Once you know how to attract deer to your feeder, you can begin patterning them in time for hunting season.
You’ve made the decision to start providing your deer herd with supplemental nutrition. That’s an important step in maintaining a healthy population of whitetails as spring is a crucial time for deer development. Healthy does birth fawns with a better chance of survival. Of course, bucks need ample nutrition for optimal antler growth.
It’s important to know how to attract deer to your feeder. In this case, if you build it, they won’t necessarily come. You’ll need to strategically place your feeder in an area the deer already frequent. Also, they aren’t naturally accustomed to eating pellets from a feeder. You’ll have to “train” them to do so. Once they’re comfortable with a feeding location, they’ll routinely visit the area year round.
Choose a Feeder
It’s best to have an idea of the size of your property’s deer herd before purchasing a feeder. It’s recommended to have one feeder for every 25 deer. An adult deer normally consumes an average of one-and-a-half pounds of food per day. A 4,000-acre property with abundant deer could necessitate several feeders with a high holding capacity, such as the Feedbank 600, which can accommodate up to 600 pounds of feed. A smaller tract would be better suited with a Feedbank 40.
Select a Site
Choose an area of your property the deer travel through regularly. This includes corridors near transition areas, as well as clearings in the woods near bedding cover or isolated food plots. You want to ensure the deer don’t have to stray much from their established routine to find the feeder.
The location you choose should offer the deer easy access to water. If there are no creeks, pond or rivers nearby, or if they’re prone to drying up in the summer, a Wild Water system is a great alternative. Also, if the location offers easy escape routes to nearby cover and a clear line of vision, deer will feel much more comfortable.
Introduce the Feeder
Once you’ve picked out a prime location, set up the feeder. Even if you’ll be using pellets, the form which most supplemental nutrition comes in, start out with corn. Scatter a bag around the feeder. Or use a spin feeder by first pouring in a couple bags of corn with that’ll initially dispense followed by the pellets.
When the deer locate the piles, gradually increase the distance toward the feeder until you have corn under it. Then, you can start to fill the feeder as well. When the deer start to eat from the feeder, stop tossing corn on the ground.
After the deer have gotten comfortable eating corn from the feeder, begin slowly adding pellets to the mixture. Gradually reduce the amount of corn until you are providing only pellets. If traffic slows, mix some corn back in. This process typically takes at least two or three weeks. You have to be diligent during this transition period to see how the herd is reacting to the new food source. For those of you who cannot be in the woods everyday, a trail camera can give you insight while you’re away.
Pattern the Deer
Begin patterning bucks and planning stand locations. Rather than hunting over the feeder, pick a spot near the trails leading to it. You’ll want the food source to be seen as a safe area by the deer, so avoid disturbing it.
More often that we’d like, the perfect location for a feeder may not have ideal places for a stand or blind. In this case, creating a funnel can draw the deer where you want them. Place debris such as a log along the forest floor near trails so that it restricts the deer’s movement. They’ll avoid the obstacles and walk closer to your stand on the way to the feeder.
The benefits of having feeders on your property are two-fold. They will help keep your deer herd healthy this spring, including helping bucks grow their antlers. It’ll also mean the deer herd has a reliable food source throughout the hunting season to rely on.