Tips and Tricks for Keeping Raccoons Out of Deer Feeders
If you run deer feeding stations for your deer herd then you know how frustrating it is when you find out raccoons have been ransacking your feeders. Deer feed is expensive and a couple of raccoons visiting the feeders every night can deplete them fast. So what can you do to keep raccoons out of deer feeders? Here are a few tips that will help reduce the number of raccoons and critters other than white-tailed deer from using your feed stations.
Identify What You’re Dealing With
The first step to removing unwanted raccoons from using your deer feeders is to identify how raccoons are accessing the feeder. Raccoons on the ground cleaning up the feed after it is dispensed is unavoidable unless you trap. The biggest problem hunters and landowners face with raccoons is them actively feeding out of the feeder or through an opening where they can sit and feed all night. If this is occurring you need to find out where their access is. For example, are they climbing up the legs to access a feed trough style feeder or are they climbing a tree to access the PVC style feeders that attach to trees? Depending on how raccoons are accessing your feeder will determine what steps you need to take to address the problem.
Using trail cameras is a simple way to do this. You can set your camera to video mode so you can capture the raccoons in action. This will give you the information you need to take the next step.
Choose the Right Feeder
Choosing the right style of deer feeder is important when providing your deer herd with supplemental nutrition. Some styles also tend to be more “raccoon proof” than others. For example, tripod style feeders that have thin metal legs are more difficult for raccoons to climb. Other gravity style feeders made out of steel or even PVC pipes can also make it more difficult for raccoons to access your deer feed. Some game feeders are sold and/or designed with cages around the dispensers and have locked lids. These style feeders are arguably better deer feeder designs over trough and wooden gravity feeders that raccoons can easily access. If you’re worried about raccoons getting into your game feeder, then be sure to choose or build a feeder that will help deter raccoons most.
If raccoons are climbing up your feeder’s legs to access the feed then you need to deter them from climbing. One easy way you can do this is by wrapping PVC piping around the legs of your feeders. This will create a surface that is much more difficult for any varmint including raccoons from climbing up your feeder’s legs and into the feeder.
Depending on the type of feeder you have using a varmint guard may be an option for you. These guards are used on automated game feeders that throw the feed out onto the ground. They are essentially a cage that ensures raccoons cannot access the feeder itself, though they can still obviously eat feed that’s thrown onto the ground. Either way, a varmint guard will reduce the amount of your feed that is being consumed by raccoons.
Depending on what time of year it is, it may be legal for you to trap raccoons to help with your problem. There may be added benefits of selling hides with this method, but be sure you have your trapper’s license if your state requires it. Regardless, once you start trapping raccoons it’s important to continue to monitor your deer feeders to get a feel for whether your trapping efforts are making an impact. If you start to see less raccoons in your feeders or at the feeding stations on your trail cameras than you’re on the right track!
Deer feeders can be an important part of deer management and choosing the right style of deer feeder is important for you to maximize your efficiency of delivering supplemental nutrition to your deer herd. Be sure to keep these tips in mind if you find yourself looking for a solution to keeping raccoons out of deer feeders!