As we drove off the property, Greg Hackney and I passed a large flat-bed trailer being towed to the club’s camp. On that trailer were sacks of protein.
Hackney could barely contain his excitement.
“We’ve got 29 feeders set up on the property, and we’re going to pour protein to the deer for four months this spring,” he said.
When all was said and done, deer on the property ate 16 tons of protein.
“We did eight tons originally, and they ate that up pretty quickly,” club president Paul Wiggins explained. “So we went and got four more (tons), and then four more after that.”
Wiggins said the impact on antler development was yet to be proven, since this was the first year club members sprung for protein. However, he said benefits went far beyond simply producing more trophies.
“We go through a time when food is a little short coming out of the season,” he said. “Protein will help get them through that time period.”
Hackney, while concerned with the overall wellbeing of the deer herd, couldn’t be more optimistic about the prospects for bigger-racked bucks after the feeding program.
“We kill some really nice bucks already, so this area has the genetics,” he said. “All these deer got this big eating weeds — just think what feeding protein will do.”
Regardless of the goal in feeding protein — herd health or larger racks — the bottom line is that such supplementary programs aren’t out of the reach of many clubs.
“I figured it out the other day, and 16 tons cost us right at $8,000,” Wiggins said. “That’s $1,000 a member, so it’s really not that expensive.”