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fairchaser

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Sep 13, 2011
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TN, USA
From my research, which is limited, yes it’s a waste of time for antler growth. There are more than enough nutrients in natural deer browse to meet all the nutritional needs of deer to grow antlers. There are plenty of other reasons for feeders such as data collection, pictures, creating habits, etc. however. Food plots might be a better tool for these other things though.
 
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JCDEERMAN

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Jul 19, 2008
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NASHVILLE, TN
I concur with fairchaser and Andy. The only thing we put out is salt, and that is only for camera consensus in late summer. However, we are thinking about putting an end to that due to CWD approaching surrounding counties.
 

BSK

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Joined
Mar 11, 1999
Messages
68,124
Location
Nashville, TN
Through supplemental feeding, is it possible to improve herd health over the winter months enough to improve body and antler growth in spring/summer? Probably. But the question is "how much improvement" and "at what cost." I've seen programs spend tens of thousands of dollars on supplemental feeding. Did it help? Probably. But hard data analyses suggests the improvement was minimal. Perhaps a few inches in average antler growth and maybe 10 pounds body weight. But again, at what financial cost? And there are some real biological and behavioral risks to having deer rely on supplemental feed.
 

TheLBLman

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Jun 12, 2002
Messages
28,272
Location
Knoxville-Dover-Union City, TN
And there are some real biological and behavioral risks to having deer rely on supplemental feed.
While most may be thinking, oh, he's talking about a higher risk of my deer catching some disease, one of the biggest risks actually may be increased predation, particularly on younger deer, particularly on button bucks.

I really believe most hunters are clueless as to just how effective bobcats can be at killing fawns, and a feeding station is a "hunting paradise" for a bobcat to lay in wait nearby. Seldom will you find the evidence of its kills (regarding fawns). While Momma Doe is "feeding", baby fawn nearby is just grabbed and carried away by Mr. Bobcat.
 

BSK

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Joined
Mar 11, 1999
Messages
68,124
Location
Nashville, TN
The litany of possible biological and behavioral problems associated with supplemental feeding will nearly fill a book. Somewhere I've got a copy of a publication that is a compendium of all of the positives and negatives research biologists have documented from supplemental feeding. The positives fill a short chapter. The negatives fill quite a few lengthy chapters, and include increased predation, habitat destruction near the feeding stations, disease transmission and some pretty troubling changes in animal behavior and social dynamics.
 
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megalomaniac

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Oct 28, 2005
Messages
9,378
Location
Mississippi
Spend your $$$ improving habitat. If you don't want to do that, thin out the herd next year if you have significant browse lines right now. Supplemental feeding is a waste of money unless your local herd is on the verge of absolute starvation.
 

JCDEERMAN

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Jul 19, 2008
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11,823
Location
NASHVILLE, TN
New video from Dr. Grant Woods discussing supplemental feeding in harsh conditions (and a few other aspects):

 

MickThompson

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Joined
Aug 9, 2006
Messages
3,558
Location
Cookeville, Tennessee
Feeders are a big deal in south TX but you have to realize 2 things about S TX- 1) there is no limit to how much money Texans will spend on deer, and 2) the natural habitat down there is poor beyond what we could even imagine in TN
 

diamond hunter

Active Member
Joined
Sep 16, 2012
Messages
2,220
Location
Goodlettsville Tennessee USA
OK,so,I have a couple friends who mix all kinds of stuff to try and make their deer bigger,bigger antlers ect.Im taking yalls advice and staying the course.I have 70 acres on my farm that are tillable out of 10 fields or more,usually corn beans rotation.I usually raise 7 or more acres of foodplots myself,usually corn and winter rye,oats and turnips and a couple bag blends.I have 50 colonies of honeybees and clover is everywhere .The sanctuary inside when I go in mushroom hunting in April is beyond belief with deer sign.Im just trying to get to that 140-145"deer. Its a fun place to hunt,see many seer every sit,just not enough mature bucks. This year I hinge cut at least 5 acres of trash trees.I think Im doing everything right except the huntingn part. One problem I think i have on my 300 acres is there are too many fields and choices. This past season I saw one shooter to me buck,never winded me,never saw me,just cruised fast across the field medium trot looking straight ahead .never stopped,never looked.I cant shoot 250 yards at a moving target.Thanks for reading.
 

DoubleRidge

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Joined
Nov 24, 2019
Messages
2,572
Location
Middle Tennessee
New video from Dr. Grant Woods discussing supplemental feeding in harsh conditions (and a few other aspects):


Very interesting video with great explanations.....I'll be honest, during this recent storm I've questioned if the cedar management project we are looking at was the best approach?......but he put my mind to ease and explained it in a way that makes perfect sense.....the video also has me wanting to hit the woods shed hunting soon......very informative video....thanks for sharing.
 

