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Deer Feed Question

I had a question for some of you who have had experience with supplemental feeding in the past. I'm going to begin a supplemental feeding program on the land I hunt here in North Central Louisiana but wanted to ask around to see what might be the best feed to use.

Right now I've narrowed it down to three: Purina's AntlerMax Deer Chow, Record Rack Golden Deer Nuggets or Delta Whitetails Hi-Pro pellets. My plan is to start them in a 50-50 mix with corn just to get the deer used to them before switching over to 100% feed.

Just wanted to see if anyone had used any of the products and what they thought about them. Appreciate the help in advance!
I've used all these for years. Places stock first one, then the other, so i just try to get the cheapest. If money is not important, the 40lb. bags of nuggets are much easier to deal with but are most expensive. As for deer, they like it all, however they dont want protein at all times of the year, sometimes they prefer ricebran, usually in fall and winter for its high fat content. There's no need to mix it with corn, but its best to put out small amounts on the ground first. Dont be surprised if big bucks won't eat out of gravity feeders, but feeding your does and knotheads is the most important thing anyway. The ones without rainguard is cheaper, and arent needed in dry weather, but is necessary in wet times of the year. Mixing it with corn only encourages coons, hogs, and bears. RIGHT NOW is the time they need it most. The bucks are in bad shape after the rut and need protein bad.
Appreciate the insight hunt r. For me, money is definitely at the forefront of my mind. Don't have tons of it at my disposal but luckily, I don't need a ton of extra feed for my piece of property. I love using the Delta Whitetail protein blocks for sure, and the deer at my place ate them up last summer. I'm tempted to use the Hi-Pro protein pellets from Delta Whitetail as well. If you don't mind my asking, what does a 50lb bag of them typically run?

I had heard the Record Rack nuggets weren't really favored by coons, wondering if the same could be said about the Hi-Pro pellets. That's good advice on not mixing with corn, I just figured to get them started I'd have to. In your experience, do the deer pick up on eating the pellets pretty quickly--if you start them slow with the small ground piles as you mentioned.

You hit it on the head with my wanting to use gravity feeders--just for simplicity of being able to fill them once every two weeks and not have to continually go in and out of the woods. I'm also going to set up three mineral sites on the property using Trophy Rocks. I'm just trying to do all I can to get my deer a leg up for next hunting season. There are some very nice bucks on the property and they've never really had an established mineral site or supplemental feeding to help them along to this point.

Any other advice you have for me? PS, I do use ricebran a good bit in the fall and winter, whenever I can stop by to get a bag and like you said, they destroy it pretty quickly.
I use the blocks year round and then use pellets from now till thet quit eating it so much. When u firstput it out, if they're used to blocks, they will eat it up. After about couple weeks they will get 'caught up' and will slack off some. The thing about protein pellets is they will only eat about a handfull at a time, so its overall much cheaper and better than corn. Bears will eat out of the feeders and seldom bother them, but if u put corn in them one time they will tear them apart from now on. Right now feed is about $12 a bag, antlermax and recordrack close to $15. I mostly feed arrow brand dairy cow pelletes, they work just as good and are easier to get and cheaper. I do use gravity feeders, but big bucks like it directly on the ground, but like i said, i'm more concerned about my young bucks getting a good start. U will see results next year, and every year after they will get bigger and bigger and ur fawn survival will double.
Good Advice
Thanks again hunt r. I'm very lucky in the neck of woods I hunt: no bears or hogs. Tons of coons though, so that can be an aggrivation. I'm like you, I have some big boys on the place, but also have quite a few up and comers that I really want to give a boost to, so that's why I decided to begin this. I like the sound of it being cheaper than corn and I had heard they only eat it in small portions--so that's good.

I plan on buying the Hi-Pro pellets from the Jimmy Sanders store here in Monroe. It's close and I know they carry the Delta Whitetail products. Plus, the Hi-Pro pellets I believe come in a 50lb bag as opposed to the Record Rack which is only 40lbs, a little bit more bang for my buck. Thanks again on the no corn costly as it is, if I can find a way to keep from buying it, I'm all for it. I'll fill my 2 gravity feeders and also place a small/medium size pile on the ground for those more picky bucks.

