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Deer feeder vs. bedding area

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by hq, Dec 25, 2012.

  1. hq

    hq Well-Known Member

    The land I own is mainly full of deer bedding; somewhat dense spruce/pine/birch woods with plenty of cover and the deer have more or less "moved in". A couple of days ago I counted 30+ places where deer have slept, all over my property, right after a snowstorm so these "beds" weren't more than a few hours old.

    Currently I don't have a feeder. The land (an island, connected to mainland by marsh and a gravel road) is surrounded by farmland, meaning that deer have plenty of feeding places until the snowfall and after that a local hunting club keeps a number of feeders, the closest one is about a mile from me. There's plenty of deer on my land, but mainly during nighttime. Sometimes afternoons as well, but it seems that they move to feeders during hunting hours and return around midnight.

    I, of course, would like to keep my hunting opportunities open, which means that I've been planning to put a feeder on my land. The only problem is that it'll have to be near the bedding area. About a quarter of a mile or less. I've tried to buy more land, but to no avail; 300-400 acres surrounding my property is nature conservation area, which is not for sale and no-one hunts there. It's mainly wetland so it's no surprise deer have chosen my plot for bedding.

    What are the possible downsides to close proximity of feeder(s) and bedding? There are no large predators around. It's been a while since anyone has seen lynx tracks and there's no known wolf or bear population within at least 50 miles, so this won't be a honey trap for them. There are whitetails and roe deer around, so many that having apple trees and a small vegetable garden is a sheer impossibility, deer will eat anything and everything. They seem to like the place and the whole idea about a feeder or two is for keeping them around during daylight.

    What do you think? All ideas and advice are very welcome.
  2. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    I can't think of any downside as long as it's legal.

    But before buying a feeder?
    Put out a salt block and some feed and see if they stick around during the day to slurp it up.

  3. 41 Mag

    41 Mag Well-Known Member

    I have a small place only 100 or so acres. I have set up three feeders on it and in the past 5-6 years, I have drawn in deer which now stay more or less on the place. I have 6 does which might travel across the fences for one reason or another but they bed down on our place and have their fawns there as well. A coupel fo them have had their fawns within 50yds of the house for the past couple fo years.

    I put a mix of corn and 30% protein pellets, and set the feeder to throw about 2# in the morning and evening. It isn't enough to totally sustain them but it is surely enough to help hold them there, and give the fawns a good boost in the spring.

    I also set up one that they could simply eat away at. I put a piece of perforated 1/4" plate on the bottom of a 55 gallon barrel with 4 pieces of 1/2" all thread to support itand a 4" drop tube which I rounded out some half rounds on 4 places at the bottom. This allowed the feed to be able to pour out of the bottom as it sat on top of the plate but not to the point they could simply dump the feeder over a weeks time. IT usually kept them coming for close to a month depending on how I set the gap between the plate and the pipe.

    I like the battery operated ones better though as the raccoons can easily empty the other one in less than a couple fo days. They will run a paw up inside the holes and rake the feed out as long as they can, then they will eat what they want and leave. Sure does ruin a good thing.

    Anyway if it is legal get on with it. The deer might shy away at first, but it only takes them about a week to figure out that motor running is the dinner bell ringing.
  4. hogshead

    hogshead Well-Known Member

    Sounds like an ideal place to me. I would try to stay far enough away from the beds till you could come and go without spooking them. Actually I would probably put the feed where I could watch it from my recliner. Just saying...
  5. sleepyone

    sleepyone Well-Known Member

    I would not think a feeder a 1/4 mile from their bedding area would be a problem.
  6. hq

    hq Well-Known Member

    Thanks. This sounds promising. There are no legal issues with feeders so I'll be safe. Practical ones are the only real concern.

    I had almost forgotten about salt, that might be a good start. I have a couple of spare 55gal barrels I've planned to use for DIY feeders; aesthetically they're anything but pleasing but making gravity feeders out of them is almost too easy. Battery operated automation is probably out of the question, temperature is often in mid teens, sometimes below zero and even if batteries work, snow can jam and clog the mechanism.

