Question: “We want to improve the deer hunting at our lease. We are thinking about adding supplemental protein to our deer lease. We are looking at the tube feeders to dispense pellets, but also like the idea of an open trough type feeders. What is the best protein feeder for deer out there? Do you think a tube style or trough style will work best? Also, what are the pros and cons of each feeder type? Will the addition of feed help deer hunting or just up our feed cost?”
Deer Hunting: When it comes to deer feeders there are a million of them on the market. But you are aware of this and that is likely why you have asked your question. To answer your last question first, the answer would be, yes! Supplemental feed can make a big difference from a deer management standpoint and that can lead to healthier, bigger deer, both bucks and does. Food is typically the limiting factor when it comes to body and antler growth in whitetail deer.
Protein Feeders for Supplemental Feeding
There are numerous ways to go when it comes to feeding protein. The trick is to get it to the deer without wasting it, as in allowing the coons or hogs get way more than their fare share, which in my opinion is zero. Tube type protein feeders restrict deer from eating quickly and they also keep the smaller deer, fawns, from reaching feed until they are older. These are not the worst things in the world. The pros outweigh the cons.
Trough type protein feeders typically keep way too much pelleted feed exposed to the weather, which cost you money and the deer food. The low level and exposed feed also means coons and feral hogs will live in close proximity and eat your feed budget out of house and home. The cons outweigh pros on this feeder type.
There is, however, another protein feeder that is probably the way to go. We prefer a supplemental feeder that has a flat plate that is adjustable both up and down. This feeder makes it so it can be as easy or difficult for pellets to be dispensed as you would like. When set properly, the deer can feed quickly, limiting their individual time at the feeder. If you going to invest in high protein pelleted feed then you want to allow the deer to be able to feed freely and quickly. This adjustable tray systems does that and provides maximum deer access.
Supplemental Feeding for Improved Deer Hunting
Supplemental feeding can improve whitetail deer hunting on any property, but it alone will not solve all of your deer management issues. Adding feed is the easiest thing a hunter can do a deer lease. In some cases, it may be the ONLY thing a hunter can control. Deer hunting small acreage has limitations with regard to harvest management. Larger properties provide more protection for middle-aged bucks, but event that can not ensure deer do not die from natural causes.
Pay close attention to the total number of deer on your deer lease. If you think you are overpopulated then supplemental feeding will have only a minor affect on the deer, but a major impact on your wallet. Protein feeding gets the most bang for its buck when deer are at the proper density for the habitat. This will do the most for your deer and your wallet. Pelleted protein is great, but it can not compete with high quality native plants. Get your deer numbers right, provide supplemental feed and manage deer harvest on your lease and the deer hunting will improve.
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