Thanks again for the advice, I'm always open to hearing more of it if you're willing to share.
Food Plots
If you are debating whether to use food plots or deer feed for spring time feeding, food plots are more cost effective than deer feed.

First, a deer will eat 5% of its body weight per day. So, a 200 pound deer will eat approximately 10 pounds of forage per day. Assuming your land has adequate natural forage, a deer will eat approximately 2 pounds of supplemental deer feed per day. In an entire year, you will have fed the deer 730 pounds of feed! To feed a herd of 10 deer, you would need approximately 7,300 pounds or 146 50-lb bags of feed. If you budget $20 per bag, you will have spent $2,920 in a single year! And that is only for 10 deer.

The second option is planting a mixture of annual and perennial food plots. Food plots can be more time consuming, but they are far more cost effective. Planting perennials such as clover or alfalfa can be a costly up front cost, but they can produce for up to five years if mowed and fertilized correctly. Annuals such as corn, soybeans and peas are good options that are palatable and provide a good source of protein. On my property, I plant a mixture of annuals to go with my perennials. I like to rotate the corn and soybean food plots as legumes replenish the nitrogen in the soil and corn depletes the nitrogen levels.

Planting annuals and perennials, I spend approximately $100 per acre per year (on average). This includes seeds and fertilizer. There are plenty of articles that will help you determine the proper wooded:non wooded:food plot ratio for your property. Simply put, food plots are definitely the best 'bang for your buck' and will provide a balanced, high protein diet for your deer herd.

If your mind is set on deer feed, any deer feed with at least 16%-18% digestible crude protein will do the trick.
deer feeding
I will tell you from experience that if you feed your deer from a bag (corn,pellets ect) you will make your deer feed only at night. I have found that over the years that food planted will be much better for your hunting and produce more quality deer. Pellets are mostly by products of grain production and sometimes have little protein. corn has a high sugar content and really doesn't do al lot for antler production. get some good summer food plot mix and you will not regret it. This is only my openion
In the spring I dump the corn out of my feeders to get rid of coons. I put soybeans in my feeders all summer. You wont find a better feed for you feeder. Coons and birds dont eat it so you dont need to feed as much. Up to 32% protein and the deer will love it. Deer need 18% protein to product their best racks and for doe milk production.

I have one field in Whitetail institute clover year around and the other I rotate summer American jointvetch and mix with lab lab. They tear this up. In the winter I plant in this one plot with a mix of clover trinnical, turnups and rape.

Winter I go back to corn in my feeder along with rice brand on the ground. Winter deer need carbs.

I am in the process of making a mineral feeder but am not sure what I will put in it yet.

I do have mineral sites. I buy 100 lbs of trace mineral salt, 50 lbs of rock salt, 50 lbs of di-calcium phospate. I mix equal portions and it works great and deer love it. I normally mix in a bucket and fill 5 lb coffee cans to freshen up my sites.

I have been doing this for the last 20 years and the more I do the better it gets.

Good luck
Look at the label on deer pellets, they contain much more than protein. Putting minerals on the ground causes them to eat dirt, ingesting parasites and disease. With pellets they will abandon dirt licks. Look at the difference in health of theses bucks and does. After a long rut mature bucks may not survive, much less grow good horns, without supplemental feed right now.
Deer feed question
I will have to say that delta whitetail Hi-pro will give you results. I have been using it for 2 years after using all the name brand feeds over the past 12 years and the Hi Pro is a far superior feed
The only thing I ever fed a swamp donkey is 150 gr boat tail at 3350 fps!
Thanks Again Guys
I want to say thank you to all of you guys who have provided some great advice to me! I agree that I think providing nothing but supplemental feed can cause deer to switch to becoming almost completely nocturnal. I've noticed that as well and agree with it.

