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I’m sure people have differing opinions on feeding but I am wondering if anyone has a suggestion on what I could use that is safe, economical, and relatively easily accessible. I’m in CT and enjoy watching the deer from the house during the winter. I have heard that corn isn’t great to give them, any better alternatives or am I better off just not putting anything out? Thanks!
I feed premium alfalfa hay. I enjoy watching them and they enjoy eating it. But yeah....your probably better off not feeding them.
I picked up 2 bags of "deer and elk" pellets at Tractor Supply for $13 a bag. I have put that out but just a coffee can or so a day. It is high in protein according to the bag. Not sure if it is the best or the right thing to do. Problem is if it gets wet it will just decompose. I do sprinkle a little corn with it but that is more for the other critters.
I feed sunflower screenings here. I’m a pretty big believer in that. Years ago I fed corn or alfalfa but I think it’s just too rich. The sunflower screenings have a lot of the plant stock ground up with the odd seeds, seems like just a much more natural diet if you can call a pile natural. I haven’t found a single winter kill around my piece when feeding this diligently through the winter and I feed about 30 deer, so I bring out about 20 gallons/day. In our area it does definetly make a difference to how they fair through the winter. Oh and the screening are dirt cheap compared to corn. I’m paying about $90 for a 1300# tote All this is based on my experiences north of the border with fairly extreme temps and pretty solid snow cover, so the results may differ for you.
Supplemental grain will not hurt them, too much if in starvation state can kill ruminants. This fact leads to lots of fake news regarding feeding corn. Corn is fine if they are not starving and the deer also have access to other foods. In fact, just like with most ruminants, corn and other grains can be fantastic deer supplements when fed properly.
Try golden nuggets. Pelletized feed that's 22% protein.
I don't think your winters down there can even qualify as "extreme" so it prob isn't going to do much harm. North of the border here I think the main importance for guys that feed is that they start early enough if they have rich food. I know one particular bad winter I started feeding last day of the season and fed most of the winter. I had to drive 35 minutes each way once a week. The deer I had on camera that winter all survived in a year when we had over 50% mortality. Brutal winter. So you can't tell me it's all bad. I was feeding grain only cause it's all I could get my hands on for a decent $.
The pic of a buck attached is one that showed up that I had never seen. he fed there non stop and made it through two absolutely brutal winters and I hunted him for 5 years after this. Another buck he hung out with was slightly better and turned into a 170 a year later and ended up in a spot my brother could hunt him. It was a ton of effort for me to feed that winter, but it was good. I wish I could do it easier where I hunt cause I am sure it makes a difference.
Same here, I feed all winter as do the neighbors. One thing I worry about is congregating them making it easy picking for the wolves. I combat that by clearing a 400 yard long path with my tractor and snowblower. I rarely see an adult buck in my feed.
If, as you say, you just enjoy watching deer, it doesn't matter what you feed them as long as they like it. Peanut butter is great. Buy it in half-gallons, the cheapest you can find. But because you live in CT. Be careful Pat doesn't slip in and shoot one. :)
Like Missouribreaks says. Do it in moderation, little at a time. If you have corn fields in the area feeding them corn is your best bet.
MissouriBreaks already nailed it IMO. You can't tell me that a modest amount of corn that a deer might get from a feeder is any different than the same deer scrounging through a cornfield on it's own.
I'M in CT and have been feeding year round for 7 years. Definitely helps the quality of the deer. I use 50 / 50 mix of whole corn and Wildlife grains from blue seal sold at Agway as well as a single mineral block--- Its fun to watch the bucks mature over the years. as well as the pecking order of does with fawns. You can start to tell them as individuals after a few years as they all have different traits. all in all a great past time-- Good luck, Kent
I run the deer and elk pellets from tractor supply year round. The nice thing is, the raccoons and squirrels never touch them but the deer love them. I do 2 bags a month out of a gravity feeder. Helps keep the deer in my area close and it can't hurt em.
I too enjoy watching and studying deer. But I do no supplemental or any other kind of feeding. Don't have to down here.
As a biologist I have lectured on this issue to the point where it is a waste of time. Numerous studies have been done but deer feeding or what we call farming is a huge business. Deer are equipped to survive winter and a rough winter is a genetic cleanser. If all the money and calories thrown on the ground were put into maintaining quality habitat, there would be no biological reason to feed deer other than to keep them on your property in order to kill or look at them. We tagged a buck in Pittsburg, NH that traveled 11 miles per day hitting back yards until he was hit, along with 100+ other deer crossing Rte 3 to access back yards. This feeding issue is all about habitat quality versus more deer to kill, more license sales, grain sales, etc. With politics and armchair biology, all we can do is advise that supplemental feeding be supplemental. However, when everyone is feeding and deer are traveling, raising their metabolism and burning fat stored in the summer and fall, it isn't supplemental anymore. If the economy crashes and people stop feeding in areas where the habitat can't support the artificial carrying capacity we have created, there will be huge winterkill. It's an emotional issue, but looking at Lymes disease, habitat destruction, crop loss due to deer damage, making it easier for coyotes to kill deer, about all we can do as biologists is hope, because if catastrophe hits, we will be blamed. We find up here is that the biggest deer kill comes from winter road kills and the die-off in late winter when soft snow takes its toll as coyotes key on deer looking for handouts. People find it too expensive and the coyotes hang out around the edges picking off deer that stray, looking for browse. End of spiel. Until we as hunters put our money and efforts into quality habitat creation, it is what it is. That is, until disease or weather step in.
Lawdy is dead on. Vehicle/deer collisions are almost a daily occurrence around my house. I have given up on preaching to my neighbors to stop feeding any of the wildlife.