It is well known among hunters that the antlers, and therefore the “score” of a buck heavily depend on three things: genetics, age, and nutrition. Age, of course, plays the biggest role, while genetics play the smallest role. Right in the middle is nutrition. A hunter can help supplement the nutrition of their local deer population through the use of gravity feeders (as long as they follow local, state, and federal regulation.)
Defining Gravity Feeders
There are a few different methods that hunters use to provide supplemental nutrition to their deer population. The simplest way, of course, is to hand toss nutritional pellets in areas near deer populations, particularly in areas where you would like them to venture (for example, near game cameras.) This can be inconvenient and time consuming. To solve this, gravity deer feeders were built. In their simplest iteration, gravity feeders use the natural, ever present force of gravity to automatically distribute additional food as wildlife consumes it.
Elements of a Good Deer Feeder
There are certain criteria that a gravity feeder should meet in order to be most effective. If you are considering purchasing, or making, a gravity feeder, keep all of these factors in mind.
Durability-Most deer feeding is conducted during the harsh winter months. For this reason, it is important that the feeder is made out of long-lasting, high-quality materials. The weather will not be the only thing trying to destroy your feeder: large racoons and other undesirable wildlife will also find the food in your feeder appealing.
Waterproof-The feed that you are providing for your deer population is susceptible to spoilage and molding, not to mention soggy feed is less attractive to deer than fresh, crunchy feed. For this reason, make sure you get a gravity feeder that is well waterproofed.
Lockable-A gravity feeder that has a lockable lid is an indication of both durability and waterproofing. Lockable lids seal better, and will keep the feed away from less desirable wildlife like raccoons and squirrels.
Dispensing mechanism-Gravity feeders typically use a port to distribute food. Other types of feeders may use a spinner or a combination of a port and agitator.
Storage Quantity-A large storage area on a feeder is much more convenient. Depending on the size of your deer population, you will probably want to get the feeder with the greatest available storage area. Less frequent refilling also means that the dispenser’s mechanical parts are used less, therefor increasing durability and reducing strain on the machine overall.
Some people think that they will be better off building their own gravity feeder, but this can be a bad idea. It is likely more cost effective to purchase a gravity feeder, as it will last much longer and work better in the long run.
In order for a gravity feeder to be truly effective, it is important to place it in the correct spot.
Make sure to place it in an area frequently traveled by your deer population.
You will probably also want to make sure it is in an area that you can access with a vehicle so that you can restock it conveniently. That said, seclusion from humans is also important; too much human activity can scare the deer off. Make sure to take your hunting strategy into consideration, and place the feeder close enough to water and bedding areas to make the most of it.