Best Deer Feeding Tips
With what seems like millions of deer feed and associated products on the market how is a deer enthusiast to know what works and what doesn’t? From feeds to feeders, vital information to know includes how much feed, when to feed, types of feed, feeder locations, and the know-how on dealing with non-target species (a.k.a. raccoons, squirrels, feral hogs, etc.). Then there is the issue of setting up trail cameras on feeders, near feeders, or along travel paths and the possibilities of hunting over these locations. Consider a few of these deer feeding tips to ensure success with feeders on your property!
Types of Feed
When it comes to feeding deer, there are two types of feed – attractants and supplements.
- Attractants are simply that an attractant, they tend to provide minimal nutritional benefits but are very desirable to deer. Of those, the most common is corn – which is typically very affordable, readily available at a number of farm/ranch stores and easy to use in just about any type of feeder.
- Supplemental feeds, on the other hand, are designed commonly in a pellet form, to provide a high-quality nutritional food source to deer to help them maintain their best body condition possible.
When considering either feed source the goal is generally to “hold” deer onto a property. Therefore, in a perfect world access to either feed source should be available 24/7, 365 days a year. This is especially true with the use of supplemental feed, as a healthy deer that is able to meet all of his/her nutritional needs daily will have the opportunity for optimum antler growth in the case of bucks and for does, higher pregnancy rates and better fawn recruitment.
Deer Feeder Placement Tips
When placingfilled with attractants versus supplemental feed, consider that the locations should not be the same. Because the goal of a supplement is to supply an optimum feed product to your bucks, does and fawns they should have no hesitation or fear of visiting a protein feeder site at any time, once again 24/7, 365 days a year. To create this scenario throughout your property, ensure protein feeders are placed well away from all shooting sites/blinds/tree stands, etc. and have them evenly distributed across the management area or property so that all deer have can have access to the feed. Ideally, the feeders are also located back in the dense habitat, away from common traffic view, yet ensure there is an easy approach route for filling as needed.
The almost opposite could be said for game feeders with attractants since these are generally meant to allow for easy viewing of deer by hunters, friends, and guests. These areas are strategic for entering while hunting or checking trail cameras, and involve proper entry and exit routes with wind and bedding areas considered.
Deer Feeder Density
How many feeders should you as a hunter have on your property? In determining the number of protein feeders to utilize, a good rule of thumb is a supplemental feeder per 200-acres to minimize the possibility of “deer interaction” stress at feeder sites. Deer dominance at feeder locations is well documented in research.
Now, more protein feeders does not necessarily mean the property will feed more protein pellets but what it does provide for is the opportunity for all deer to utilize the feeders without social stress/interactions at the feeder location. A feeder density of 1 per 200-acres can be used in the “core” management area and then if desired transitioned to a density of 1 feeder per 400-acres as the distance increases away from the core management area. In consideration of attractant feeders, these can be simply placed where hunters are most comfortable viewing deer and/or at specific hunting locations.
Dealing with Non-Target Species
Now to the nitty-gritty, protecting all that valuable feed from non-target species such as herds of raccoons, squirrels, and the plague of feral hogs that are rapidly spreading across the country.
Starting with hogs, encircling all feeders should be 60′ of hog panels. This can be accomplished by acquiring 12, 16′ long hog panels and securing them in place with 4′ tall t-post. Obviously taller t-posts can be purchased but this shorter height allows the posts to be sufficiently secured in the ground while minimizing the opportunity for the posts to protrude above the top of the panels. Setting the t-posts flush with the top of panels minimizes the risk of a deer potentially snagging itself on the post, especially fawns who as well need especially need access to the feed. Ultimately this design is especially successful at deterring most hogs from hopping into the pen or digging under it. As of recently, feeder designers have finally created cages around the distribution point of feeders. The same cages are particularly good at minimizing the access pesky animals like raccoons have to the feed itself. As all hunters know, a single crafty raccoon can dump pounds of corn and/or protein pellets from a feeder overnight, which does the deer herd no good.
Because hunters understand some feed will always be lost, the larger the feeder the better. In addition, another good reason for large feeders, especially protein feeders are simply once again to minimize the human disturbance, with less feeder filling frequency, to the area where the feeder is located. With these larger feeders, it is also beneficial to have feeders with skids so the feeder can be easily moved across the ground or on and off of trailers.
As expected, purchasing feed in bulk to fill these larger feeders can save quite a bit of money over time. Finally, a long-lasting, dependable deer feeder mechanism to distribute the feed will ensure confidence that the feeder works 24/7. Attaching accessories likeand creates longer lasting battery life and easier use overtime.
Once feeders are in their ideal locations it is time to setup trail cameras to monitor there use throughout the year. Cameras can be secured to the feeders themselves, along entrance and exit trails or simply facing the direction of the feeder from a distance. To have the best opportunity for quality photos face the camera either north or south to avoid any glare from the sun. Take a minute and try to find a background that is somewhat solid so that the deer themselves don’t appear to blend into the background. Finally, find a location 20’- 40’ away from the area believed where most photos will occur, to place the camera.
One important takeaway from these deer feeder tips is again the importance of feeding deer 24/7 365 days a year. However, certain times of year require different nutrient requirements especially regarding protein. One such time is spring and summer. Check out the blog below for more details regarding summer deer feeding and nutritional requirements for bucks and does during the summer.