I wanted to let y'all know I am planning on doing some food plots as well this summer. I've consulted a land/wildlife manager for one of my friend's deer camps and his suggestion was cow peas. Said they are very easy to upkeep, extremely drought and browse resistant and high in protein. I'm going to try to get at least 3 plots planted in them around the lease this summer. So I will be doing food plots. Every fall we plant our 5-7 food plots in winter wheat and oats but we don't do much in way of summer nutrition.

I'm trying to give the deer on our land every advantage I can. It's pretty obvious that some of the bucks are not getting the full nutrition they need as evidenced by the pics I've attached. I'm trying to get them as much protein and minerals as I can--but I'm on a budget. I don't have a ton of money to throw around, so I'm trying to do it responsibility money wise but I also want as much bang for my buck as I can get. Obviously, the land is beyond too wet to even attempt to plant anything right now and it's not planting season anyways--so I'd like to try to get some form of protein out there for them to use. That's why I'd like to try the Hi-Pro pellets for the spring until I can get the plots in and established.

The winter wheat and oat plots are still there, and 3 or 4 of them are still doing well--the other 3 or 4 have been drowned out or over-browsed. As I mentioned, I'm going to put out 3 mineral sites on the place using Trophy Rocks. The deer herd is over-all very healthy on our place, fawn production and survival rate from what I can gather is very high--might be too high. I'm going to have to doe some aggressive doe removal this fall, the buck to doe ratio is way off. But there are plenty of bucks--at least 10 shooters/up and coming shooters) that to my knowledge survived this season with another 8-10 young bucks that need a lot of development. I'm just trying to do all I can to really manage it well.

I do appreciate the suggestions and am always welcome to more of them if you're willing to give them. Again, see some of the attached pics of the young bucks who I believe aren't getting enough nutrition because of the lack of antler mass as well as lack of over-all antler production.

Thanks again guys!
Good Bucks
To give you an idea of what the place can produce, I've attached some pics of the better deer on the land. There are some VERY good deer here, so I want to be sure they're getting all they need to express their full potential as well.

Thanks again!
A few more
Couple more of the better bucks.
Supplemental feeding DOES NOT make deer nocturnal and summer foodplots are a waste of time and money. S&J feeds have their blocks on sale for half price. Those pics are of 31/2 yr. old deer and shows how bad they need protein.
I thought it was pretty bad what some of the deer were looking like. I know the area just only has so much native browse to go around and some of the bucks were not getting the nutrition they needed.

Why do you consider summer plots a waste of time though? I do think the cost to gain margin with summer food plots would be greater than continually providing supplemental feed through the summer--but I could be wrong. Like I've mentioned, I'd like to provide feed until May/June--whenever I can get the plots going. I have limited amounts of money available to spend as it's pretty much just me putting up the money so if I can spend $150 on putting in food plots once to last me until we plant for the fall, I think that would be better spent then buying $25 worth of feed every 2-3 weeks from the beginning of summer until we can get the fall/winter plots in.

I could be wrong though. I just want to hear your reasoning for why you believe summer plots are a waste of time.

Also, where is S&J Feed--I'd like to look into those half price protein blocks. Thanks so much. Normally I buy the Delta Whitetail Blocks from Sanders. Are the blocks offered at S&J comparable?
S&J is in wm near paper mill. They have several kinds, some high protein, some just attractants. Summer foodplots are a great IDEA, but unless you're a farmer or u plant whitetail clover in the fall, you'll never get them to grow IF u have a good deer population. If u have a plot the deer are useing, right when they need it most u plow it up. Then u have bare dirt for 2 months till they start growing, what are they eating then? Same thing in the fall. So 4 months out of the year they are bare dirt. Clover is the only thing that will feed them yearround and has over 25% protein.
summer plots
Sorry but summer plots are very important for a healthy herd. More important than winter plots for bucks rack growth and fawn production and growth. I split my plots up. Half of them have Whitetail clover that all I do is lime, fertilize and bushhog. Should last for 7years. 4 years so far. The other I plant in the summer joint vetch with either lab lab or alyce clover. September 1st I will till and replant the summer plot for winter. In two weeks it is growing great again. (if we get rain)
Deer do not sit in one place and eat all there food. They like to keep moving so anything you can do to help them including protein feeders will help. Dont worry about putting minerals on the ground deer eat dirt all the time. I wish I could post a video of what I grow in tangiphoa parish around Amite.
feeding deer
Foodplots are the cornerstone of any program, they shouldn't be supplemental feed. However clover is the only thing that will grow with heavy deer pressure, has high protein, and lasts for years. Lets use meows model. Deer eats 10lbs natural food at 9%, its average intake is 9%. If u get it to eat 2lbs at 20% the average is 10%+, 4lds equals 13%. If u get them eating clover at 35% for 5lbs, u can increase the average to over 20%. Everday they come out they go straight to the clover, winter or summer. Some go to supplemental feed, some dont, but ALL eat the clover.
What kind of clover do you recommend. I planted some white clover this past fall--any recommendations?

