In this blog series we're looking at concepts, practices, and approaches that can aid in managing game in a hunter's area. We've looked at food plots, selective harvest, deer surveying, herd balance, mineral sites already in this series and in this entry we'll look into the concept of "supplemental feeding".
Supplemental feeding of deer is not a brand new concept, but the trend is gaining momentum in game management circles. Outdoorsmen who invest a lot of time and resources in hunting and managing game usually provide some form of supplemental feed for their deer. If you've ever seen a deer who's benefited from supplemental feeding then you'll understand why game managers put in the time and effort to incorporate this practice into their game management strategy.
Supplemental feeds are typically high in protein and game managers put them out all year long. Like many other game management practices, it's not a "quick fix" and will take time before the full effects can be noticed. Supplemental feeding is generally part of a habitat management program and requires a long-term commitment on behalf of the game manager.
It?s also important to note that these supplemental feeds are intended to be exactly what they are called, a supplement. Supplemental feeds are not intended to replace a deer's natural diet, but rather to add to it. Supplemental feeding is also not a magic cure for poorly managed deer populations. It won't give you monster bucks or a healthy herd overnight.
While I was investigating this topic I found a lot of high-level, scientific research regarding supplemental feeds. If you're interested in getting really in-depth info about supplemental feeding of deer there are several scholarly articles on supplemental deer feeding available online. This blog entry however is not "scholarly" in nature ;-)
I found some really good info on supplemental feeding at a web site called "BuckManager.com". I encourage you to investigate that site for more information on supplemental feeding if you would like to read from someone who's lived and breathed it for a while. One of the articles on that site discussed the notion of whether deer could live on supplemental feed alone. The author noted
"Regardless of what the current study finds, both scenarios end up proving that deer cannot live on supplemental feed alone. Even when supplemental food is provided free-choice, white-tailed deer still desire native browse plants in their diets. Not only are these plants important for food, but also for the shelter and screening cover they provide for deer and other wildlife species. And let's not forget that browse plants typically contain protein levels ranging from 15 to 35%. And that can feed your deer and really supplement your supplement, for a lot less money."
The bottom line is that deer will consume more than just supplemental feed regardless of how much is provided! As the author noted "Food preference is probably a function of palatability, digestibility, and overall nutritive value." Incorporating supplemental feed as one more available food source for your herd is the best approach.
What blend, location, and ratios of supplemental feed are suggested for game managers? The article on BuckManager.com prescribed that "The preferred method is to use a 16% to 20% protein pelleted commercial feed, fed free choice, from feeders distributed at the rate of at least one feeder per 300 acres located within or adjacent to adequate escape cover." This recommendation is similar to what I found on other sites and articles so it's probably a good rule to go by.
Depending on the product you choose, supplemental feeding of deer can be one of the more expensive facets of game management. We've chosen to use a supplemental feed that was designed with a deer's overall health in mind and that is reasonably priced.
BUCK YUM was started to provide hunters with a quality feed and supplement product that not only attracted deer but also provided them with the proper nutrition deer need to grow. The idea to develop and implement a feed and supplement product that accomplished this was the inspiration of the launching of BUCK YUM Products and the creation of BUCKYUM.
BuckYum is a feed and attractant mixture of peanuts, peanut chips, and corn that provides the proper balance of nutritional supplements that deer need to grow. BuckYum also contains a special blend of seed that grows as a permanent food source as well. When you pour it out you can really smell the odor of peanut butter in the air (and the deer can too!). Deer and other game will browse on BuckYum and when you return be prepared to see some green growing from the ground where you poured it out! BuckYum is very efficient in this manner because not only does game in the area eat the corn & peanuts, but they also love the forage that grows from this blend as well. It's like a 2 for 1 deal!
BuckYum Guranteed Analysis
Where can you find BuckYum to buy? http://www.buckyum.com/Dealer_Info.php
Information in this post cited from the following locations:
There is no doubt that providing deer with a supplemental feed can be beneficial for hunters seeking to ?Grow the Hunt? and have monster bucks on their property. The only question is, are you committed?