DoubleRidge

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Joined
Nov 24, 2019
Messages
2,572
Location
Middle Tennessee
OK,so,I have a couple friends who mix all kinds of stuff to try and make their deer bigger,bigger antlers ect.Im taking yalls advice and staying the course.I have 70 acres on my farm that are tillable out of 10 fields or more,usually corn beans rotation.I usually raise 7 or more acres of foodplots myself,usually corn and winter rye,oats and turnips and a couple bag blends.I have 50 colonies of honeybees and clover is everywhere .The sanctuary inside when I go in mushroom hunting in April is beyond belief with deer sign.Im just trying to get to that 140-145"deer. Its a fun place to hunt,see many seer every sit,just not enough mature bucks. This year I hinge cut at least 5 acres of trash trees.I think Im doing everything right except the huntingn part. One problem I think i have on my 300 acres is there are too many fields and choices. This past season I saw one shooter to me buck,never winded me,never saw me,just cruised fast across the field medium trot looking straight ahead .never stopped,never looked.I cant shoot 250 yards at a moving target.Thanks for reading.

diamond hunter.....your place sounds awesome and sounds to me like your on the right track to improving your place....and after watching Dr Grants video on supplemental feeding that JC shared I have no doubt you made the right choice.....side note, not to get off topic, I've had a few old timers tell me a wet snowy winter is good for hunting shrooms in the spring...hope they are right! Looking forward to getting out there.....good luck on your habitat improvement projects.
 

fairchaser

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 13, 2011
Messages
6,708
Location
TN, USA
OK,so,I have a couple friends who mix all kinds of stuff to try and make their deer bigger,bigger antlers ect.Im taking yalls advice and staying the course.I have 70 acres on my farm that are tillable out of 10 fields or more,usually corn beans rotation.I usually raise 7 or more acres of foodplots myself,usually corn and winter rye,oats and turnips and a couple bag blends.I have 50 colonies of honeybees and clover is everywhere .The sanctuary inside when I go in mushroom hunting in April is beyond belief with deer sign.Im just trying to get to that 140-145"deer. Its a fun place to hunt,see many seer every sit,just not enough mature bucks. This year I hinge cut at least 5 acres of trash trees.I think Im doing everything right except the huntingn part. One problem I think i have on my 300 acres is there are too many fields and choices. This past season I saw one shooter to me buck,never winded me,never saw me,just cruised fast across the field medium trot looking straight ahead .never stopped,never looked.I cant shoot 250 yards at a moving target.Thanks for reading.
Seeing those quality bucks is a rare thing even when they are there in number. He likely doesn’t have his core area there but was in the hunt for a doe when you saw him. Keep improving the habitat and your hunting skills and one day it will all pay off.
 

DeerCamp

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Supporter
Joined
Jul 28, 2020
Messages
629
Is there any reason to put anything in a deer feeder such and trophy rack or any other deer feed ? Im trying to increase the antlers on the deer that eat out of my feeders.Is this a complete waste of time?
I recall reading a study that was comparing deer eating only natural forage vs deer being fed high protein supplemental feed.

What it showed was pretty simple:
1. The difference varies (a LOT) by year, mostly due to environmental factors. In years with good rainfall, good crops, no late frosts, the difference was minimal. In poor years, the difference was noticeable.

2. On average, the antler difference between natural vs pellet was about 5 inches B&C, with some outliers. I think this was bucks from the Delta, so probably applicable to here.

3. All of this was done in a controlled environment we simply can't replicate in the wild. Unless you own 1000's of acres and plan to spend 5 digits feeding, I don't expect you will see any difference.

That's not to say there is NO benefit - but at what cost(literally)? And what happens if you support carrying capacity and then stop suddenly? Are you increasing the chance of spreading disease? Are you making predation easier by concentrating deer?

My 2 cents - I'd take the money you would spend on supplemental feeding, use it to improve habitat and reap the benefits without having to refill feeders every other week :)
 

BSK

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 11, 1999
Messages
68,124
Location
Nashville, TN
New video from Dr. Grant Woods discussing supplemental feeding in harsh conditions (and a few other aspects):

I've always said, Grant is one of the best educators out there. I learned a lot from him.
 

DoubleRidge

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 24, 2019
Messages
2,572
Location
Middle Tennessee
I've always said, Grant is one of the best educators out there. I learned a lot from him.

And we learn allot from you.... appreciate the sharing of knowledge and experience on these type topics....great learning opportunities reading about what others have done...what works and what doesn't...thanks.
 

megalomaniac

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 28, 2005
Messages
9,378
Location
Mississippi
OK,so,I have a couple friends who mix all kinds of stuff to try and make their deer bigger,bigger antlers ect.Im taking yalls advice and staying the course.I have 70 acres on my farm that are tillable out of 10 fields or more,usually corn beans rotation.I usually raise 7 or more acres of foodplots myself,usually corn and winter rye,oats and turnips and a couple bag blends.I have 50 colonies of honeybees and clover is everywhere .The sanctuary inside when I go in mushroom hunting in April is beyond belief with deer sign.Im just trying to get to that 140-145"deer. Its a fun place to hunt,see many seer every sit,just not enough mature bucks. This year I hinge cut at least 5 acres of trash trees.I think Im doing everything right except the huntingn part. One problem I think i have on my 300 acres is there are too many fields and choices. This past season I saw one shooter to me buck,never winded me,never saw me,just cruised fast across the field medium trot looking straight ahead .never stopped,never looked.I cant shoot 250 yards at a moving target.Thanks for reading.
How many years has it been since you significantly increased available food through supplemental plantings and habitat improvement?

Remember, it takes a minimum of 4-5 years to really see a difference in antler scores from improving nutrition. You are hunting the button embryo inside her mother 5 years into the future. That prenatal nutrition to the embryo is probably the most important year of that bucks life when it comes to reaching their genetic potential.

8 or 9 years ago, we leased part of one of our farms out and it was converted from fescue fields to soybeans and corn. That farm had tons of mature bucks, but most wouldn't break 115in. I was expecting an overnight difference adding 200 acres of ag. Over the next several years, no significant improvement. But after about 6 years, the difference was amazing. We have taken a 136" 7 pt and a 148" 9pt off it in the last 3 years. The biggest bucks we've ever shot on this farm by far.

So don't give up, it takes TIME, and lots of it to see the fruits of your labor improving habitat.
 

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