some states will allow you to set up a block. But you’ll only be able to use it to observe wildlife. But you can’t use it for hunting.
Usually, a salt block will be classed as baiting. The laws on baiting will change depending on the area that you are living in. It’s important to check before the hunting season. Even if you are allowed to use
What Other Animals Will a Salt Block Attract?
Elk aren’t the only animals that will need to turn to salt blocks to get the right mix of minerals in their diets. Some of the other animals that will come to these blocks will include:
- Mountain goats
Because of this, if you put a trail camera around the block, you’ll be able to catch a lot of exciting activity. This can give you a good insight into the type of wildlife in the area.
How to Make a Salt Lick
There are a few ways to bait elk with salt. First, you might want to consider adding salt blocks to the area. You should be able to get these salt blocks from most livestock or hunting stores. You can put this on top of a hunting pole rather than on the ground. This ensures that the salt won’t leech into the environment.
Another option is to put powdered salt on the ground. This is easy to apply. You don’t need to mix it in. All you need to do is sprinkle the mixture around the area. There will often be a few flavors of hunting salts. It’s a good idea to try a few varieties. This will allow you to see which one works best for the elk in your area.
If it’s legal in your area, you might want to consider making a salt lick for elk hunting. This is pretty simple. You’ll just need to follow these steps:
- Dig your hole. You won’t need to dig a huge hole. It will just need to be 12 inches deep. It will need to be two to three feet wide.
- Add the salt. You’ll need to add between 10 pounds of salt to the hole.
- Fill half the hole. Don’t pack the dirt too tightly at this stage.
- Add water. Next, you’ll need to add two gallons of water. This will wash the salt through the surrounding soil.
- Fill in the hole. To finish, you’ll need to fill the hole. Now you want to pack the earth as tightly as you can.
Once you have finished putting in the lick or block, you’ll need to take all your rubbish with you. Leaving plastic packaging behind is bad for the environment. It’s also a sure-fire way to alert the elk to human activity in the area.
It’s also a good idea to add some trail cameras to the area. This will allow you to track the movement of the elk. This can be valuable information when planning your hunt. For example, you’ll be able to learn when they are most active.
Positioning Your Salt Block
If you plan to use a salt block, you’ll need to make sure that you are putting it in the correct position. This will boost the amount of activity that you are seeing. These are some tips that you can use:
- Look for elk trails. The first step is trying to find where the population is most active. This ensures that it will be easy for them to locate the block. There are a few ways that you can do this. If it is the rut, you can look for signs of rubbing on the trees. You can also try looking for tracks or scat.
- Put it near the trail, not on it. Once you have a better idea of where the elk population is, you can add the salt block to the environment. As you are doing this, you want to try to avoid disturbing the environment too much. Because of this, you want to make sure that the block is on the side of the trail rather than appearing in the middle of the trail.
- Remove signs of human activity. As you check out where to put the block, you must be trying to be as stealthy as possible. If you are making a lot of noise, it can alert the elk to the presence of a human. This might make them skittish enough to leave the area.
- Spread it out. It’s a good idea to spread the salt blocks out. You can use them sparingly. You’ll only need to have one salt lick per 100 acres.
- Think about the environment. Sometimes, the high concentration of salt in the soil can cause a few issues. Certain crops might not be able to withstand this. As a result, you should ensure that you aren’t putting the salt block anywhere that could impact the local ecology.
How Long Does a Salt Block Last?
Once you have positioned the salt block, it’s important to consider how long it will last. There are a few elements that can impact this. For example, the amount of rain received and the amount of salt you used. Furthermore, the more animals that are using the block, the quicker it will deplete.
In most cases, though, it will last for around eight months. If you received a lot of rain or snow, it might only last for six months. Your salt lick will melt in the rain, though it won’t dissolve too much in a regular shower. Because of this, you might need to create a new salt block at the start of each hunting season.
Using a Salt Block to Take Out an Elk
Once you have your salt block, you’ll be able to use it to start taking out elk. There are a few things to do to use a salt block to your advantage. First, it’s important to stay away from the area after planting the block. Give them some time to get used to this new aspect of their environment. Too much human activity will make the elk wary about going near it.
Plan your hunt correctly. If you have planted trail cameras in the area, you’ll have gathered much information about the elk. You’ll know when they are most active and when they come to your salt block. This will tell you the best time to start your hunt.
It’s also important to remember that the salt block isn’t the only tool you have at your disposal. You can also use bugle calls to track or attract the elk. As long as you know, there are elk in the area. You should be able to hunt them down and bag one. Here are some other tips to kill big prey without using a salt block.
Finding a Natural Salt Lick
Sometimes, you don’t need to go to all the effort of creating a salt lick. You might be able to use one that already exists in the area. Here are some tips you can use to find a natural salt lick:
- Look for trails. Historically, the sites of salt licks have been turned into roads. This is because the animals traveling to the trail had already created a path. You might want to use this as a hunting trail, allowing you to track the movements of animals.
- Look at the map. You can use a map to help you narrow down where you should be looking. In this case, you’ll need to be looking for the bottom of a shallow valley. This is a place where water will be accumulating during times of flooding.
- Examine the soil. A natural salt lick will often consist of thick clay soil. This will often flood a little when it rains. Then, the water will drain into the soil, leaving only the clay behind.
Other Ways of Attracting Elk
A salt block isn’t the only way to get the attraction of an elk. There are several other methods to attract an elk to your land. These include:
- Growing foraging plants. This includes things like the aspen, maple, and fireweed. You can also use grasses like bluegrass and wheatgrass. Take inspiration from the plants that grow in your local area. These zones are prevalent after a storm.
- Hunting near water sources. Look for natural features, like lakes or rivers. Bull elk use wallows to spread their urine and cool off on warmer days. Elk will need to get a drink of water, just like everyone else. Again, they will often visit them more frequently before and after rough weather.
- Using decoy elk. This looks like a cow. When combined with an accurate call, this can sometimes fool the elk into thinking it is a real cow. This will draw them out of the cover and can give you a good shot. It’s best to do this during the rut.
- Remove human influences. If elk are seeing a lot of human activity, they will grow warier of the area. Sometimes, this can cause them to avoid the area altogether. Thankfully, this usually doesn’t last very long. Often, they will only stay away for a few weeks.
- Bugling. Finally, you can mimic the calls of elk. If you do this right, they will come right to you.
It’s usually a good idea to use a mix of these methods. This will give you the best chance of seeing some elk activity. If this still isn’t working, you might need to use your tracking skills, going to the elk.
Elk will love salt blocks, as they provide them with essential minerals. Because of this, they have been known to travel long distances to get to them. Hunters might be able to use this to their advantage, attracting elk onto their property. But, before you start baiting, you should double-check the state law to make sure that it will be legal.
Steven Lines is a hunter and outdoorsman from Safford, Arizona, USA. Since a child, he has been hunting and fishing and has over 20 years of experience in the outdoors. Steven works as a hunting guide in Arizona during his spare time and runs a Youtube channel dedicated to sharing his outdoor adventures with others.