By Rick Philippi
A while back a hunter asked me if I thought feeding protein enhanced the development of deer. My answer was, “ABSOULTUELY!”
Initially, I fed a protein supplement for three years in a row to see is it had an effect on the whitetail deer herd. The benefits were unreal and I’ve done it every year since. The deer got fatter and their coats were healthier. I would say the antler development jumped to a completely different level.
The best time to start your protein feeding program is in Mid – February and run it up to September 1. I like starting in February because it is after the rut and when the bucks really need nourishment. They were constantly running does and in most cases their body weight dropped dramatically.
One thing you will find through the feeding periods I mentioned is, there are times deer pound the protein, and at other periods they back off and hardly eat it.
The reason for this is because of what mother nature produces and can offer is better than any man made supplement. I noticed that in the spring time of the year they generally back off when it rains and there is an abundance of forbs and natural god made food.
Over the years I have used two types of protein feeders and they both have benefits and down falls. One type of feeder I have used is a gravity feeder. The greatest benefit of this type feeder is , you just filled it up and the deer have access to protein whenever they want. If you have an unlimited budget this is a great program to follow.
Most of us hunters do not have an unlimited budget and that is I why I changed the type of protein feeder that I use. Earlier this Spring I purchased two Electric Protein Feeders from All Season Feeders here in Texas. These feeders hold 600 pounds of protein feed and the electric feeder unit lets me program the amount of protein I feed each day.
I can also increase or decrease the amount of feed times based on how I perceive the protein consumption at that particular time of year. On an average, it’s been proven that a deer will eat about 2 lbs. of protein daily. So, if I calculate, based off past feeding results and game camera pictures I can conclude, for example, that approximately 6 different bucks and 6 does are hitting a particular protein feeder. I will crank the feed times up to feed 24 pounds a day or feed twice a day distributing 12 pounds of protein at each feeding time and accommodate the 12 different deer.
This is not an exact science but if you spend time out on your hunting property and pay close attention to your game camera pictures, you can know exactly what you need to do in terms of adjusting the feed times and the amount. Again, the last feature and benefit of the electric feeder I like is, I control the amount of feed that is distributed and I don’t break the bank either.