Feeders vs. Food Plots

Food plots out-perform corn feeders for deer

Feeders vs. Food Plots
Corn feeders are prevalent but food plots are better for the deer. (Mike Suchan photo)

LITTLE ROCK – Like elevated stands, corn feeders are now prevalent in Arkansas deer hunting.There is a better way, according to wildlife biologists with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission – food plots with a variety of plantings.

Ralph Meeker, AGFC’s assistant deer program coordinator, says hunters can more effectively improve nutrition (for deer) by planting stuff in the ground instead of pouring it out of a bag.

“One factor is that an assortment of plantings can provide supplemental food for deer virtually year round. Feeders with supplemental feed or corn can be used all year as well, but this approach isn’t near as nutritional or cost effective,” he said.

Another downside to using feeders is that they are not a natural option for deer that are out looking for food. Deer are selective feeders, not livestock. Deer take a few bites here, move on and take some more bites there.


“The average deer eats about seven pounds of food a day, but deer don’t stand and eat all seven pounds at a feeder,” Meeker said. “Nearly 75 percent of their diet is still dependent on vegetation. As a result, the vegetation they eat makes much more of an impact on their nutrition than what they receive from a feeder.”


Other downsides to feeders are that they attract several other unwanted wildlife species, such as raccoons, feral hogs, coyotes and bobcats. Also, due to a feeder’s ability to concentrate wildlife, the likelihood of disease transmission also is increased. Add to that some corn may contain high levels of a toxic compound known as aflatoxin, which is produced by a fungus that infects grains grown under droughty, stressful conditions.

Deer feeding is popular, Meeker says.

“A 2011 survey of several Arkansas deer clubs showed that 89 percent of them fed deer and 96 percent of these used corn,” Meeker said. “The common perception is that feeders attract big bucks. Research has shown that baiting can actually decrease the chances of a hunter being able to successfully harvest a deer. This is because deer begin to visit feeders more at night rather during the day.”

With plantings in food plots, deer hunters and club managers can give deer a wide variety of high quality food sources ranging from soy beans and varieties of peas to clover and brassicas (turnip, kale and rape).


“As much as 10,000 pounds per acre with a protein content of more of 25 percent and at a cost of about 3 cents per acre,” Meeker said.

Meeker also strongly suggests that hunters should test their soil before planting a food plot. This will tell how much lime and fertilizer will be needed to get the most growth out of plantings. Soil samples can be taken to the local county extension office and a free analysis will be sent by mail in a couple of weeks.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Mustad

Mustad's Inkvader Octopus Live Jig

From big fish to small, just about any saltwater game fish out there will love the new Mustad Inkvader Octopus Live Jig that Mustad's Russ Whisler shows to OSG's Lynn Burkhead.

Abu Garcia Virtual Rod with Bluetooth

Abu Garcia Virtual Rod with Bluetooth

Pure Fishing's Andrew Wheeler tells Outdoor Sportsman Group writer Lynn Burkhead all about the brand new Abu Garcia Virtual rod that integrates Bluetooth technology through a free ANGLR smartphone app.

BPT Points Champ Edwin Evers Talks New Berkley Baits

BPT Points Champ Edwin Evers Talks New Berkley Baits

After making the switch to Berkley products heading into the inaugural BPT season, Edwin Evers tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead why Berkley baits played such a key role in his recent angling success.

13 Fishing Omen Black Baitcasting Rod

13 Fishing Omen Black Baitcasting Rod

Multiple time FLW Costa winner Jessi Mizell is no stranger to catching big Florida bass on a popping frog. As he tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead, with the new 13 Fishing Omen Black baitcasting rod, the job just got easier.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

From Monksville Reservoir to Union Lake, plus five other picks, here's where you'll find the Garden State's hottest bass fishing. Destinations

7 Best Bets for New Jersey Bass

J.B. Kasper - October 04, 2010

From Monksville Reservoir to Union Lake, plus five other picks, here's where you'll find the...

Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? There's more to successful long-range Ammo

10 Best Long-Range Cartridges Ever Made

David Hart - January 14, 2015

Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? There's more to successful long-range

While wildly popular amongst anglers around the world, the IGFA World Record book shows the biggest pike come from Europe. Records

Top 10 Biggest Pike World Records of All Time

Jack Vitek - August 19, 2015

While wildly popular amongst anglers around the world, the IGFA World Record book shows the...

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies can be profound, even when fishing the same lake or river. Catfish

How to Catch Catfish Day and Night

Terry Madewell - April 04, 2018

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies...

See More Trending Articles

More Whitetail

It's not over after the deer rut, and your best whitetail hunting may still be ahead. Whitetail

Make Late Season the Great Season

Mark Chesnut

It's not over after the deer rut, and your best whitetail hunting may still be ahead.

Master the hang-and-hunt strategy to unravel the deer rut. Whitetail

Field Skills: Go Mobile to Tag Rutting Bucks

Tony Peterson - November 22, 2019

Master the hang-and-hunt strategy to unravel the deer rut.

Can you pattern bucks during the rut? The answer is yes, and here's how. Hunting How-To

Order Out of Chaos: Patterning Rutting Bucks

David Johnson

Can you pattern bucks during the rut? The answer is yes, and here's how.

Here's a look at the regs and arguments about using bait while whitetail hunting. Whitetail

Baiting Deer Continues to Dwindle in Midwest

Patrick Durkin - December 11, 2019

Here's a look at the regs and arguments about using bait while whitetail hunting.

See More Whitetail

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.