Every year deer hunters, biologists, and other wildlife enthusiasts place feeders in the woods and fields trying to get photos of animals that are otherwise illusive and aren’t keen on walking up for an interview. But of all the applications for feeders, there are probably more Feeders for Whitetail deer than all others combined, and the bulk of those are homemade deer feeders!
From Tripod deer feeders, to PVC deer feeders and gravity deer feeders the options and styles vary like the leaves on the trees! But one thing is for sure. In states where deer feeders are legal, the deer are well feed and get a boost of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that they would otherwise not get at all, or get in very small quantities ! Consequently, the deer in these areas tend to be healthier, have healthier fawns, and the bucks grow larger racks. In other words it’s a win for the deer and the enthusiast alike, whether hunter, biologist, or wildlife lover!
I will share with you my homemade and Frankenstein feeder ideas that work great !
The Best Deer Feeder
This might sound like an illusive answer, but the best deer feeder is the one you start with. Many people spend so much time trying to decide what the best feeder is that they get a case of paralysis by analysis and never get started on their feeding program.
If you start with the least expensive feeder you can find at WalMart in February, that’s great! If you have the funds to go all out and buy a high capacity feeder with a ladder, solar panels and all the bells and whistles, that’s great too! Just start the best you can. Whatever fits best in your budget and works for you is a great start!
I have one feeder that is very secluded. I never take an ATV or vehicle to the location because it’s in a small 4-5 acre sanctuary that doesn’t see any hunting or foot traffic unless I’m filling up the feeder. I put this feeder in that area because it is a high capacity, gravity fed feeder that hangs on a rope and pulley system. The plus is that it will easily hold 300 pounds of corn and pellet feed. The bad [part is that it will hold 300 pounds of feed! I have to fill it up!
It takes 3-4 hikes into the woods to get the feed to the feeder and then winching it back up with those pulleys is a chore!
My other feeders are much simpler and easier to tend, but the results from this big old gravity feeder far out perform the others ! In fact, I am considering adding another of these same style feeders in the coming weeks. They work great and there is less time for the deer to get used to them, because they don’t sound like a machine gun when the timer times out like many of the “spin feeders”. Spin feeders are great once the wildlife gets used to them. But in the short term, don’t bother putting a camera on them !
The Best Homemade Deer Feeder!
I have had a long time love affair with the homemade PVC deer feeder!
You can realistically put 10 PVC feeders on your hunting property for the cost of 1 of the cheapest spin feeders, because they are made of PVC pipe and a couple of fittings! The PVC feeders also work on the gravity feed principle!
Like the gravity feeders they make no noise and the deer get accustomed to them very quickly! The only downside is that the PVC feeder output hole needs to be either on the ground or on the side of a tree. In either case Racoons and squirrels will rob you blind ! And if it is placed in contact with the ground, you can add turkeys and hogs to that list of bandits if you are in an area that those animals frequent!
Tripod Deer Feeders.
I have put many deer feeders in the woods and some of the best ones have been what I call my Frankenstein feeders!
I have a couple of tripod feeders that I use, but most of my tripod feeders are ones I bought used after the timer, motor or whatever quits working. These are usually the bargain-basement feeders and they never last! The best parts of them are the feed bin and the legs. And that has been the basis for most of my larger capacity feeders. In fact, the big feeder I was telling you about before was once a tripod feeder.
It pays to do some Frankenstein work !
I changed that feeder from a tripod to a gravity feeder by buying two pulleys and some rope at ACE hardware and getting a gravity feed tube setup for $39 at Academy Sports. Considering I paid $10 for the non-functioning feeder, $39 for the gravity feed system and $12 for the pulleys and rope it is a great deal!
I’m not saying that there isn’t great value in tripod feeders! Not at all! In fact there are many options in tripod feeders that are super well-built and have warranties. My issue is the super well-built ones with a warranty are also super awkward and heavy, not to mention expensive. And since they will never out perform my gravity feed setups, I don’t use them except in certain situations, because I don’t want to fool with changing the feed systems every year!
Another Great Budget Option Deer Feeder!
There is an option I use pretty often when I need to put out several feeders in a location and want to do it on a budget!
I went to Tractor supply a couple of years ago and purchased two strap on deer feeder bins. These little feeders will hold about 40 pounds of corn and feed, and they are cheap. These feeders that are made by Moultrie are inexpensive, easy to fill, easy to clean, and are now tied with PVC as my second pick for feeders, right behind the large capacity gravity feeder!
If I remember correctly, the feeders are only $19 each and will last pretty much forever because once again there are none of those moving, noisy parts!
Add to that the fact that these little feeders can be deployed quickly and they might take over second place all by themselves, but just slightly ahead of PVC feeders!
I would strongly recommend these feeders to anyone. If you are just getting started, or want to add a couple of extra feeders, they are ideal! The drawback is that if you have a sizable deer population, you will have to fill them up a couple of times per week.
Placing Deer Feeders.
Perhaps the most beneficial knowledge I can share with you is where to place your feeders.
We have all watched our favorite hunting shows where you see a guy sitting on a sendero or open field with a feeder in it. After a while you start seeing deer. More and more deer keep showing up, until finally that 180″ Booner walks up to the feeder and it’s lights out!
That’s great! But what selsdom if ever gets mentioned is the fact that the stand and feeder they are hunting may only be hunted 1 to 3 days a year. Add to that the controlled enviroment of human intrusion into the buck’s lair, and it equates to a story of almost fairy tale proportions for the average hunter like us!
My years of experience have shown that the more human traffic and human scent you place in the woods the less often mature bucks will show themselves, just like any other aspect of hunting. But even if you keep your scent to a minimum and stay downwind all it takes is a few gunshots, and that buck you have been hunting will associate that feeder with danger, and you will only see fleeting glimpses of him after dark!
My suggestion for you is to only place a feeder in front of a deer stand if you are hunting one special deer and don’t plan to harvest any other deer there.
If part of your goals for hunting season is harvesting does or smaller bucks for the freezer, that’s awesome! But I would do that from another stand or wait until you have harvested your buck. As you can see in the picture above I have a well positioned box stand looking at the area where one of my gravity feeders are located. But this stand gets hunted very little, and it’s referred to as “the buck stand”. It’s on the edge of my 4-5 acre sanctuary where my other gravity feeder is. I have gotten pictures of some really good deer there over the past few years. This might be the year to take a shot !
We have discussed several ideas that I used to build homemade deer feeders as well as re purpose old feeders. I told you about the great value of the little Moultrie feeders I purchased at Tractor Supply as well.
You don’t have to be rich or even have a budget of more than $10 to start with deer feeders ! They will provide the benefit of holding deer on your property, keeping them fed and healthy, and get the most potential from the racks in your bucks !
To be honest, raking back the leaves and pouring some corn and pellets on the ground is a great start!
So get out there and improve your hunting land with some feeders and mineral licks !
Thanks for reading ! If you have any questions please leave them in the comments below!
Have a great and blessed day!