As the winter months close in, it will become harder for deer to find food. If you provide them a sustainable food source on your property, they will make sure to set up shop near-by. Feeding the deer during the winter will not only help their nutrition, it will create a dependence on your property, so they’ll be more likely to keep returning even when they no longer need help finding food.
Deer need to continue eating the same food they normally eat during the rest of the year during the winter. When the greenery of summer is gone, they still rely on plants but in a different way. One of the main food categories in the winter for deer is known as “woody browse.” This consists of the leftovers from trees and plants once they’ve shed their leaves. Types of foods in this category are buds and twigs of woody plants. To make it easier for the deer to find woody browse, collect debris from near-by trees or cut some branches down yourself and sprinkle them around your feeder, so they’re getting the food they need at a location they’re used to. They won’t have to travel all over the woods to find twigs if you conveniently provide a steady supply on your property.
That being said, winter is not the time to introduce supplemental feed if you’ve never used it before. You don’t want to start feeding the deer a new food at this time. Their stomachs are sensitive, and they need time to adjust to new foods. During the winter months, they don’t have the time to allow for that adjustment. They need to continue eating the same food they’ve been eating all year, so keep doing the same thing you’ve been doing until now. If you have been providing supplemental feed as a food source for the deer all year, continue to do that. They’ll be relying on the consistent food source that they know exists on your property.
If you’ve been putting out feed, but want a new feeder for your growing herd, our Feedbank Gravity Deer Feeders can hold any type of feed. We have feeders that hold up to 600 pounds, so even large herds will have plenty to eat. The feeders are easily movable and can transfer to different places around your property.
If you don’t see deer at your feeder, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re not there. With the minimal amount of sunlight during the winter months, deer may be visiting your feeder just before dusk. When dusk hits between 4:30 pm and 5:30 pm during the winter, that may happen while you’re still coming home from work. Don’t panic if you don’t physically see the deer out your window. Check your trail cameras and see when the deer are visiting.
Having a consistent food source in the winter not only helps mature deer regain the weight they lost during the rut, it also helps fawns born in the spring and summer months. The new fawns are still in a formative state, relying on others for food. If they have access to protein-rich foods during the winter, they’ll continue to grow into healthy, strong deer the rest of the year.
Putting out woody browse or continuing to provide feed will give the deer a chance at nutrition all year long. When natural food sources become scarce, deer will gravitate toward any nutrition they can find. Keeping up with your feeders during the winter will cultivate the deer’s dependence on your property. If you stop feeding them now, they will not only become weaker, they may stop visiting your property all together. Make sure you have strong, healthy deer on your property next hunting season by feeding them this winter.
How do you feed your herd in the winter? Let us know!