Summit Treestands
Best Supplemental Winter Deer Feed?
Whitetail Deer
Contributors to this thread:
CAMPDAVID 30-Dec-20
greenmountain 30-Dec-20
APauls 30-Dec-20
BullBuster 30-Dec-20
kakiatkids 31-Dec-20
Wildan2 03-Jan-21
Scooby-doo 03-Jan-21
ahunter76 03-Jan-21
ahunter76 03-Jan-21
Zbone 03-Jan-21
Trial153 04-Jan-21
DanaC 04-Jan-21
skookumjt 04-Jan-21
Missouribreaks 04-Jan-21
TrapperKayak 04-Jan-21
Missouribreaks 04-Jan-21
JL 04-Jan-21
TrapperKayak 04-Jan-21
skookumjt 04-Jan-21
Missouribreaks 04-Jan-21
BullBuster 04-Jan-21
Missouribreaks 04-Jan-21
JL 04-Jan-21
Habitat 04-Jan-21
Missouribreaks 04-Jan-21
Treefarm 05-Jan-21
Missouribreaks 05-Jan-21
Treefarm 06-Jan-21
ahunter76 07-Jan-21
Kydeer1 07-Jan-21
Treefarm 07-Jan-21
Treefarm 07-Jan-21
Shuteye 07-Jan-21
Missouribreaks 08-Jan-21
Habitat 08-Jan-21
JL 08-Jan-21
BullBuster 08-Jan-21
pirogue 08-Jan-21
Missouribreaks 08-Jan-21
lawdy 08-Jan-21
From: CAMPDAVID
30-Dec-20
Looking for some advice on what is the safest ( for the deer) and most economical supplemental feed for Winter time. Any detailed experiences would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.

30-Dec-20
Here in Vermont feeding deer in the winter is illegal. Many of the land owners who hunt and also burn wood. Cut trees right after deer season and let them stay where they fall until late winter. The tops make good feed. The best cut trees in several places on their property to keep from concentrating the deer too much. The best "deer feed" is habitat improvement.

From: APauls
30-Dec-20
I'm feeding deer in my yard. I have no bush basically and have to entice them over, but seems to be working. I bought a tote of sunflower screenings which was like $65 for 800 lbs. They are incredibly light by volume so easy to carry a lot at a time. Screenings have little nutritional value as they are basically like ground up sunflower plants. But there are seeds in there as well as chaff. I think it's a good mixture as it isn't high nutritional content so it is suitable for this time of year where their rumen can not handle rich foods. I know some people that have used it for 5-10 years, and never had dead deer. On the contrary, basically 100% survival rates. So seems like a great option. Fits my budget for a winter's worth of food as well ;)

From: BullBuster
30-Dec-20
Oats have high fiber and carbs. Reasonably priced at $130 per ton here. Deer devour it.

From: kakiatkids
31-Dec-20

kakiatkids's Link
This farme in Maine uses oats. He has been doing it for years. Worth view if you have nothing to do one night

From: Wildan2
03-Jan-21
Around here they use soy-bean round bales.About $80 a pop,1k weight.

From: Scooby-doo
03-Jan-21
Illegal in NY to feed, you can plant and leave it but no dumping feed!! Shawn

From: ahunter76
03-Jan-21

ahunter76's embedded Photo
ahunter76's embedded Photo
I feed bushytails and birds. We throw corn, sunflower seeds & birdseed on the ground for them + 6 birdfeeders.. This was Today. 10 total.

From: ahunter76
03-Jan-21

ahunter76's embedded Photo
ahunter76's embedded Photo
I feed bushytails and birds. We throw corn, sunflower seeds & birdseed on the ground for them + 6 birdfeeders.. This was Today. 10 total.

From: Zbone
03-Jan-21
I feed shelled corn for all critters year round, 365...

From: Trial153
04-Jan-21
Good way to get a ticket in NY considering its illegal, and now more so since CWD awareness is up its being enforced more often.

From: DanaC
04-Jan-21
Shelled peanuts or horse feed. Striped sunflower seeds. NOT corn. BUT, better to manage habitat for wildlife and keep herd numbers in balance with the land.

From: skookumjt
04-Jan-21
Good habitat. Supplemental feeding typically causes more harm than good. Concentrating deer puts pressure on the natural browse in the area, stresses deer, makes predation much easier.....

04-Jan-21
Mix it up with various feeds, it all helps.

From: TrapperKayak
04-Jan-21
Deciduous treetops from blowdown or fallen trees are most beneficial for supplemental browse, IMO. Deer flock to that stuff. Cut down some oak, maple or beech trees if you want to feed deer.

04-Jan-21
Apples, sugar beets, sunflower seeds, corn, wheat, barley, oats, pumpkins, livestock pellets, etc, etc. These feeds work great for those with smaller parcels and little or no available logging.

