Dennis Forsyth writes:
Humans are not the only creatures who feel a need to supplement their diets. Most wild animals take naturally occurring opportunities to add necessary supplements to their diets also. Often these opportunities come in the form of what naturalists and hunters know as ‘licks’. A lick is any place where animals can access necessary minerals to keep themselves healthy. Often a lick occurs in an area where a natural spring or seep brings the good stuff to the surface.
By ingesting the mud or clay found at a good lick an animal, such as a deer, takes in good stuff like sodium, phosphorous, calcium, iron, selenium, cobalt, and other essential elements. These elements aid in developing muscle tissue, bone mass, and, for the deer species, antler growth. It is also suspected that some of these elements may offer immunity from protective toxins contained in some plants commonly browsed by herbivores.
I know of several lick locations on Denman Island used mainly by deer and a few days ago came upon this one. It is not very large and is basically a seep lying just below a steep slope. The photos show that this one is completely covered in deer tracks and is being heavily used. Close examination revealed that it is also covered in teeth marks caused by the deer nibbling and ingesting the mud.
Local hunters will excuse my unwillingness to clearly locate any of these licks for them.