QUESTION: I hunt on a 10-acre tract. Agricultural fields border two sides and woods border two sides.
I'm considering placing a feeder on my tract in hopes of keeping the deer more centralized in my little patch of woods. Should I start in the off-season and let it feed all year? Also, what are the best feeder and feed products on the market? -- Rob T.
ANSWER: First and foremost, check to make sure it is legal to provide food year-round. If that's the case, it certainly can't hurt to use a feeder.
For starters, providing the right kind of food - more on that in a bit - during times when natural food is scarce will keep deer nearby, as well as provide added nutrition at a time when they need it most.
Next, if you provide food year-round, deer will become conditioned to the area. They quickly learn where food is most easily obtainable. Furthermore, does will teach their young to feed there. They will continue visiting the site as long as food is available.
As far as what to feed; select what deer want and need the most. This can change at given times of the year. In spring and summer, they're looking for food that is high in protein. Protein helps nourish the buck's growing antlers and aids in a fawn's growth. Consider protein pellets or blocks.
In fall and winter, energy and fat are more important. These can be found in corn, soybeans, pellets or blocks.
If you feed corn through the winter, just be sure you start early in the fall and provide alternate food sources such as blocks that are high in fiber.
There are many good products on the market and I would not presume to pick one particular brand.
Bear in mind that even when supplemental food is available, deer will continue to feed on natural foods. Feeders concentrate deer in the winter and could cause a faster depletion of natural browse - both food and cover - in the area near the feeder.