Also, I'm unfamiliar with vetch. What is it? Do either of you recommend cow peas as I had mentioned before. I know they might not be as browse resistant as clover but from what I've been told they are very browse resistant and do very well in drought conditions which I'm sure we'll all face again this summer.

As I've mentioned, I will really be doing both supplemental feeding as well as summer food plots. I'll feed them until the plots get going good enough to sustain them. I just can't afford to do both, and I know that.

What would either of you, or anyone else reading this, consider the best summer plots to plant. Obviously clover seems to be a popular choice, which I'm hoping the plot I planted this fall will really begin to take off this spring, because at this point, it's not showing me much. I want something that is very high in protein though because I got to get these big boys something to grow with and of course, get the poor malnourished guys something too.
I use whitetail institute clover. Durana clover is also good. Both wil come back year after year with only lime, fertilizer and mowing. This will save money. Clover does not grow in the summer. It will stay alive but does not do well in the heat of summer. It is spring when clover is at its best. The pea's are good but if you dont have alot of land to plant they will eat it up to fast and then your done. American Joint Vetch (Aeschynomene americana L.) will come back when deer eat it. It is great for drought and high heat. The hotter the better for this make the plant sweeter. You will see deer in the plot in the middle of the day eating it mid summer. You will hate to till this up in september because of all the deer sign. A freeze will kill Joint vetch not a frost. Lab Lab and Alyce clover grow well in the summer also and can take deer feeding pressure and come back.
Mineral sites are good also. Anything you can do will help.
Then you will have to let the little ones walk. Good luck.

Almost forgot the most important part of a food plot. Lime and Fertilizer. Test your plots to see what you need. You may be suprised. I had one last year that had a ph of 4.8. I spent alot of money on seed and fertilizer for nothing. Nothing grow. The test showed I needed lime and nothing else. Still working on this one.
Whitetail institute. Clover does grow in summer, how u think it lives for years? Plant it in lower and shadier areas if ur in the hills. Planting anything in logsets on top of hills is tough. Clover comes up, then starts growing its roots, so it takes a while to take off. Deer seem to like it better in the second year. Check my posts on foodplots. They are great, but takes a lot of trial and error and at least 5% of your property to be effective.
re-read my post. I never said it would die. It does not grow good in the summer. It will maintain thats all. It will hold its own but if you get alot of pressure on it then it will not come back good until fall. I should know we have had it on 6 acres of food plots for the last 4 years. Planting in the shade has its own problems in the fall when the leaves cover the plot.
deer numbers
If u only have 30 deer psm, u dont even need plots ezcept as attractants and anything will grow with that low number. If u have 30 deer and 20 of those are does, that only leaves 10 bucks. With half of those young, now ur talking 5 shooters on 640 acres. Thats not even enough for 2 hunters.
Great Advice
Thanks to both of you guys. I'm really taking this information to heart as far as what I'm considering to do. Like I said, I planted some clover in the fall--white clover, but I think I ran into the leaves covering the plot problem. I'm hoping it'll take off a little this spring, but we'll see.