Buck Yum Trophy Feed and Supplement Mixture
On an afternoon in late September, I pulled my truck into a nondescript warehouse in Waxhaw, NC. Waiting for me inside was my childhood friend Robert Burns, co-owner of Buck Yum. I hadn't seen Robert in at least a half-dozen years. The last time I saw him was over in our old neighborhood in Charlotte, which he was using as a base of operations for selling tree stands. Robert and I spent an hour or so catching up on the events of the past few years, telling each other about our families and reminiscing about some of the old times we had spent together hunting while we were growing up. I left his warehouse with a couple of hundred pounds of Buck Yum in the back of my truck.
The first time I used this new feed, I scattered a fifty pound bag around a small food plot on my lease, taking note of the extremely strong scent of peanuts that was present in the feed. After pouring it out, I quickly got in a box blind for the evening hunt. Before long, an extremely strong storm system passed through the area, and my food plot was soon a mass of mud and muck, and no deer appeared. The feed washed away in the rain, and I was extremely disappointed as I headed home - not in the product itself, but in the fact that I'd wasted fifty pounds of it.
The following weekend, I went back down to my club and used two more bags to fill up a pair of feeders that I had in different spots on the property. I chose to wait a week before hunting those stands. When I returned the following week, I was amazed at how different the ground around my feeder looked. Before Buck Yum, there had been some obvious signs of animals feeding, but the difference now was quite distinct. The ground around the feeder had been swept clean of pine needles, as you can see in the picture below. A week after that, there were green shoots coming up where some of the smaller elements of the feed had taken root and had sprouted, adding yet another reason for deer to come to the feeder.
My trail cameras showed a variety of deer coming to both feeders, and I knew that Buck Yum was a hit. Last week, I went to a stand that has not had a bit of Buck Yum near it all year, and I poured ten pounds out on the ground seventy yards from the feeder. Literally twenty minutes after I poured it out and got in my stand, a doe appeared and went directly to the feed. She started eating it, and within another five minutes she was dead on the ground, victim of my 7mm magnum. My experience with Buck Yum has been extremely positive, and I'll be replenishing my supply at the first opportunity. Congratulations to Robert Burns and Brad Hoover on an excellent product.
Garmin Montana 650 GPS
Over the last decade, I've owned a steady stream of Garmin GPS units. My first experience with Garmin's products was an iQueue 3600 Palm Pilot GPS unit, which did an extremely good job providing directions on the road, but it did not have any off-road maps available and was thus useless in the deer woods. I replaced it with a Garmin Colorado, which I liked quite well. The screen was extremely readable in broad daylight, and it was very accurate when it came to marking waypoints.
The unit's software was somewhat lacking, and when the Oregon product line came out, Garmin did not provide any firmware updates for the Colorado for quite some time. I liked my Colorado, but wanted some of the features of the Oregon, so I sold the Colorado on eBay and upgraded to an Oregon 400T. This was another great unit, and was well supported by the Garmin team. The main issue with it was that the screen was much harder to read in daylight.
When Garmin announced the Montana lineup, I sold my Oregon and ordered a Montana from the REI store up in Charlotte. It took a couple of months to arrive, but when it did, I had found the GPS that I was looking for. The unit has an extremely solid feel, and the large touch screen is easily visible in the daylight.
This GPS is not, however, for everybody. It's quite bulky when compared to some of the other units on the market. I like the bulkiness of it myself; it's very rugged and fits well in my hand. It's got a built-in camera, but I would only use that when I don't have my normal camera with me. The pictures that it takes are fine, but I'm more interested in the GPS itself rather than the camera. Another downside is that there have been at least six firmware updates in the last three months. That's quite a lot, and it indicates that there are several bugs in the software. However, it also shows that Garmin is serious about supporting the unit, and is actively developing fixes. Most of the issues that have been fixed involve Geocaching, which I don't do, and I personally have not experienced any problems with the unit.
Having said all of that, I'm extremely happy with this GPS, and hope to get many years of service out of it. I carry it in my backpack every time I go hunting, and have used it to mark all of my stands and all of the roads on my lease. I'm using Energizer Lithium batteries, and I am on my second set after 4 months of average usage. The unit also functions well for on-road navigation provided that you purchase the appropriate City Navigator maps. If you buy the auto-mount base, you'll also get voice directions with the unit.
