Supplemental Feeding, Deer Browse

Earl S. from Texas asks about supplemental feeding and deer browse. “I use supplemental feed at feeders on my hunting area all year-round. Does this extra feed allow me to carry more deer on the area, above what natural vegetation can support, without doing damage to native browse?”


Dr. Dave Samuel

Good question, Earl. There are two points to consider here. First, does the feeder attract more deer to this small area, and next, when they are not eating at the feeder, do they over browse the habitat near the feeder? Let me answer this before moving own. It appears that indeed there is some damage to plants near feeders.

Now to your question. New research shows that supplemental feed does not impact vegetation in the area from deer. Deer eat the vegetation to the same degree with or without supplemental feed. And if deer numbers are high, even with feed, the habitat can be hurt.

For a selection of food plot seed, click here.

For a fine selection of Big Game Hunting gear, click here.

If you have a deer 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’s 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 over 30 years.

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4 Responses to “Supplemental Feeding, Deer Browse”

  1. art russo

    i hunt in a club in n.j. we have 4 great farms to hunr deer . my question why is it that i sit all day don’t see anything my location i great . I’m backed up to wood my ground is down 1/4 mile in a refine with corn fields on both sides and a small stream behind me . i also have a fawn and a doe decoy out the life like 3d one .

    Reply
    • Tom Kacheroski

      Tom Kacheroski

      Hi Art … here’s a reply from Dr. Dave Samuel:

      Art, I’m not familiar with the exact area you are hunting, but here are some thoughts on your question. First, getting to and exiting from your stand is critical relative to odor. If you can utilize that stream to enter your stand, that helps. If not, be very careful in selecting the pathway to the stand.

      Second, never hunt the stand when the wind is wrong. You probably know where you can see deer from your stand. If the wind is blowing in that direction, or even close to that direction, hunt another location.

      Third, do not overhunt a stand. Many big bucks are taken the very first time a new stand is sat. Fourth, maybe you are in the wrong place. Find the thickest, nastiest, habitat on your farms and hunt close to them or even inside the edge of them. Deer bed in those nasty places, so you need to be close. I hope this helps you become successful.

      Dr. Dave Samuel

      Reply
  2. art russo

    i hunt with a club in n.j. i have my ground blind tucked in a corner surrounded by two cornfields back to back a little stream thats behind my blind also woods to the right of my blind. i have a fawn and a doe 3-d decoy out there are tracks but i ve been out 10 times and seen nothing but last year i had a good season from that blind what do you think is the problem

    Reply
    • Tom Kacheroski

      Tom Kacheroski

      Art, I’m not familiar with the exact area you are hunting, but here are some thoughts on your question. First, getting to and exiting from your stand is critical relative to odor. If you can utilize that stream to enter your stand, that helps. If not, be very careful in selecting the pathway to the stand. Second, never hunt the stand when the wind is wrong. You probably know where you can see deer from your stand. If the wind is blowing in that direction, or even close to that direction, hunt another location. Third, do not overhunt a stand. Many big bucks are taken the very first time a new stand is sat. Fourth, maybe you are in the wrong place. Find the thickest, nastiest, habitat on your farms and hunt close to them or even inside the edge of them. Deer bed in those nasty places, so you need to be close. I hope this helps you become successful.
      Dr. Dave Samuel

      Reply