I'm not 100% sure how many deer we have PSM, but I know on the 450 acres we have at least 10 bucks who will be shooters for sure next season, and those are just the one's I've documented. So there's no telling how many total we have. For every shooter buck, we have around 2 bucks that just aren't there yet. So we're looking at anywhere from 25-30 bucks total that I've gotten on camera. I think our doe to buck ratio is close to 3:1, so I know I need to reduce the doe herd some this fall.

I've got some work to do, but in my defense, this season was my first to be able to hunt this land: married into the family. This will be my first summer to really get my hands dirty and see what I can do with the place. The bigger bucks have gotten big from age and just what nutrition they had available to them naturally. As I've mentioned, we've only done fall plots and they are mostly shooting plots, not really even feeding plots, except for 2 of them. They've never gotten summer minerals or supplemental feeding, no spring/summer plots.

I'm just trying to do what I can with the limited budget I have. I can't break the bank and will do all I can to stay in my budget. What do you think I should/could do. You two obviously have a lot more experience than I do, so please, continue to share this information.

When should I get my mineral rocks out? I want to put them out tomorrow afternoon, but I've had some people tell me that it's a waste to put them out before turkey season. Same with supplemental feeding--I know you said to go ahead and get the feed out now hunt r. I'm going to stop by S&J tomorrow afternoon when I get off work. About what prices are those blocks--give or take. Thought I'd ask.
They were about $7 each, they had about 4 kinds, i bought 2 kinds. Check the labels then decide whats best for u. Whatever u do gets some blocks out now. West of ouachita river deer are about a month earlier in their patterns. East the mature bucks havent come back to feed yet, but when they do they will eat for an hour at a time. I've only got pics of couple big bucks in the last month, but i expect tomorrow to get some. U seem to have good numbers of deer and good ratio with some nice older bucks. Dont worry about does unless u want some meat, on that size the neighbors will kill enuf. U esp. want to get some mature does to learn ur sanctuary so try to kill the youngest ones. Most of the time people think their plots arent growing its grazing pressure. Try an exclusion fence(or just a big limb) to see how much they're eating it. Put up a v shaped net wire to put ur blocks in, sometimes the bucks will knock their horns off save u from looking. Also look into hinge cutting sweet gum, maple, elm, or willow trees. Do this around the edge of ur plots, gives more sunlight and increases browse. Anything u can do helps, and just learning about deer is its own reward.
deer food
HUNTR, you are always full of good info and I do appreciate your post but I think you are wrong on summer food plots. We started planting summer plots a couple years ago and it has really helped our deer quality. They only draw back is sometimes they will eat them up as fast as you can plant them. We did one rather large field last year with soybeans and hardly any made it, they ate the plants as soon as they sprouted up. clover is good if you plant early, it don't do good in summer. protein blocks is a good supplement but you will spend a lot of money keeping up with them.
deerman, i been wrong so many times u gotta be more specific than that! Only couple bucks returned to my spots, so feeding them is early yet. The 20lb attractant blocks from purina only lasted a couple days, not worth the money. The 40lb seem to last much longer and are high protein. Now if i can just find one to feed. Dont know where they go now. Got 150 pics on one cam, 140 of them bears.
Deer Feed
Many hunters, land managers, and biologists believe that a 18% protein food source is needed for bucks to achieve maximum antler growth and does to achieve maximum fawn production. And this is true, but itís not. Protein levels are of most importance during specific times of the year.
For antler growth, that period is from late winter through the end of the antler-growing period. For fawn production, the period when protein levels are most critical to does is during fetal development and lactation. And in general, protein levels are highest in native forage during spring and fall and are lowest during summer and winter. This makes sense.
But what about when protein becomes limited, such as during the summer and winter? Deer can compensate for this seasonal availability of protein through protein recycling, but this means proteins will be used for critical functions first. Itís not a coincidence that antler growth and fawn development coincide with the seasonally high level of proteins during the spring.
Although deer can survive a dry spring, bucks will produce antlers that are smaller than their potential and does may abort fawns prior to birth or abandon them shortly thereafter. High protein levels are not critical for deer survival, but ďexcessĒ protein definitely increases antler size, as well as fawning rates in most cases.
deer feed
here are some young bucks at my feeder eating the delta whitetail hi-pro feed