All hunters can and should contribute, not just those with larger parcels. Also benefits wildlife beyond deer. A deer only mentality is limiting in so many ways.

From: JL
04-Jan-21
I have read several studies on winter deer feeding up north. I recall the consensus seemed to be it's ok provided you do it throughout the winter and not stop. Where folks (the deer) get into trouble is when folks start to feed them and then stop mid-winter. It messes up their digestive systems. I suspect that is why many northern DNR's/F&G's do not allow it.....the concern folks will not follow thru and end up harming the deer.

From: TrapperKayak
04-Jan-21
I have a bunch of brush piles out back that the rabbits also benefit from while feeding on all the blackberry bushes out there. And I wired the deer carcass further out for the predators to fight over. :) Sunflower seeds for the birds, and corn cobs for the squirrels, deer hump tallow for the woodpeckers. What else did I forget? Not much else around here to feed.:)

From: skookumjt
04-Jan-21
JL. That is opposite of the problem. When people start to feed corn, hay, etc. in the winter when the deer don't have the correct gut bacteria to digest it, the deer will die of acidosis.

04-Jan-21
Especially with grains which break into the three VFA's. To avoid, best to recreational feed most of the year.

From: BullBuster
04-Jan-21
Keep in mind that suddenly ending supplemental feeding is less dangerous than suddenly starting it.

04-Jan-21
I suggest where legal interested hunters supplemental feed all year. Be a giver to the resource, not just a taker.

From: JL
04-Jan-21

JL's Link
Skook.....check out this article from the MSU extension office regarding winter feeding up north. They discourage it for several very good reasons. However, for those who want to do it AND can maintain it.....this is what MSU suggests. That is why if one can't/won't maintain a feed program throughout the winter....do not do it or start it. Also consider the deer will use standing ag/bait plots throughout the winter. I personally wouldn't do a winter feeding program due to the cost and resource availability.

"Once a nutritious deer feeding program begins, it needs to be maintained until green-up. If not, deer mortality will be higher than if no feeding occurred in the first place. For a landowner, costs can easily run into the thousands of dollars, with little to show for it.

Deer can starve from eating food that they cannot digest. A diet of about 25 percent corn and 75 percent second-cut alfalfa has had some success in the Upper Peninsula. Feed pellets are generally recommended for those who insist on feeding deer, as long as the pellets remain in good condition. As for spring fawning, the late summer and early fall nutritional condition is likely more important than winter nutrition.

Better alternatives to deer feeding are habitat improvements and increased hunting pressure. Hunting is a critical tool to help balance deer population size with habitat conditions. Management plans for earlier successional forest types and winter cover will benefit game species. This usually means timber harvesting, including clearcutting in appropriate timber types. Getting the smaller, younger deer into the freezer can save them, and the forest, from considerable hardship.

According to Michigan State University Extension, the key to a healthy deer herd lies in good habitat (forest) management, focused hunting priorities, and accepting that severe winters will result in the loss of the younger and weaker animals. Winter supplemental feeding is an entirely inadequate substitution."

Here is another link showing the Michigan DNR was doing permits for folks to supplemental feed in targeted areas of the Yoop. It looks like if the snow level index is too high, they will issue permits to do supplemental feeding.

https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/MIDNR/bulletins/180fdd5

Jan. 17, 2017

Contact: Terry Minzey 906-485-1031, ext. 311 or John Pepin, 906-226-1352 Supplemental deer feeding permits available in southern U.P.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources today announced the availability of winter supplemental deer feeding permits across the southern section of the Upper Peninsula.

Winter Michigan deer Permits allowing private citizens and sportsmen's groups in the U.P. to provide supplemental feed for deer during the winter months are issued by local DNR wildlife biologists under certain provisions.

Supplemental feeding in the northern part of the region began earlier this month. For the southern U.P., accumulated snowfall depth measurements trigger the issuance of permits.

“Although we continue to have high concerns regarding potential for communicable diseases, such as chronic wasting disease, and would prefer that people not feed deer, the snow depth readings we tabulated today reached the level where we begin to issue supplemental deer feeding permits,” said Terry Minzey, DNR U.P. regional wildlife supervisor.

Snowfall depth totals are collected beginning in November.

For Iron, Dickinson, Delta and Menominee counties and that portion of Marquette County south of the boundary between Township 43 North and Township 44 North, permits are issued if accumulated snowfall depth averaged between the Crystal Falls and Escanaba DNR field offices reaches 48 inches by the Monday nearest Jan. 15.

In Schoolcraft and Mackinac counties and that part of Chippewa County south of the T43N-T44N boundary line, permits are issued if accumulated snowfall depth averaged between the Manistique and Naubinway DNR field offices reaches 60 inches by the Monday closest to Jan. 15.

It’s important to consider the types of food used to feed deer.

