Feeders vs. Food Plots

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

Food plots out-perform corn feeders for deer

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.

Recommended for You

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.

Memorial Day sale offers 15 percent off everything website-wide. Coolers

Get Ready for Summer with Cordova Coolers

May 23, 2019

Memorial Day sale offers 15 percent off everything website-wide.

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies. Panfish

Find and Fish Bluegill Beds Efficiently

Terry Madewell - May 22, 2019

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Mustad Skatter Shad Bladed Jig

Mustad Skatter Shad Bladed Jig

As Mustad continues to expand into an all-around tackle company, Reid McKinstry shows off some innovative features that make the Mustad Skatter Shad bladed jig a winner in big bass waters.

Berkley

Berkley's Surge Shad

Major League Fishing pro Scott Suggs has relied on the Berkley Surge Shad lure concept for years, using similar designs to capture MLF titles and a $1 million dollar FLW Forrest Cup win. With new features in the Surge Shad, Suggs tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead that even he can find success out on the water!

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 Stories

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.

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some strategies. Catfish

Understanding Catfish Spawning

Keith Sutton - June 06, 2006

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some...

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies. Panfish

Find and Fish Bluegill Beds Efficiently

Terry Madewell - May 22, 2019

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies.

See More Stories

More Whitetail

Deadline is approaching for Thiessens Guided Hunt Giveaway. Whitetail

5-Day Guided Hunt Top Prize of Giveaway

September 12, 2019

Deadline is approaching for Thiessens Guided Hunt Giveaway.

The efficient and economical all-in-one Firminator G3. Whitetail

Food Plots: Turn the Soil and More

The efficient and economical all-in-one Firminator G3.

Taking deer in the early season requires specific tactics to overcome challenges that heat and humidity create. Try these tactics for hot-weather hunts. Whitetail

How to Beat the Heat for Early Season Deer

Terry Madewell - September 23, 2019

Taking deer in the early season requires specific tactics to overcome challenges that heat and...

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.

×