After a few years of selling deer mineral products, Jeremy Steinkamp decided to start his own business doing the same thing.
He wasn’t sure how it would go since he only sold three skids during that time and it had taken a year to sell 100 20-pound buckets of deer mineral through a man in Ohio.
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Since starting Whitetail Essentials Deer Products in December 2017, however, he has sold 13,500 pounds of deer mineral.
In June, he expanded to offer feed. Then just recently, he added food plot seed to his inventory.
“I had no clue,” the Brownstown man said of predicting the quick success of his business.
“I love deer nutrition and helping deer any way I can and helping people achieve what they want,” he said. “I know what they want. Most hunters want a big rack. That’s what those people want.”
Steinkamp’s attraction to deer mineral products started about seven years ago. He took a picture of his oldest son, Jayden, with a deer he killed and entered it in a contest. For getting the most “likes” on the photo on Facebook, he won a bucket of deer mineral.
“I got ahold of the company that he won the stuff from, and I sold it for a couple of years and did real good,” Steinkamp said.
When that company folded, the man gave Steinkamp the deer mineral recipe.
“I met with a nutritionist, and we upped everything a lot, all of the ingredients, made it a lot better, and it has really taken off,” he said.
He had one of his friends use the product for about a year before he started selling it in December 2017.
Since then, he has had several customers from Indiana, and one man drove from Michigan to buy 500 pounds.
He credits part of his success to setting up a booth at large deer and turkey shows. His next one is Saturday and Sunday in Lawrenceburg.
“It costs money to get in a four-day show, but I sell a lot of product,” he said. “You’re getting your name out.”
Steinkamp’s products can be found in the area at Ace Hardware in Scottsburg and High Performance Archery in Austin, and he has a dealer sell it in Grandview. He also can deliver it within a three-hour radius of Brownstown.
He is working on getting his products in Tractor Supply Co. and Rural King stores and having a dealer sell it in Bedford.
“It’s hard to get in there because these other companies, they’ve got the backing and they’ve got the funding,” Steinkamp said.
He said his products, however, are better because they don’t contain artificial fillers and flavorings like some of the brands found in big box stores.
“If you buy from me, I’m doing this myself, and I know what I have got in this,” he said.
Steinkamp’s deer mineral is manufactured by Azalia Elevator Inc. in Bartholomew County. The ingredients include monocalcium phosphate, dicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, salt and four types of vitamin supplements.
“They start out with a mineral, and they start adding to it,” he said. “They add calcium, salt. Limestone is where calcium comes from. Your monocalcium and dicalcium are the biggest ingredients in the mineral. That’s where they are getting the maximum nutrients from for antler growth.”
He said calcium is great for a deer’s bone and antler development, and the phosphorus also helps with bone growth.
He increased the percentage of phosphorus in his product but kept the salt low. He said some companies will use 90 percent salt because it’s a cheap filler.
“Deer do not need a lot of salt,” he said. “They say a deer needs right around 33 percent salt in the growing season.”
There also is a cherry blast flavor added.
“That cherry blast is a liquid,” he said. “I think they use a pound and a half of a cherry flavoring. They dump it in with the 500-pound bag. There’s so much dry in there, it dries itself with so much liquid in it.”
Steinkamp takes those large bags and sifts the product into smaller bags to sell.
He suggests people dump the product on a tree stump or log any time between February and September. That way, it’s out for deer to eat before hunting season starts Oct. 1.
“You cannot hunt over it. That’s considered baiting,” Steinkamp said. “You have to have it gone two weeks before deer season. I give it a good month to get it out of the ground as much as possible.”
Deer will pick up the scent of the mineral and eat it.
“They chew on any woody product. It’s fiber for them. That is fiber for their system,” Steinkamp said. “You dump this on a stump, that old rotten stump soaks it up. The wood will soak up the mineral when it rains. They are getting the mineral and their fiber from that stump eating that wood.”
Trophy hunters like the product because the mineral helps develop big racks on the bucks. Steinkamp said he can tell if a deer has eaten his product.
“You can just tell how healthy the deer looks,” he said. “Your antler growth, a healthy deer is going to grow a bigger rack.”
Steinkamp said he is considering adding garlic to the mineral because that fights off ticks.
He said the mineral also is great for a lactating doe and for a fawn when the doe is carrying it.
“It helps it to get a healthy start,” he said.
Toward the end of August when bucks lose the velvet on their antlers, Steinkamp said they will stop eating the mineral because a chemical in their body lets them know their antlers are done growing.
In the second or third week of October, a buck will start looking for a doe with which to mate. That’s when they switch to eating the feed.
Steinkamp’s feed is a corn mixture with cracked corn, soybean pellets, protein pellets, sunflower seeds and liquid molasses. He said a lot of people put it out after deer season.
“They have calculated a deer going up to 7 miles away from their home area to search for a hot doe,” Steinkamp said. “They run themselves to death, and this right here is a good product to build them back up for those winter months. This will get fat on him so he can survive the winter months, and the doe will eat it, too.”
For people who don’t like using the deer mineral or feed, Steinkamp said they will plant food plot seed.
His Lucky Clover has two types of clover and chicory, which are protein builders, and Supreme Green is a turnip blend.
Steinkamp also plants food plots for people on the side.
“A lot of hunters love this food plot seed,” he said. “I would say 99 percent of your hunters plant food plots. It’s an attractant. It’s a health builder. It’s a bone builder. It does it all, and it’s legal to hunt from.”
Steinkamp said he’s glad to offer quality products to customers. He has donated some of the products to support good causes, and he also helps other local businesses by having hats and hooded sweatshirts made by Pauley’s Prints and labels made by Celery Signs.
“I get the sense of satisfaction that I know people are getting the deer that they want, that they are going to be able to grow the deer that they want,” he said. “It makes me feel good to know that they are actually loving the products and they like to use them and they are continuing to use them, and that just makes me go farther.”
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Whitetail Essentials Deer Products is operated by Jeremy Steinkamp of Brownstown.
He offers deer mineral, feed and food plot seed.
For information, call 812-530-7284, visit whitetailessentialsdeerproducts.com or facebook.com/whitetailessentialsdeerproducts or find the business on Instagram.