When it comes to flashlights, I'm something of an enthusiast. For the last ten years, I've carried a Surefire 9P light in my Jeep, and whenever I've gone hunting I've stuck it in my backpack for easy access. A week or two ago, I went to get my oil changed. As always, I took the Surefire from the little slot that it fit perfectly in on my Jeep's shifter area and stuck it in the center console. When I went to get it out later that night, it was gone, likely stolen by an employee of the oil change place. After calling the York County sherriff's office to ask them how to proceed, they said to go back over and talk to the oil change place along with a police officer. I did this, and we failed to recover my light. Fortunately, the owner of the place was more than willing to pay me for it, so I left with a check to cover the cost of the 9P along with the LED replacement head that I had installed.
When I went to order a new one, I found that the 9P was no longer in production. I decided to shop around. I've got a Fenix headband light which is incredibly powerful and flexible, so I decided to give them a try on their handheld lights. I ended up ordering three lights... an E-20 for my wife, an E-21 for my Jeep, and a TA-20 for my backpack.
I 've been using the lights ever since, and thought I'd share my findings. The E-21 has a max output of 150 lumens. While not as bright as my old 9P, it uses standard AA batteries and fits pretty well in the same slot that my Surefire did. It's a good enough replacement, and does the job that I need it to do. Turning the head of the light slighty will select beween the bright and dim settings. I've got a stanard set of Duracells in the light right now, but the instructions do suggest using a high quality set of rechargable batteries. I'll be giving that a try in the near future.
The TA-20 light has a really solid feel to it, and at 220 lumens is 10% brighter than my old Surefire, even when I had the high-output head attached. It's got 4 times the life at full power than the Surefire did. The light uses CR-123 batteries and has an easy-to-use selector ring to adjust the output from four lumens up to the full 220 lumen mode. The low level mode is great for use in the dark in a deer blind. It gives you just enough light to see without being bright enough to alert the deer of your presence. This light is definitely going to be a keeper.
The 2011 Pee Dee Deer Classic proved to be another successful outdoor event. If you?re a deer hunter the event definitely got you in the right frame of mind as the new products, gear, & displays on hand would get your blood pumping. Not only were deer hunting product vendors on hand, but even turkey, gator, waterfowl, and international hunting vendors were on hand as well. Radio stations were broadcasting from outside and you could find baby alligators, puppies, deadly snakes, and even a bear on hand inside the event! There were several activities for youth & kids as well as speaking sessions for sponsors.
Also, if you?re a tech-geek and use Twitter we ?live-tweeted? the event with usage of the hashtag #PDDC. If you want to go back and see the tweets just search for that hashtag and you?ll find them
I enjoyed the 2011 Pee Dee Deer Classic and was able to talk with many of WeHuntSC.com?s sponsors, bloggers, as well as a couple of site members at the event. I had lunch with 2 of our bloggers (Tommy & Evan) as well as site member ?KershawBuck? during the middle of the day. We had a good time talking about our plans for this upcoming deer season as we chowed down on some Firehouse subs.
After lunch I headed over to the Schofield?s Hardware Annual Classic Sale where Mr. Blake Hodge of the Wrecking Crew was on hand doing some calling demos on behalf of Drake Outdoors. I have never been in Schofield?s Hardware before, but I have to tell you that I will definitely be going back! Just thinking of the word ?hardware? gives one an inaccurate impression of this store. This place is an outdoor store combined with a hardware store. To me, having all those products hand-in-hand is great because I always use hunting gear & hardware simultaneously. I couldn?t believe just how much hunting/outdoor product they had on hand in the store. They?ve got really nice clothing for any kind of hunter, they?ve got feeders, boots, deer stands, scent products, all the way to guns and ammo. You name it and they had it. I left the store with a new perspective?and a new outdoor store for when I?m in the Florence area!
After lunch and going to Schofield?s I headed back over to the 2011 Pee Dee Deer Classic. This time around I wanted to really look at the products on hand with a critical eye. Probably like many other people do, I?m always looking for new products that are not just ?gimmicks?. I?m looking for cutting edge innovation and for things that could improve my hunts and yet still not hurt my wallet too much! I?m also looking for booth-vendors who are passionate about the products they are promoting...in a genuine way, not a push-this-product on you type way. I found a couple of those products and met a couple of these people. Below I?ve detailed some of the people, companies, organizations, and products that stuck out to me.
