September and October: The Important Feeding Months

If you have ever experienced a harsh northern winter, you know the devastating effect it can have on deer populations. Heavy snowfall and cold temperatures make deer conserve energy by moving less, and in order to survive the worst winters, they rely heavily on fat reserves. Fat reserves are built mostly in September and October. If you give your deer high quality nutrition in September and October, they will be better able to build their fat reserves for the upcoming winter. Remember that during the rut in November, bucks do not eat as much, because they are busy chasing does.

If you wait until December and January to provide feed, you risk those bucks running themselves short of reserves before they even reach the mid-winter months. You might be reading this and saying: “Well, too bad I can’t feed during hunting season.” Some states that do not allow hunting over feed still allow you to feed, but you have to be a certain distance away from the feed site. Nebraska, for instance, has a rule that as long as you are 200 yards away from the feeding site, you can feed during the hunting season.

Here in Minnesota, you can feed deer during hunting season as long as you don’t hunt “near” the feed site. Each warden has their own definition of “near” so it’s best to consult your local warden before hunting the area. If you are in Illinois reading this, there isn’t much I can say other than you should contact your local representative and ask them to legalize supplemental feeding once again.

As for what type of feed to use, Supplement is the best feed for building fat reserves. It contains the right amount of fat and carbohydrates to maximize weight gain at this critical time of year. Mature bucks can easily lose 20% of their body weight during the rut, so that buck that is 200lbs in mid-October would be 160lbs by the beginning of December, and that is assuming he avoids getting injured. If you ever wonder how much feed to put out or what type of feeder you should use, check out the blog I wrote about those topics. Try to remember that deer use a dominance based hierarchy when it comes to feeding, so the dominant deer will get more feed if you only have one feed site. I like to have several feed locations, so that subordinate deer always have options. This also decreases social stress associated with deer fighting over limited feed options.

If you cannot afford to supplement your herd full-time, we also have some very powerful attractants that are also fully fortified deer rations. Have you noticed the incredible attraction power of Acorns? Acorns are low in protein, but high in fats and carbohydrates.

In September and October, deer need less protein and more fats/carbs in their diet in order to build their fat reserves. Our Braggin Rights® Acorn has a great balance of each and also has real Acorns in it. Why fight nature when they naturally seek out those food sources?!? You might ask, why would we put so much nutrition into an attractant? The answer is that even though they might not intake as much if we were feeding free-choice, every bit helps. The probiotics in our attractant help increase efficiency of the digestive system, so other food sources are better assimilated into building fat reserves. Just remember that if you want a healthy deer in the middle of winter, don’t overlook the early fall as an important timeframe to feed your herd.

-Tim Neuman, Wildlife Biologist 

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