Skip to main content

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

Portable Hornady Rapid Safes - Security on the Water

Portable Hornady Rapid Safes - Security on the Water

Hornady Security has a new line of portable safes with applications for anglers who want to have a firearm on board their boats, just in case.

Yakgear Basic Kayak Angler & Deluxe Anchor Trolley Kits

Yakgear Basic Kayak Angler & Deluxe Anchor Trolley Kits

New products from ICAST 2020 included the Yakgear Basic Kayak Angler and Deluxe Anchor Trolley kits. Bill Bragman highlights the features of each kit.

RIO Slickcast Fly Lines

RIO Slickcast Fly Lines

Chris Walker, with RIO Products, talks with Editor/Publisher Ross Purnell of Fly Fisherman magazine about the new SlickCast lineup of fly lines for 2020.

Hobie Pro Angler 14 With 360 drive

Hobie Pro Angler 14 With 360 drive

Human-powered serious fishing kayak; ICAST Fishing Gear Guide.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Here's how to get your rig ready for archery deer season.19 Ways to Get Your Crossbow, Compound Ready for Opening Day Bows

19 Ways to Get Your Crossbow, Compound Ready for Opening Day

Bob Robb - August 21, 2020

Here's how to get your rig ready for archery deer season.

Here are the 10 most common spinning and baitcaster reel performance problems and how to fix them.10 Most Common Reel Performance Problems Fishing How-To

10 Most Common Reel Performance Problems

Anietra Hamper

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

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. How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait 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...

Now's the time to finalize plans for the perfect deer season opener.10 Expert Deer Hunting Preparation Tips for Opening Day Whitetail

10 Expert Deer Hunting Preparation Tips for Opening Day

M.D. Johnson - August 26, 2020

Now's the time to finalize plans for the perfect deer season opener.

See More Trending Articles

More Whitetail

Here's how to get your rig ready for archery deer season.19 Ways to Get Your Crossbow, Compound Ready for Opening Day Bows

19 Ways to Get Your Crossbow, Compound Ready for Opening Day

Bob Robb - August 21, 2020

Here's how to get your rig ready for archery deer season.

Deer season is right around the corner. Here are 10 things you should start doing now to prepare for Opening Day.Your Countdown to Deer Hunting Season Whitetail

Your Countdown to Deer Hunting Season

Terry Madewell - August 12, 2020

Deer season is right around the corner. Here are 10 things you should start doing now to...

Here's a look at recent cases conservation officers faced in the field all across the nation.Game Warden Stories: Antler Poachers, Naked Wanted Man, Secret-Note Tip Conservation & Politics

Game Warden Stories: Antler Poachers, Naked Wanted Man, Secret-Note Tip

Game & Fish Staff - June 26, 2020

Here's a look at recent cases conservation officers faced in the field all across the nation.

Make these four easy cuts to complete the deer field-dressing process in minutes.Fastest Way: 4 Steps to Field-Dress a Deer Hunting How-To

Fastest Way: 4 Steps to Field-Dress a Deer

Patrick Durkin - September 30, 2020

Make these four easy cuts to complete the deer field-dressing process in minutes.

See More Whitetail

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

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

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now