Easily digestible food sources most beneficial for feeding deer include grains, second-cut alfalfa, clover, and pelletized deer food. Although deer make use of apples, potatoes, sugar beets, carrots, and many other foods during summer and fall, these provide little benefit for deer during winter conditions and are not legal for supplemental feeding under permits.

“Permits are free of charge and may be obtained from wildlife biologists at several of our DNR offices located across the U.P. Permission must also be obtained from the landowner,” said John Pepin, DNR deputy public information officer. “There are several rules in place for supplemental deer feeding.”

Among them:

Feed must be placed at least a quartermile or more from the nearest paved public highway (this includes any paved, asphalt, or concrete roadway); at least 1 mile from domestic farm animals, and at least 1 mile from wheat or potato fields, commercial fruit orchards or commercial plant nurseries or tree farms, unless otherwise specified in the permit. Feed can consist only of grains, second cut alfalfa and clover, and pelletized food materials containing no animal protein. The feed must be scattered on the ground at a depth not to exceed 3 inches. Anyone issued a supplemental feeding permit must agree to assist the DNR in collecting deer tissue samples for disease surveillance and must report to the DNR by May 30 the quantity and type of feed used, dates and duration of feeding, and other required information specified in the permit. Anyone who fails to comply with the supplemental feeding provisions will be ineligible for any future supplemental feeding permits.

In the event chronic wasting disease (CWD) is documented at a location within Michigan, within 10 miles of Michigan's border with another state or Canadian province, or as determined by the DNR director, the director will issue an interim order banning the use of bait and the feeding of deer and elk, at a minimum, within the relevant CWD management zone.

Recreational feeding of wildlife is also allowed on private land in the U.P. year-round, provided the feed is placed within 100 yards of a residence and the total amount of feed does not exceed 2 gallons at any time. The feed must be scattered on the ground and must be at least 100 yards from areas accessible by livestock.

Supplemental deer feeding permits are available by contacting DNR offices located in Baraga, Marquette, Crystal Falls, Escanaba, Newberry, Sault Ste. Marie and Shingleton (Cusino).

From: Habitat
04-Jan-21
Most of the above info pertains to the really cold northern states which most of produce corn anyway so the poison isn't really an issue.Corn is high in carbs and low in protein so soybeans helps with that,I have fed Real World feed and Trophy Rack golden nuggets and the deer eat them both really well.This doesn't stop them from eating browse or crops and not every deer within a mile shows upo at once. There are less on the feeder than in the field at 1 time.Also CWD has never been proven to be spread at a higher rate in areas that feed A really good podcast on this is White Knuckle productions #006 with Grant Woods.

04-Jan-21
Not good to look at extremes, then generalize to all areas.

From: Treefarm
05-Jan-21
Best not to treat deer as agricultural animals and let them survive on their own how they have for centuries. When deer perish, this helps balance carrying capacity. Artificially feeding deer carries a population artificially high, and carryover of weakened deer makes population growth even worse.

People cannot let emotions guide their thought. Deer do not need to be fed in the winter. Deer do just fine browsing naturally.

If you want to help deer, make the habitat better. Artificially feeding deer is never needed.

05-Jan-21
You are correct, artificial food whether planted and plotted, or sprinkled on the ground is never needed, never! Just depends on the desired hunting experience.

Some deer will always survive no matter how severe the winters, diseases, and wolf predation.

Why are so many hunters not happy hunting what remains of the carrying capacity, say in northern Wisconsin?

Why do some bait plot? What are the plotting objectives.. and will simple browse meet those same objectives? Personally, I do not believe that to be true. For sure not on my lands.

From: Treefarm
06-Jan-21
Winter feeding of deer will never stop. I guess I can only implore you never feed them corn when deer are using it as a primary stomach filler.

I guess an analogy would be like you eating 3 meals a day, but eating a cup of sugar mixed with some fiber. Your body does not get nutrients from this diet. Unfortunately, deer can get acidosis, a lethal condition caused by the high carbohydrate diet. First signs are diarrhea all over the place. Next, dead deer who either pile up in a bed or picked off by predators.

So, if your emotions guide you to feed deer, please do not include corn. Look for special blends of protein and fiber that deer can digest, quite often horse pellets have the needed digestible proteins.

But honestly, when winter comes, deer slowly switch over to woody browse. The gut flora returns all the nutrients needed until green up in spring.

A secondary issue with feeding deer is that they become habituated and when they congregate, predators also congregate, picking deer off one at a time. Deer also travel straight line to where people feed them and when they cross roads frequently, get hit by vehicles!

No amount of feeding can be done to help deer. Artificial feeding has been shown to do much more harm than good. Emotions run high on this, but in the end, do not interfere with deer by feeding them.