Probably the neatest thing I saw this year was a camo suit called the ?SacSuit? by CamOver. This product is definitely innovative and the guy at the booth was definitely passionate about the product. It?s hard to describe what this suit is like without seeing it for yourself, but to try to describe it I would say that it?s a 1-piece camo suit that folds inside itself and zips up into a nice circular pouch. When opened for wearing the zippers where this thing zips are used as a venting system. This product was definitely designed by a hunter and I think the guy at the booth may have even sold out there at the event. This product is a definite ?must check out?.
- Web site: http://www.sacsuit.com/
Have you ever heard of ?Falconry?? I haven?t, but I learned about it this past weekend. Falconry, as defined by the SCFalconry.com web site is, ?the taking of wild quarry in its natural state and habitat by means of a trained raptor.? The definition taken from the web site lines up with what the guys at the show told me about falconry. They catch falcons in the wild and train them to hunt. Imagine dog hunting without dogs, but rather falcons. Trying to imagine this piqued my interest because I?ve never seen or really heard of anyone around me doing it. I?m definitely going to research more about the sport and hopefully try to learn more about it?and maybe even get in on a falconry hunt at some point.
- Web site: http://www.scfalconry.com/
Another new product that seemed really neat is a feed called "BuckYum". BuckYum is a feed, an attractant, a mineral supplement, and a permanent food source all at the same time! BuckYum consists of a mixture of corn, peanuts, and peanut chips. If you get anywhere near some BuckYum you definitely can smell the peanuts in it. Just grabbing a bag of BuckYum will make your hands smell like peanut butter. BuckYum not only smells great, but it has a good balance of protein, fat, & fiber that deer need. When you put BuckYum out it usually gets eaten qiuickly by the game in your area, but in the case that it doesn't all get eaten up the seeds in BuckYum start to grow a permanent food source. This way you get the maximum "bang for your buck".
One more notable thing about BuckYum is that one of it's creators is a former NFL player...and a good one at that! Brad Hoover of the Carolina Panthers is one of the co-owners of BuckYum. Brad is very down-to-earth and is genuinely a good guy...and he loves the outdoors. Brad gladly signed autographs for Pee Dee Deer Classic event attendees.
- Web site: http://www.BuckYum.com
WinnTuck is an organization that makes waterfowl lanyards and sunglass lanyards. You wouldn?t imagine finding many waterfowl oriented vendors at the ?deer? classic, but WinnTuck?s gear looks so good and is of such quality that it drew interest from everyone that walked by. WinnTuck?s lanyards are very high quality and very durable. Also, their shirts and hat designs are so unique and stylish that you can ?crossover? in these clothes...that is, you can wear them to an outdoor oriented event or a semi-formal event and still not be out of place. I love it when I find clothing that can ?fit in? regardless of the environment and WinnTuck?s clothing & logo design is so stylish that it fits this bill. If you?re a waterfowl hunter and you haven?t heard of (or seen) WinnTuck?s gear before then you should definitely check it out.
Product web site: http://www.WinnTuck.com
Appletree Game Feeder
Yes you?ve seen all kind of feeders before, but you?ve never seen one like this. It doesn?t work by gravity and the contents of the feeder move upward before they move downward. This is another product that is tough to describe without seeing. This product was also definitely designed by hunters because all the T?s were crossed & I?s were dotted in the design of this product. I fired rapid questions about the design to the gentlemen working this booth and he had a quick and legitimate response to every question.
- Web site: http://appletree.embarqspace.com
McKenzie Scent Fan Bag
I also spent time over at Eddie McKenzie?s booth where he was demoing his ?Scent Fan Duffle bag? for the second year. His booth had the whole area smelling like dog-fennel and event attendees caught whiffs of the smell as they walked by. It was neat to see them smell the scent and then turn and look. I guess from a vendor?s perspective it?s a good way to get attention. Though, what was more impressive to me was that people who had previously bought the bag last year were stopping by just to tell Eddie how much they loved his bag and how they were sitting on top of deer in tree stands without the deer scenting them during the last deer hunting season. Unsolicited positive feedback from consumers is always a good sign and demonstrated that to me that the people who use the McKenzie Scent Fan bag like it so much that they stopped back by just to talk about it. That is impressive. So if you?re reading this blog and you?ve never heard about the McKenzie Scent Fan Duffle Bag, you should really check it out.
