Rice Bran for Hunting, Attracting Deer

Rice Bran as a Deer Attractant & Supplement for Deer Hunting & Management

Rice Bran as a Deer Attractant & Supplement for Deer Hunting & Management

Question: “What’s the deal with rice bran? I hunt on 40 acres in Northeast Texas with heavy deer hunting pressure on all sides and I usually just throw corn on the ground to attract deer. I am very low budget and cannot afford the feeding of minerals and protein pellets. I have tried salt blocks, livestock blocks and wildlife blocks. The deer in my area seem to like flavored rice bran like apple or peanut butter but it is hard to find. Does rice bran have any nutritional value to deer? Any suggestions and recommendations on how to attract deer in this situation would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.”

Response: Stabilized rice bran is a common ingredient used in many commercial feeds for whitetail deer. Many of the products that contain rice bran in high percentage are better described as deer baits or attractants. For example, it is the main ingredient in the commercial deer attractant “Buck Bran” which is produced by Wildgame Innovations and “Buck Grub” that is sold by Evolved Habitats. Rice bran can also found in lower quantities in truly supplemental feeds (protein pellets). In short, rice bran is a good source of easily digested vegetable fat, but that is about it. Continue reading “Rice Bran for Hunting, Attracting Deer”

Supplemental Feeding of Deer: Protein Pellets

Whitetail Deer Management: Supplemental Feeding of Deer Protein Pellets

It’s summer time in Texas and hot, dry weather is wreaking havoc on white-tailed deer habitat. That means deer will be hitting supplemental feed sources where they are available harder than ever. In fact, I’ve already heard from numerous hunters and landowners that whitetail are really hammering protein feeders, and this is on properties that provide relatively good deer habitat. Unfortunately, it looks like things are going to get worse before they get better. That has got everyone, deer included, feeling a little uneasy.

It’s the antler growing season for bucks right now, so that means game cameras have already been deployed. Reports indicate that the majority of bucks have anywhere from 3-10 inches of antler growth and that there are still a good number of does that have yet to domino (give birth). Guys in the pastures as well as camera photos are also seeing a good number of fawns already on the ground. Everyone is aware that natural foods are low, but deer are needing a lot of high quality nutrition right now.

Whitetail Deer Management: Supplemental Feeding of Deer Protein Pellets

If ever there was a time to supplement deer with free-choice protein pellets, that time would be now. Not only will deer manager after deer manager tell you first-hand what the addition of protein pellets has done for whitetail deer found on their properties, but respectable research from many different camps has found that protein pellets (16+%)  really do make a difference for white-tailed deer in a number of ways.

There are many reasons to feed protein pellets, with the most cited one being increased antler growth for bucks. Other positives of this form of supplemental feeding include improved body condition in all deer, which translates into more milk production for lactating does and better muscle and skeletal growth for fawns later into the summer. Deer, both bucks and does, that get a good start the first year of their life will be superior animals down the road.

With natural foods on hold (at best) and deer nutritional requirements on the rise, feeding protein to deer seems like the thing to do right now, but there can also be some issues that arise that come along with the management practice. The first one that comes to mind is, well, cost. Let’s face it, the price tag of the feed alone can get expensive, but then there are also transport and labor costs.

With a white-tailed deer density that is appropriate for the habitat, a general rule of thumb is to estimate average consumption at about 3/4 pound of feed per day per deer day over the course of a year (even though the majority of properties do not provide pellets during October, November, and December). This number varies depending on the rainfall each year and the amount of natural forage deer eat, but averages out to about 275 pounds of protein pellets for each deer on an annual basis. That’s about $55 in feed. How many deer are found on your property?

Another issue that arises with the supplemental feeding of protein pellets to whitetail deer is increased reproduction, as in higher fawn survival. Now, this many not sound like much of a negative, but it really can be depending on the deer management objectives of a landowner or hunter. This phenomenon is something many well-intending managers do not realize until several years into their management program. I will focus more on this topic in the near future, but until then let’s keep an eye out for those whitetail fawns, bucks in velvet and maybe even a rain cloud?

Conditioning Deer to Eat New Foods

Whitetail Deer Management: Conditioning Deer to Eat New Foods

The new year is well underway and spring is just around the corner. That is a good thing because habitat conditions are as tough as I’ve seen them in some time and bitter cold weather really works on a white-tailed deer’s body condition. But a new year means resolutions to do new things—even when it comes to deer management. Though the supplementation of a deer’s diet is far from a new idea, I am confident that many landowners and managers will begin offering supplemental feed during late winter, spring and summer for the first time ever.

Most of that feed will be in the form of protein pellets. Regular readers of this site know that food supplementation is just a small part of an overall deer management program, but it can be an important component for maintaining and increasing the overall condition of the deer herd found on a property. This is especially true during the food stress periods that occur each year, summer and winter. Right now is as good of time as any to start, but I recommend following the simple suggestions below when beginning a supplemental feeding program for white-tailed deer. Continue reading “Conditioning Deer to Eat New Foods”

Supplemental Feeding in Perspective

Deer Management Techniques: Supplemental Feeding in Perspective

Hunters and landowners actively involved in white-tailed deer management know that age, genetics, and nutrition are the rule when it comes to maintaining a healthy deer herd and consistently producing quality whitetail bucks. Because it takes time for bucks to get older and because one can not change the genetics of a deer once it is conceived, a lot of attention gets placed on deer nutrition by hunters and managers on their lands.

When it comes to providing proper nutrition for deer, more than a fair share of this attention gets wrongly placed on supplemental feeding through food plots or protein pellets. I will be the first to tell you that both food plots and supplemental feeding have their place on almost every property, but all too often hunters consider the management practice of adding food to the equation as taking the place of proper deer habitat management. Wrong. Continue reading “Supplemental Feeding in Perspective”

Winter Tough on White-tailed Deer

This whitetail buck is going strong in late winter.

As the snow falls today in Central Texas, I can’t help but think about the white-tailed deer throughout the country. I’m not just talking about the animals living right outside my door, but everywhere throughout the whitetail’s range. This is the time of year when habitat conditions are tough and when the nuts and bolts of deer population management are tested. After all, the white-tailed deer hunting seasons are over and the remaining deer are carryover, the core herd of the upcoming hunting season.

At the heart of deer population management is food availability. With late winter upon us, even though spring is just around the corner, white-tailed deer food is scarce over the landscape. Late winter is the most nutritionally stressful time of the year for a deer. At this point in time, the deer herd on every ranch should be at or below its base population size—the maximum number of animals that the habitat can support. Otherwise, the deer herd is at risk of a die-off from being malnurished due to inadequate food resources. Continue reading “Winter Tough on White-tailed Deer”