    The place I've had in mind is a forest clearing about 150 yards from my house, visible from the living room and balcony. One idea I've seen somewhere is installing a small, white LED on a 20-25' fishing rod, pointed down to the feeder, illuminating the area like moonlight, which shouldn't bother the deer. A huge improvement in fun factor, being able to see what's going on at night.

    There are raccoon dogs, foxes and even some badgers around so I'll probably have to figure out how to avoid feeding them as well. Or just shoot them on sight.

    All in all, this is an interesting project. I've never hunted that much here, mainly waterfowl and doves, and only recently realized that roe deer are legal game on this small patch of land, too. Whitetails still need separate permits/tags, but even that can be arranged.
  7. hogshead

    hogshead Well-Known Member

    I dont know if you can get any apples or not. If you can they seem to help the deer find the corn much quicker. here in the Us we have a lot of deer attractant liquids that you can pour on a stump or even the ground. They seem to help the deer find your corn quicker. Just a thought.
  8. Loyalist Dave

    Loyalist Dave Well-Known Member

    I was taught that as October begins and the rut approaches, the need for minerals diminishes, so at this time of year, not a great indicator of whether or not minerals will work well for you.

    I have also been taught that deer don't like sudden changes in habitat, and that you need to adjust what you might "feed" them, if you feed them at all. If you have that large a number of deer in a bedding area..., the deer have good food sources, and they are using your area to bed, so you already have the right mix, especially with that no-hunt area bordering your land.

    So if what I was taught is correct, suddenly introducing a corn feeder into an area where there is no corn might bother the deer for a while, and the season could be over before they start to frequent the feeding station. Also, match the type of feed in the area, so dumping apples near a corn field might not be very good, and the opposite, corn in an orchard might not be good either..., etc.

    I'd opt for the rest of this season, staking out the paths in and out of the bedding area. This is what I do where I hunt here in the States. I don't feed them, and the bordering farms don't have any corn, but the deer I harvested on Dec 8th was full of corn. So somebody's feeder helped me get a deer, OR the deer went a couple of miles from the cornfield to where he had been bedded down.

    For the coming year, I'd look into planting some patches of clover or other deer friendly crop, on your property, as this is a lot easier to work than reloading a feeder. Place the mineral blocks out in the spring so the deer become used to them, and the bucks will go after them when they are growing their racks in velvet. The crops and the minerals should give you some nice deer come next fall.

    Good luck to you.

  9. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

    It seems to take deer maybe a few days to a week to find a feeder, and within a few more days, any regular noise is for them a dinner bell.

    Generally, the does come to the feeder, and the bucks hang around in the edge of the brush and watch.
  10. adelbridge

    adelbridge Well-Known Member

    Cool to hear you have white tail in in Finland. We use feeders a lot in Texas but only corn seems to work in them. Protein pellets will spread from a feeder but they clog up the mechanism when they swell with any kind of humidity. If you can get corn in large bags up there you are in business otherwise a feeder may or may not work. One of the benefits of a timed feeder is the deer come when they hear it go off so you can pattern them to your convenience. They make solar panels for keeping batteries topped off and albeit rare I have hunted mechanical feeders in below freezing temperatures, they dont draw that much amperage. Check out feeder lights called Moonshine or Kill Lights, we use them for hogs and I have had whitetail at the feeders with them on.
  11. hq

    hq Well-Known Member

    Whitetail is actually an introduced species, a handful of fawns were shipped from Minnesota in mid 1930's and late 40's - now there's a population of 30.000, concentrated in 2-3 areas, and I'm in the middle of one of them. :)
    Roe deer is mostly native, roughly equally common and less regulated as far as hunting is concerned; no tags, shoot as many as you like during the season and just file a report afterwards.

    Timed feeder would probably be the best choice, but I'm slightly concerned about the weather. Last few days have been a prime example of what it can be at worst, Christmas eve+day we got a snowstorm, yesterday morning was 5°F, clear skies, now it's 35°F and raining, tomorrow everything will freeze over again. Anything mechanical or automated is going to have a heck of a time working as intended, let alone surviving the winter. Then again, I could pull a really long extension cord from the house to power (and heat/thaw) it. The most popular (and the cheapest) feed is oats, which I've planned to use. Corn is also easy to come by and dumping some apples and carrots next to the feeder might also be a good idea. I'll have to see what's available as locally as possible, to keep everything in line with existing feeding habits.

