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

MLF Pros: What

MLF Pros: What's Your Go-To Lure?

When all else fails, here's what these pros tie on.

Lowrance Enters Trolling-Motor Market with Ghost

Lowrance Enters Trolling-Motor Market with Ghost

Lowrance's Lucas Steward shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead what all of the fuss is about in the brand new Ghost trolling motor being brought to market by the Tulsa, Okla.-based fishing equipment manufacturer.

New Optimum and Optimum TS Downriggers from Canon

New Optimum and Optimum TS Downriggers from Canon

From rugged reliability to smooth integration of cutting edge technology across several different platforms, OSG's Lynn Burkhead learns that there's much to like about the new Optimum and Optimum TS downriggers from Canon.

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.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish. Records

Upon Further Review: 70-Year-Old Catfish Record Voided

G&F Online Staff - May 22, 2019

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish.

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews of smelly ingredients often used to catch catfish. Catfish

How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait

Keith Sutton - August 04, 2015

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews...

Here are the 10 most common reel performance problems and how to fix them. Reels

10 Most Common Reel Performance Problems

Anietra Hamper

Here are the 10 most common reel performance problems and how to fix them.

 Veteran bass anglers often dismiss urban fishing opportunities as Bass

Bass Pond Fishing: Catch Lunkers at Small Lakes Near You

Dan Anderson - February 13, 2018

Veteran bass anglers often dismiss urban fishing opportunities as "kid's fishing ponds," but...

See More Trending Articles

More Whitetail

Hunters have a love-hate relationship with deer decoys. Here's how to get the most out of your next setup. Whitetail

Whitetails: How to Deke a Bruiser

Bob Robb - November 25, 2019

Hunters have a love-hate relationship with deer decoys. Here's how to get the most out of your...

Most hunters shoot better at targets than at deer. The right practice can solve that problem. Whitetail

Pick a Hair: How to Practice for Perfect Deer Shots

Richard Mann - November 13, 2019

Most hunters shoot better at targets than at deer. The right practice can solve that problem.

Winter is here. Focus on these frozen food sources to improve your chances of scoring a giant buck. Whitetail

Focus on Frozen Food for Winter Deer

Bob Robb - December 27, 2019

Winter is here. Focus on these frozen food sources to improve your chances of scoring a giant...

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.

See More Whitetail

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

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