Feeding a Buck onto a New Home Range

Winter is a great time to find new bucks on your property. As natural food sources begin to diminish, bucks tend to search for food outside of their normal home range. If a buck finds a new consistent food source, chances are good that he will set up a new home range. You never know when that buck you have never seen before will make the reconnaissance mission looking for food, so keeping feed available all the time will ensure the new buck will like your property when he finds it. Sometimes the buck will only stay as long as the food is there, so the longer you can provide food into the winter, the better your chances are of holding that buck on your property.

Anywhere you have food, you have a better chance of finding sheds of the bucks utilizing that food source. This time of year, the deer get back to a consistent pattern of bedding in some sort of thermal cover, and feeding nearby. That is why is critical if you are hunting this pattern to have an easy access tree stand or blind that you can get to without spooking deer on your way in or out. When the temperatures plummet, deer have a sense of urgency to increase their fat levels and find energy to get them through the winter. The deer that need food the most are the fawns, which is why they are typically the first ones out on the field. They have a much higher metabolism compared to a mature buck, which is also why they have to eat more often.

If you want to supplement your herd’s diet for the winter, a timed spin feeder is a great option. It controls the amount of feed you put out which allows your feed to last longer. We have a version of Ani-Supplement GOLD™ called “SPIN”, where the fines are pelletized so it doesn’t clog up a spin feeder. It can also be used on the ground or in a gravity feeder (see above). If you have access to whole corn, we have an option called JAC™ SPIN which stands for “Just Add Corn” in a SPIN version. It is basically the same ingredients as Ani-Supplement GOLD™, but you add your own corn at a ratio of 2 parts corn to 1 part JAC™. A lot of people feed just corn to deer in the winter, but that is not only poor nutrition, it’s potentially dangerous. When deer only eat just corn, their stomach can become too acidic from the grain fermenting. This is known as rumen acidosis or grain overload. We have a way to combat this by using probiotics which aid the deer in the digestion process. These probiotics can break down corn faster, making it healthier for deer to consume in winter, and these are included in all of our feeds.

These pictures show the difference between Ani-Supplement GOLD™ SPIN (top) and JAC™ SPIN (bottom). If you have access to corn, JAC™ SPIN can been an economical way to make your own Ani-Supplement GOLD™ SPIN, you simply have to mix it with corn.

 

The great part about this time of year is that you can pick up deer on your property that have been living miles away during the fall. Trails leading to feed sources will help nomadic bucks find what every other deer in that area have already been eating. Not every buck you pick up during late season will set up shop on your property, but chances are good that bucks that socialize during the winter months will remain together in a cohesive bachelor group through the following summer. The more time a buck spends on a property, the more comfortable he becomes. In some cases, you can determine the winter range shift of a buck from previous years and use that knowledge to kill him during the late season. Our pro-staffer Cody Sirek did just that with a buck he called “Ice Man”. That buck would only show up on his property after the rut, so Cody used that intel to put him down with his muzzleloader just a few days ago. He came into one of Cody’s food plots and the rest is history. He ended up scoring 138 inches. Hopefully you can pick up some new bucks using feed on your property. This time of year each card pull is like Christmas morning, you never know what buck will show up!

 

– Tim Neuman, Wildlife Biologist 

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