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How can I attract deer closer to my stands?

Back To "Ask The Biologist?"QUESTION: I live in Pennsylvania, near the Delaware line. We have some big bucks here in our area but I have difficulty attracting them. Can you make a suggestion to any feed that will attract big bucks at or near my stand during hunting time of the day, and not at midnight? We are permitted to hunt over or near bait here in my area of the state of PA. - Nick M.

ANSWER:  There are several things I might suggest.

If you merely spread food on the ground, or in a trough feeder, it’s available 24/7. Already cautious deer will become even more wary around an artificial concentration of food (and deer), and will use it more often when they feel most comfortable - under cover of darkness. This is particularly true of older bucks.

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I would recommend using a spin feeder set on a timer to broadcast feed at dawn and dusk. This does two things.

First, it provides food during legal hunting hours. Second, and more importantly, it distributes a limited amount of food - available on a first-come, first-served basis - creating greater incentive for deer to visit your bait site in daylight hours.

That alone won’t solve the big buck issue. Even with limited food, older bucks are still wary of feeders.

Part of the answer is alluded to in the question - hunting “near” the bait. You might consider setting up some distance away from your feeder, downwind and in thicker cover. Older bucks may not come to the feeder, but they will cruise downwind to scent-check the area. You’ll see fewer deer, and have fewer shot opportunities, but your odds of seeing a big buck go up. This is particularly true during the rut, when bucks will be attracted to do concentrations.

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