Web site: www.McKScent.com
Riley Darby I also met a YouTube star for the first time in person this past weekend. I?ve seen Riley Darby in a lot of videos where he?s catching fish, showing off the biggest buck in the world, and almost falling off an ATV, but I?ve never met him in person until this past weekend. From meeting Riley I can tell you that the videos don?t do his personality justice. Not only was Riley shooting random people that walked by with a rubber band gun that he got at the Classic, he was telling us about the deer he?s going to harvest this coming year, he put on a display at the bow shooting station, and he even threatened to shoot a bear with a rubber band too. The camera loves Riley and he?s pretty accurate with a rubber band gun so it?s only a matter of time until he?s on ESPN outdoors. Keep your eyes out for Riley in the future!
All in all, the Classic was another good event. I had a good time hanging out and seeing the new products. Tommy also pointed something out to me that I had previously just walked right by. Someone had used the WeHuntSC.com banner in their setup! This was really neat to see.
It seems like time just slips away on me and before you know it deer season is almost here and I feel like I?m behind on my envisioned schedule. This past weekend I pretty much dedicated the whole day on Saturday to accomplishing some things I?ve wanted to do for a while. There are always cameras to put out or move, feeders to set up, stands to move & check, ground to plow, and the list goes on and on. Up until now I?ve been doing some of this whenever I could, but with the season right around the corner for me I had to get on the ball.
I ended up not getting home after our game on Friday night until 2am. I had an 8 o?clock meeting on Saturday morning to do some work so, as you may expect, I was a little tired. After getting a biscuit and a Bojangles sweet tea I was good to go. We took the tractor over and did some plowing on one of our hunting properties. I?m planning on doing a separate blog about these food plots so I won?t go into too much detail other than to tell you that the tractor messed up on us after plowing the first plot. We had to stop at this location shortly after the tractor quit running. I did walk the land some taking a few pictures and as I walked down one area something caught my eye?a 4 foot long snake! I did have my snake boots on and I was glad that I did because initially just seeing this thing scared me. I looked closer at it and saw that it was just a black snake and that calmed me down a little bit. I tried to get a picture of it, but it scurried off before I was able to get the camera on my phone turned on.
Also, walking down this same path I saw where some turkeys had been ?dusting? on the edge of the woods. I had never heard of a turkey ?dusting? before until last spring when Mr. Puette told me about it. Apparently turkeys can get mites that aggravate them and to remedy this they choke the mites out by wallowing around in dust. I guess it makes them feel better, but you could definitely see the circular patterns of dirt on the edge of this area and the turkeys had dropped some feathers there as well. I guess it?s a good sign to see that you have turkeys on the property though!
After my walk (and since the tractor quit working) I moved on to the next business I had on schedule for the day. I traveled down to my in-laws house where we put together a new deer stand. Last year at Christmas I got a deer stand as a present and I exchanged it for a ?buddy stand? and have been meaning to get it together and put up for some time now and I finally got around to it. Turns out putting this deer stand together and putting it up was quite the process. My father-in-law and another member of the family helped me assemble the stand and it took 3 of us about 3 hours to figure it all out and get it properly assembled. The parts weren?t labeled and the directions weren?t the greatest. The winds from hurricane Irene were blowing enough to keep it somewhat cool, but every now and then they?d stop and the sun would come out and it was really hot. We had tons of pieces of this deer stand just lying around on the driveway and slowly but surely we figured it out. In retrospect I don?t think one person could have gotten it done by themself and if so, it would have taken about double the time necessary. It was a project to complete and some bonding time with my in-laws nonetheless.
