Winter Feeding

Published on 17 February 2022 at 08:00

It’s February and most of the time here in Nebraska that means it’s cold, snowy and, for the most part, pretty harsh weather conditions. This year has been an exception. Let’s just say Mother Nature can't make up her mind. One day it’s blistering cold and the next it’s in the 50s and sunny. The only thing that’s been consistent, though, is there isn't much for food this time of year. This also happens to be the time of the year deer need the nutrients the most. Does are gestating fawns and bucks are still recovering from the harshness of the rut. The problem is there isn't much for nutritional forages out there. Everything that is out there is long dead with little to no nutritional value. If the deer are lucky, there may be a close-by corn field or soybean field that has some “leftovers” from harvest still out there but eventually that will run out, too.

Nowadays, hunters have become more aware of this and realize what it takes to make a deer herd fat and happy. If they can, they will plant a fall food plot that will give deer something to eat all winter. This is usually in the shape of either turnips and radishes or a fast growing winter pea. Unfortunately, I am not able to do this but what I can and have done in the past is put piles of corn throughout the timber and add some mineral to it.

This year, though, I just happened to be scrolling through amazon one day and found a feeder from Moultrie that straps to a tree and holds 8 gallons worth of feed in it. It was just what I needed so I purchased one and strapped it to a tree down at my timber this weekend. I came up with my own concoction for a deer feed for the winter that is basically a 50/50 blend of whole corn and a deer protein food that I got at our local farm supply store. Then I stuck a camera on it and will check it out over the next few weekends and see how it goes.

Now you're probably asking what my intent is with this. Well, I am not looking to grow monster bucks by pumping them full of garbage that will make 2 and 3 year old bucks that look like they had steroids pumped straight into their antlers. If you want a deer like that, go to one of those deer farms that raise a deer in a feedlot, you pick them from a book and a day before you go hunt them they release the deer into a fenced-in farm and you walk up to it and shoot it.  That's not what I am doing. Does need nutrition for their fawns. A healthy doe that has a healthy fawn isn't going to lose it. A buck needs vitamins and minerals this time of year. They shed their antlers because their body has redirected the vitamins and minerals into its body to help make it through the winter when there isn't anything nutritional out there to eat. All I am doing is supplementing them with some good stuff to keep them alive through the winter until early summer when there is enough good greens out there for them to eat.

Once spring hits, I will start backing off on the amount of protein and maybe go from 50/50 to a 75/25 blend and then in June I may take the feeders down completely. The place I hunt just happens to be a farm that I farm with my uncle and the crop rotation this year will be soybeans, so there will be more than plenty of protein out there in the late summer. I am not looking to bait these deer. Baiting is illegal in Nebraska. All I want to do is make sure the deer are fat, happy, and healthy because when that happens, they stay in the neighborhood and that is what I am trying to accomplish.  Happy hunting!


Add comment


There are no comments yet.