Where Are My Deer?

There’s nothing worse. You’re sitting here in the blind at daybreak, thinking about the half-eaten Snickers you left in the truck, and not a single deer in sight. You piled corn high enough to make a co-op envious but where are the deer? And you hear the same questions from your camo-clad neighbors at the local lunch stop.

Across the central plains we were recently hit with an abnormal weather pattern of snow, ice, sleet and rain. Having had mostly warm temperatures previously, our fall change hadn’t quite arrived. Now we are faced with a multitude of leaves and nuts covering the ground, vying for the attention of our deer herds.

So, what now? How can we get that big guy we saw on the cam 30 days ago back around our stands? One possibility is attractants. There are an endless number on the market, but we all know the one he’s most interested in is his girlfriend on the next 40 acres over the fence. Just like a guy, he only likes two things — lunch and ladies. If we had his attention before but she’s stolen his heart now, what can we do? First, let’s take a look at anything we’ve changed in that last 30 days. This time of year, odds are good that you may have changed up your feeding plan.

Common practice is often to feed a high protein supplement in the off-season to focus on nutrition – growing that big rack we so desperately want for the trophy wall. Then, many hunters switch during the season to whole corn. It’s not surprising that this change from a sweet-smelling protein to plain corn has impacted your buck’s habits.

Now, there are obviously options for to pull him back in, an estrus attractant for example, but the reality is he’s still needing serious nutrition. Not only is a deer more likely to keep coming to a feed he’s been chowing on all along, we can also give them the nutritional support they need to survive the rut and the coming winter. Plus, he’ll be more comfortable – and predictable – when he stops by for a snack before heading out to the local creek bed for dancing with the does.

Don’t change your feeding patterns in the midst of season just because the pallets of corn showed up at the local co-op. Deer nutrition is critical at rut and going into winter. If he doesn’t fall prey to the wall, let’s make sure he’s in the best condition to grow for next year. Not to mention, your does need all the support they can get to make it through the winter and maintain high conception rates. Keeping them healthy and producing is how we grow those monster deer for our kids to hunt in the future.