No, we are not talking about a poorly placed shot here, but rather literally feeding to every buck’s primary need — food. Summer is a serious stress period for white-tailed deer. With that said, quality food is hard to find in many parts of the country right now, unless your area has been blessed with summer and late summer rainfall.
So, what do deer eat and how can you capitalize on hungry deer? Yes, yes, you know the answer is providing food, but you have two choices at this point. Do you wish to bait or actually provide supplemental feed the deer in your area? There is a difference and I’ve talked about baiting versus supplementing before. For those that are ate up with keeping deer in prime condition, most provide supplemental food year round through either food plots or free-choice protein.
Both of these options are fine, most deer managers even use them in combination, and they are ideal ways to promote the highest deer body conditions and support maximum antler growth, but what about some of the lease hunters or individuals that can not afford to provide supplementation throughout the year?
From a pure baiting strategy, spin-cast feeders are obviously the way to go — and now is the best time to set up shop. Deer at southern latitudes are highly stressed during late summer and early fall so setting up a timed feeder will bring in deer. Baiting will help you get your buck through either of the two following ways.
Option number one is that a dominant buck in the area will dominate your feeder and run off all would-be competitors, leaving all the bait (corn) for himself. Option two is when does in the area find your feeder and start frequenting the bait. This works because when the rut starts bucks go to where their are does — and if the does are accustomed to swinging by the feeder, the bucks will follow.
It’s not a guarantee, because hunters will still need to be set up correctly, well-hidden, and scent free to ensure that deer don’t bust them before getting into the area. Oh, and the best time to have your spin-cast feeders go off is about 30 minutes before sunrise and about 1 hour before sunset.
I know that feeders can not be legally used in all all areas, but food plots can. This is why food plots are more important in northern states than southern states and why we see so many food plot commercials on our beloved hunting channels. Food plots will bring in the big boy or bring in the girls and then the big boy will follow.
Of course, one benefit spin-cast feeders have over food plots is that deer can only eat when the bait is dispensed (but that does not necessarily mean they will come). On the flip side, successfully growing food plots allow white-tailed deer to eat anytime and that’s bad for the hunter, but good for the deer! To help get your trophy, think feeder or food plot based on your location, the soil types found in your area, the amount of time that you have, and your state’s baiting regulations. The time to act is now!