What to Feed Deer: An Ultimate Guide to Baiting and Feeding Deer Through a Year

To bait deer for hunting, one of the most popular ways is feeding them. However, it’s not as easy as you show the food materials and they will automatically go and eat them. Deer is a smart and always alert to the surroundings, especially human. Thus, to bait them successfully, you know learn some basic techniques. In this article, I will share you my experience in what to feed deer and how to feed them.



Image source: Iconfinder

Feeding deer nor for hunting is always legal. However, on the contrary, before you start to feed and bait deer for hunting purpose, know the baiting rules clearly firstly. As there are some countries or areas don’t allow you to use that method to hunt deer.

For example, in Michigan, the baiting rules are that they permit you to use minerals, vegetables, grains, hay, salt, fruits and many other food materials to bait deer. And baiting deer must occur from 15th September to 1st January with the volume should not be over 2 gallons.

On the contrary, in some countries like Montmorency, Shiawassee, Alpena, Eaton, etc., it’s illegal.

What to feed deer

After making sure that the areas you intend to feed deer for hunting are legal, start learning how to bait and feed them.

There is a rule of thumb which is that each particular will require different kinds of food. If you don’t equip yourself some basic information about deer habitat or digestion problems, not only you can’t get anything from the hunt but also maybe make them sick to die. To maximize the chance of successfulness, keep in mind the below advice:

From late winter to early spring

Remember that in different time of the year and in different areas, the food materials for deer will be different. For example, in the fall, all deer stop eating grains so if you feed them with corn in such time, they will get some digestion issues.

However, with deer in the Midwest or agriculture places, it doesn’t matter at all if you feed them in around February.

If you are a newbie and this is the very first year you start introducing supplement feed, my advice is to wait until spring when the stomach of deer get back to the old microorganisms to handle it. Then, in the next year, after deer are accustomed to that habit, you can feed them through a year.

From late winter to early spring

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Choosing the kind of food materials and when to feed deer also depends on your experience, knowledge of deer herb as well as their diet.

From mid-spring to late summer

At this time, deer, especially bucks need a huge source of nutrition to grow so that you should fill the deer feeder with high-protein and mineral food materials. Depending on the particular conditions, you need to use suitable percentage to fill the feeders.

For instance, based on different brands, pellets will contain around 16-22% protein. On sunny days or hot seasons, deer won’t eat many pellets with too-high protein percentage or leafy greens because they can cause digestion issues. However,  if the summer isn’t dried much and still has rainfall, such pellets are okay.

To attract deer more effectively, you can mix pellets or protein with corn. As summer is going on, you can ease your mind with feeding deer with corn. Apart from high protein food materials, don’t forget to provide them with minerals.

From mid-spring to late summer

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From early fall to mid-winter

In such period of time, deer tend to find some particular kinds of food to level up fat reserves to save them from winter or colder months. There are many ways to feed them like using mast crops, food plots or acorns. One thing you should keep in mind is to make sure there are still some supplements during and after the rut to minimize deer losing weight.

Here are some mixtures you can consult to feed deer:

  • Rice bran to add fat: 50 pounds
  • Corn for Carbohydrates: 100 pounds
  • Pellets with high quality protein: 50 pounds

To take advantage of the protein, you can grow fawns.

Choose the best deer feeder

Deer feeders also play an important role in baiting deer successfully. By using them, you can totally grow as well as manage the deer herb more easily.

In terms of deer feeders, there are some features you should keep in mind. They are the handiness, legs, ease of use, styles, etc.

Apart from choosing the best deer feeder, you should plan a feeding program based on your knowledge and information about the habitat of the deer herb you tend to hunt like favorite food materials, digestion and eating habits.

I have tested many kinds of feeder coming from different brands and in various types to make a decision which one is the best. And here is the result.

Choose the best deer feeder

Image source: Steel Outdoor

Sum up, there are three basic things on what to feed deer successfully. They are the baiting and feeding rules for deer hunting, time to feed them to choose suitable food materials and selecting a good feeder. I have researched, analysised and arranged them in order of decreasing importance so that you can follow easily. Hope that through this article, I have given you some helpful information to maximize the chance of succeeding.