Common Feeding Mistakes
Many hunters and landowners regularly plant food plots or provide supplemental feed to their deer only in the fall season - this is one of the most common mistakes hunters make. If you want to build a healthier deer herd with larger bodies and antlers, you should provide high-quality feeds when deer need them most—late winter, early spring and summer. Maximizing protein levels during these periods will help insure optimum body growth and antler development.
Throughout much of the whitetail’s range, one of the most important times of the year to supplemental feed deer is immediately after the rut until spring green-up, a practice that allows deer to over-winter in good condition and not have to play “catch-up” before the onset of antler growth in spring. “But, many hunters quit feeding their deer at the end of deer season, when in fact, this is the time that the deer often need to feed the most,” Dan Moultrie, the founder and creator of Moultrie Feeders, explains. “Stress levels in deer are extremely high as they come into the spring, which means they can benefit greatly from supplemental feeding. You also can increase the survival rate of the fawns and bucks for the next year by continuing to supplementally feed after deer season ends.”
Supplementing your deer herd’s diet during the summer months when forage quantity is high, but forage quality is low also provides additional benefits, particularly in areas where summer food plots are unreliable due to frequent droughts, or poor soils that can’t be planted due to a lack of available planting areas or landowner restrictions. During the summer, the quantity and the quality of nutrition consumed by does directly influence the health and the quality of the fawns they will produce. Research has shown that buck fawns provided with a high-quality diet develop quicker and have a greater likelihood of growing larger antlers as yearlings. “I believe that nutrition plays a greater role in antler development than any other factor,” said Dr. Keith Causey, a deer researcher at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. “Body and antler development depend on the amount and quality of food ingested. These two factors are the easiest for sportsmen to control.”
Another advantage to using feeders in late winter and early spring is that deer season usually has ended. Deer are looking for food, and the feeder helps to bring many of the region’s deer to the spot where this feeder is located. By using Moultrie’s Game Spy Digital Cameras in conjunction with a feeder, you can begin to inventory most of your herd. When the hunters are out of the woods, and no rifles are cracking, the bucks that have survived gun and deer season will come to the feeder. With the camera near the feeder, you can determine what bucks to hunt next season, learn the time and the date of the sightings, get a good idea of your buck-to-doe ratio and find out how many deer come to the feeder each day. This information also will help you better determine how often to restock your feeder. Just keeping food in front of the deer isn’t the only answer to growing bigger and better bucks or having a healthy deer herd.
To learn more about Moultrie's line of feeders, click here.