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They have to eat
On the tv shows and sometimes here you hear that deer are holed up because of the bad weather.
Well, I've been feeding whitetails by the house. We've got terrible conditions for them, water all over that has frozen for now and most of their food is inaccessible. First year I've felt compelled to feed.
Well, back to topic. Last night we had near blizzard conditions. Winds over 30 all night and it's impossible to tell how much snow came down since on the flats, nothing stopped and some of my fields that had a foot are now almost bare.
In the middle of the night, with all that going on they came and cleaned up the food I'd put out. Wheat, cracked corn, and crabapples.
Hmmmm. Dangerous. If the deer are used to nothing but woody browse that can be toxic for them.
Just be careful introduce any new food slowly. If you are going to feed you should start long before the deer are in trouble. Shawn
Big mistake to start feeding them anything like that this late in the winter! They'll eat it and won't be able to digest it properly since they aren't eating that kind of stuff right now and they'll literally die with a full belly!
From reading his post. I believe he has been feeding them for a while. And he was just wanting to say that the deer came up and ate even with all of the bad weather.
If you’ve been continuously feeding them through the winter the same thing they should be fine unless new deer suddenly move in.
Humans with our big brains seem to think we know what's right for critters when truth is, they don't really need our help. Some critters live and some critters die during the winter but come spring more will be born. Been working like that for a couple years or so now.
Okay, I should have put a little more background in. I am surrounded by wheat fields. It's a major part of their diet. The pellets are a 16% feed. I've been doing this for quite a while and started them slow. Same for the corn.
There are piles of wheat that could not be salvaged when the local elevator recovered their monster pile they put on the ground each year. Deer gather by the dozen.
Woody browse is not the major part of our deer's diet. Just not enough around to keep them going. Winter wheat that has come up before the snow/ice formed is a major part. I don't put enough out that they can rely solely on what I provide.
Now maybe we can discuss their feeding in near blizzard conditions.
That tells me they are hungry and food is scarce,
How bout all you guys go out in the same conditions and try to live with no food.
As a sidebar, a few weeks ago, I wrote a magazine article about fishing in cold water. Here in the South, most anglers are of the mindset that fishing is terrible when the water is in the low 40's. The focus of the article was on, "They Have to Eat". Same is true for deer. Actually, in extreme cold, deer require more food therefore, must eat more.
I'm thinking that a herd like yours, that has a known and reliable...........and most likely a close to their beds ... food source , is probably more likely to get up and feed when they are hungry during a storm.
Conversely , a hungry herd that is bedded during a storm , and has to forage around for its next meal.... realizing they're not sure where their next meal will come , may stay bedded till the storm passes as a way to conserve energy. Seems inefficient to go out looking for a meal during a storm..... unless you know the meal is definitely going to be there.
This may or may not fit your current Montana situation but according to Deer and Deer Hunting writers. "studies show that a WT's metabolism can drop by half during the depths of winter and deer may only venture out to feed once a day. If conditions are especially brutal, the WT will hole up for days at a time, using fat reserves to fuel the lower metabolic rate and come out ahead." I personally saw this when I worked with the DOW of Michigan in the UP of Michigan on a deer research project, when I was in grad school. If the deer went into the winter with good fat reserves, had shelter, they survived just fine. The key here is "good fat reserves" and then, "winter conditions" in early Spring not allowing them to build up and to venture out, The wind blowing 30 mph and clearing the snow from the field will surely help. In some parts of the UP of Michigan the deer had to deal with 3-4 feet of snow on the level and tried to stay in wintering yards (mostly dense cedar trees) to feed in, and made trails to travel just to get around.
Spring is just around the corner, I hope the local deer herd does well.
I think Bill may have it. Knowing where food is and it's somewhat concentrated may prompt them to ignore the weather.
Bowriter, you can check me on this, but I think research has shown that whitetails, once the temps get so low, actually eat less and will lose weight no matter how much food is available.