Feeding Deer At Bait Sites

Andy W. from Virginia writes to ask whether feed at bait sites just attracts deer, or does it actually "feed" deer. "We have bait stations on our hunting lease in South Carolina. Actually there are quite a few bait stations there and they seem to get heavy use. If habitat is not the best, do such bait sites allow us to support more deer on the area?"

Dr. Dave Samuel

It turns out that for the coastal area of South Carolina hunt clubs have bait sites about every 420 yards. Since a deer has a home range of about one square mile, this means that one deer will overlap around five of these bait sites. If a deer gets half of its diet from the bait sites, this means that you might be supporting 70 deer per square mile for about half a year. Of course, this can vary depending on what you put at the bait site. 

In the research I looked at they used corn. So, based on that, you can indeed affect the number of deer using your area by placing feed. But a better option by far is to plant food plots. That is the very best thing you can do habitat-wise, to improve the quality of your deer.

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Dr. Dave writes a weekly column for sportsmansguide.com. If you have a question for Dr. Dave, e-mail your question to Dr. Dave in care of Tom Kacheroski, senior editor of www.sportsmansguide.com‘s content at tkachero@sportsmansguide.com. Dr. Dave studied deer for 30 years as a wildlife management professor at West Virginia University. In addition he has been a bowhunter for over 40 years, with deer being his main prey. He’s also an outdoor writer and has been with “Bowhunter” magazine for 31 years.

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