LITTLE ROCK (AGFC) – 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.
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 explained.
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 noted.
"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."
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
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," he
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.
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.