After getting the stand assembled it was time to get the stand up. One of my in-laws who was assisting just happen to have a new tractor and the tractor made it really easy to carry the parts back down into the woods since there was already an old road there. We drove the stand there in pieces and then put them together and got it up on the tree. The stand is higher than I would normally like (around 17 feet) because I don?t like heights, but it?s pretty sturdy so I think I?ll make it. It seemed that the biting flies back in these woods particularly liked me for some reason. I had several encounters with biting flies and on some occasions they won and on some occasions I did. Putting up a deer stand while being harassed by biting flies is not one of my favorite past times! We took some extra straps to go around the tree and up the tree as I moved up the ladder to ensure safety. After getting to the top I winched the stand as tight as I could to the tree. The stand had two wenches and I got both of them really snug and then we put the roof on which I also winched really tightly. After everything was set up I put the skirt on and unzipped the windows to look out and see the new perspective on the scenery. It looked good!
I sat in the stand and as I looked out I thought to myself that if I ever got a deer out of this stand that I would remember this day and all the sweat, time, help from others, and fly bites that were necessary to get all this accomplished. A lot of energy was put into getting that stand up in that tree. Hopefully I?ll be able to get some good footage and maybe even a good buck out of the stand this season.
In case you were wondering how I go that much free time on a Saturday let me back up and say that earlier that day my wife and her mother went shopping. Yes, that explains it all right. When they were leaving they asked if we needed them to pick us up anything. Sarcastically I responded and said ?Pick me up some deer corn? because I knew they weren?t going shopping anywhere that I would have deer corn. After all of our work we returned from putting up the deer stand and they had returned and my wife said ?I?ve got your deer corn in the back? and I almost couldn?t believe it. Yes, I?ve got a good wife! She had picked me up a bag of corn. I was still dirty and sweaty and figured I might as well go put it out while I was there and able to. I didn?t give her a hug at the moment because she wouldn?t have it, but I did thank her and grabbed the bag and headed back to the woods. As I turned I noticed that my father-in-law had an old large PVC pipe leaning on a building. It could potentially make a great feeder if he wasn?t going to use it. I asked him if he had plans for it and he said no?10 minutes later I had a skill-saw out cutting it at the bottom and smoothing the top off. The only problem was that this thing is white and stands out like a sore thumb. I?m going to paint it at some point, but for now it will just have to suffice. So I headed back down into the woods and had me a homemade feeder and a bag of corn. I strapped it to a tree and filled it with corn. I?ve had a salt block down there now for a couple of months and they are definitely licking on it. It?s starting to get smoothed out. The corn feeder is right beside of the salt-block and they are both about 30 yards in front of my stand. Hopefully all this hard work, some feed, and a salt-block out there for the deer will keep them coming in regular. If I get lucky then you?ll probably read about it on a future blog sometime.
All in all it was a very productive Saturday even though the tractor quit working half-way through our work at the first location. I was dead tired by the end of the day and I downed 3 gatorades in a row when I got back to the house. My body was hurting?literally. My eyes were burning from the sweat getting in them, my back was aching, and the sweat had dried on me making me feel just sticky and grimy. Combine all that with the sting of the biting fly bites and you?ve got how I was feeling. Needless to say it didn?t take me long to get to sleep that night.
I think about all of this hard work, time we put in, and energy we hunters spend in preparation for hunting season and wonder if it?s worth it. I can remember hunts where I?ve harvested deer and know that it?s very worth it when you?re able to have that experience in the woods.
I?m looking forward to this coming hunting season and guess what?s going on this coming Saturday as well? another work day!
As deer hunters we often game-plan our hunts based on available food sources and rut activity, but we don't really factor in water sources that much. Not including water sources into the game-plan may be a mistake on our behalves. Think about it, food and water are the most elemental needs of a deer with water being the more critical of the two. Trying to look at deer hunting from a "water", perspective can prove beneficial,especially in drier areas.
Deer get water from a variety of sources, such as ponds, streams, and lakes. They also get water from the dew on plants and the water contained within plants. In some articles I read it was noted that, if lush forage is available, deer may be able to meet their body's water demand solely from the water within plants. This has not been scientifically proven, but it appeared to be a believed concept.
Also, typically the richest soil in a given area will be near a water source. The moisture in the water helps the soil be more fertile. This richest soil will grow the best forage and this provides deer with succulent forage to browse on along with providing great cover. These aspects of areas near water sources are very attractive for deer?naturally they will want to be near these areas.