From: ahunter76
07-Jan-21

ahunter76's embedded Photo
ahunter76's embedded Photo
I need to stop the deer from going into the corn field daily north of me & eating corn from the past picking. I also need to tell them to stop eating ALL our bird seed from the feeders & the corn we put out "year round" for our Bushytails.. I don't want them getting sick & dying. We have 1 ice cream bucket of corn out daily, 2 cups of sunflower seeds & a half Ice cream bucket of bird seed onto the ground + 6 bird feered & 4 Suet feeders. It gets "gone" daily. Maybe in places they do not grow corn but here, they thrive on it year round..

From: Kydeer1
07-Jan-21
Feed em whatever you want. They need carbs this time of year and it's crazy to think that corn is bad for deer. They are tearing up corn fields all over the midwest right now and a pile vs scattered across a field makes no sense to harm deer. They can survive without any help but IMO anything extra you can offer can't hurt. I've got a couple green food plots and feeding corn and protein pellet mix as a supplement.

From: Treefarm
07-Jan-21
Yes, there are differences north to south where agriculture is prevalent. In the non-ag area I live in, deer switch from grasses to woody browse. Then come the baiters. Opportunistic deer gobble it up and get sick. We lost two elk last year that found a illegal pile of corn.

Feeding deer just is never needed. They have survived well before people started feeding them.

And no, deer do not need direct feeding of carbohydrates.

From: Treefarm
07-Jan-21

Treefarm's Link

From: Shuteye
07-Jan-21
I have a couple five gallon bucket feeders that broadcast feed at sun up and an hour before sunset. You can adjust the feed rate. The sun is what triggers the feed times. They have a six volt battery that lasts a long time. Corn cost me $7 for four five gallon buckets full. I adjust the feed rate so a bucket of corn lasts over a week. Birds, squirrels, coons, deer and turkeys all know what time the feeder goes off. I feed all winter. Deer in my area are born and raised on corn and soy beans. Some farmers leave some standing corn all winter for the animals. I will live trap some of the coons pretty soon to give to a coon hunter friend to train his young coon hound. I also have a large feeder that will hold 300 pounds of feed. It can be programmed to feed up to 12 times in 24 hours. You enter how many pounds of feed you put in the feeder and set the feed times. It has a digital read out and will show you how much feed is left in the container. I only set it for two times a day. I set up a trail cam watching the feeder and don't hunt there but I know what is in the area. There is a good ladder stand there but at my age I hunt mainly from a ground blind. I hunt the deer trails in my woods and the deer aren't nearly as cautious as when they get near a feeder.

08-Jan-21
Feeding wildlife is an exciting past time. Much is done by non hunters and does no harm.

From: Habitat
08-Jan-21
Feeding corn depends on if it's free of high toxin levels and other molds.Very rarely is there an issue.I saw Sportmix dog food was killing dogs and I imagine basically the same issue,toxin in grain meal.I know feed lots won't usually buy corn without testing also

From: JL
08-Jan-21
Tree's article:

""Elk found dead from eating corn in northern Wisconsin January 11, 2020

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Authorities say an elk was found dead in northern Wisconsin after it ate corn put out by a landowner in a misguided attempt to help wildlife.

The Department of Natural Resources said the animal found dead on Jan. 2 died from rumen acidosis, a direct result from eating the corn. The condition affects deer and elk when their diet is changed too rapidly from natural, high-fiber browse such as twigs to low-fiber, high-carbohydrate supplemental feeds such as corn, wheat and barley. It inhibits or stops digestion in affected animals; rapid death can result even in deer and elk in otherwise good physical condition.

The Journal Sentinel reports the elk, a young bull, was part of a contingent of animals transferred from Kentucky to Wisconsin in April. It had been released in the Flambeau River State Forest.

It died on private property near Tony in Rusk County, southwest of the state forest.

The elk was wearing a GPS tracking collar that emitted a mortality signal in late December.

Authorities say the landowner was not cited for a violation but has pledged a donation to the state’s elk program.""

This sounds like a situation where the property owner feeds the local wildlife and the elk wondered by and ate the corn intended for the other animals. If it was anything other, the property owner would have got cited. That makes you wonder how many deer and elk die from wondering into a corn field or plot during the winter? It might not be as many as folks suspect.

From: BullBuster
08-Jan-21
It’s likely dose and rate related. Critters cannot ingest nearly as much standing corn as they can a pile of whole corn.

From: pirogue
08-Jan-21
I think it’s been pointed out on an annual basis, that the majority of those against supplemental feeding, are those in states that it is illegal.

08-Jan-21
Actually, many who are against feeding are private land bait plotters. They do not want the public land hunter and private land non hunters competing with their private deer food heaven.

From: lawdy
08-Jan-21
I plant a big garden and leave several rows of turnips and I have a few crabapple trees that hold apples almost all winter. I also cut trees down for firewood and leave them for the deer to browse on. They also like the blue Hubbard squash I leave after I harvest what we need.

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