    There already is quite a lot of clover and especially wild fireweed on my property, which draws deer like magnet during the summer and early fall. This may have something to do with them choosing the bedding area as close as possible. This has been going on for years, since early 90's when we cut down a lot of trees and fireweed took over a couple of acres.

    In any case, the feeder is a long-term project. I'm not really expecting it to work very well this winter and we only have five weeks of hunting season left, which probably isn't sufficient to make much of a difference in how the deer behave. Keeping it running until spring and starting over next October or so will be interesting. This winter observation will be enough, even though given an opportunity, there's nothing that'll prevent hunting until the end of the season, January 31st. I just don't want to make mistakes as far as the placement and function of the feeder are concerned. ;)
  12. herkyguy

    herkyguy Well-Known Member

    i have 50 acres of dense brush, similar to what you've got, albeit smaller. there are lots of does and some respectable bucks in there. early in the fall, i made two feeders out of PVC piping and open U-joints at the bottom. i bungee them to trees. i lose a good deal of corn to small game, but it works for me.

    the interesting thing is that early in the season, i watched deer walk right past the corn only to find out later they were still fat and happy off acorns and crops in the surrounding fields. some days all the corn was gone with tracks everywhere and other times it would sit for days.

    i learned this year that deer won't necessarily eat the corn if there are other food sources around, especially if that's what they are used to. i think i'll stick with my PVC feeders and really ramp up keeping them full later next fall when other food supplies run out.
  13. MCgunner

    MCgunner Well-Known Member

    I hunt next to a big ranch. They bed on my place and I have the feeder within 300 yards of a bedding area. I have shot a few at the feeder, but a lot more away from it. It works best in dry years here when there's no acorns. We have lots of scrub oaks. But, a feeder really helps on tiny acreage, about the only way I can hunt what I can afford to own. I paid the taxes on it today, glad it ain't a lot of land, put it that way. LOL It's not planted or fenced, so no ag exemptions on the property taxes, but it's a lot cheaper than a comparable good deer lease.
  14. herkyguy

    herkyguy Well-Known Member

    just paid my property tax as well. it's still based off the value of the land before the market dropped.... so even though we got a great deal on the price, it cost me a pretty penny in taxes. but there is something cool about harvesting a deer off your own land!
  15. adelbridge

    adelbridge Well-Known Member

    the other feeder we use is an ATV or truck based feeder. You drive to where you want to spread the corn and hit the button and you are done. Y'all might have a similar product to spread rock salt that you could adapt. If you go out once a day the deer get hooked on it fast. They hear the noise and as soon as you clear out they come running in your wake. Once you are on stand have a buddy drive by and minutes later they appear. If you have no helper you can bring the spreader and a battery to your stand and hit the button once you have settled in. I have put a handful of corn in a beer can and shook it to simulate the same sound successfully.
  16. Patocazador

    Patocazador Well-Known Member

    MCgunner and herkyguy:

    Fence your land and put a cow/carrying capacity on it or plant and harvest a portion in hay. You can then get an agricultural exemption that will drop your taxes way down. It will pay off in just a few years.
    (I was hunting on a place near San Angelo years ago and it was all cactus and cedars. The owner bragged that he could graze a cow for every 10 acres. It looked to me like it would take at least 100 acres of that land to feed a cow.) We have to have a cow/5 acres here for an ag exemption.
  17. herkyguy

    herkyguy Well-Known Member

    thanks for the advice, i've been looking into it.
  18. Pistol Ranch

    Pistol Ranch Well-Known Member

    I have feeders within 200yards of known bedding areas with no problem. If you are going to use feeders and there are coons on your place, BE SURE TO GET VARMINT GUARDS FOR EACH FEEDER.
    FYI, a varmint guard is simply a wire cage that is bolted/screwed to the bottom of your feed barrel. It makes it difficult (not impossible) for a coon to reach the corn spinner mechanism. Coons are smart, without the guard, they will empty a 55 gallon barrel in a few days :cuss: ..been there, done that..!

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