In the last few years, we have witnessed a huge emphasis being placed on growing bigger bucks and harvesting mature deer. A lot of people have become firm believers in Quality Deer Management, and those that have been practicing it are seeing big results. Having a healthy deer herd and growing bigger bucks is important to most hunters and it goes beyond just killing a 4 1/2 yr old buck and filling your doe tags each year. A lot of hunters are starting to realize that their hunt doesn’t end when that last tag is filled, rather hunting is year round. Now, we know that you can’t actually hunt outside of the season, but people are doing things during all parts of the year to benefit their deer herds. One of those things is supplemental feeding during the antler growth period. Supplemental feeding has been around for a long time in South Texas but now it is becoming more widespread through out the country.
So, what are some of the benefits to supplemental feeding? It can provide much needed protein and nutrition to the deer herd after the tough winter months. Most deer use up a lot of their energy supplies just trying to stay alive during the winter. A deer herd needs protein well before most of the food sources become available for them in the spring. Also, bucks start growing their antlers very soon after they shed their previous set. The earlier they are provided protein and the more that is available to them, the better the chances are of them growing a much larger rack than the year before. Another great benefit of supplemental feeding is the nutrition that it can provide to pregnant and lactating does. Not only does it benefit the doe but the fawn as well. The nutrients can benefit the fawn while in the womb as well as through the milk that it ingests. All of these factors can lead to a stronger, healthier deer herd.
The benefits of supplemental feeding are great but there are some negatives as well. The first of which being the cost. Whitetail deer supplements are not cheap by any means. It is important to provide your herd with protein for a long period of time because it takes a while for a whitetails stomach to digest and use the protein to its best ability. Some bags of protein can cost up to $30.00 for a 20 pound bag of supplements. When you’re talking about have the proper amount of nutrition available for your herd for at least a few months, it can get pretty expensive. Another negative can be time. Not a lot of hunters have the time to be checking on protein feeders and mineral sites during the off season, especially if the properties that they hunt are far from where they live.
Supplemental feeding is an essential part of practicing quality deer management and helping your deer herd become as healthy as possible. Most hunters want a healthy deer herd and want their bucks to be able to grow to their full potential. The benefits and results can be really good but it does come with a price and can take up a lot of time. In the end, it is up to the hunter to weigh the pros and cons and determine what’s best for him and his herd.
Here are some popular companies that provide supplemental deer feed.
Are you using any deer supplements for your deer herd? Have they shown any proven results?