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Q:
The little fawns are coming into my bait pile. I do not want hurt them with a feed they can't handle. Is there a feed that could be bad for their digestive system or damage their baby teeth? I am using whole corn, horse feed and a mineral block.

Question by Gary Devine. Uploaded on July 24, 2012

Answers (14)

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from 99explorer wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

You could try alfalfa hay.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

Better yet, JUST DON'T FEED THE ANIMALS. Mother Nature doesn't make any mistakes with the feed she supplies. And for crying out loud DON'T give them alfalfa hay! It's too rich for cattle calves. Gives them the scours (trots). I can imagine what it would do to a fawn deer! I suggest you just knock it off, if not altogether, at least for a while till they are more mature.

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from Josh Giannino wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

Calves and colts are tricky eaters and usually have to be weaned into grain, I imagine that the fawns need more of a natural feeds, try come'er'deer on natural vegitation, then switch back to your bait if thats what you choose to hunt over, I personally would do like OHH says

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from Carl Huber wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

I might be wrong but wild animals are lot more educated in what they should or should not eat. I do agree however with OH on feeding animals. We have captive deer on Fire Island NY. 80 days out of the year they are hand feed. Come deer season you can hunt them with handful of peanuts and a sharp knife.

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from 99explorer wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

I don't know about cattle calves, but pen-raised deer fawns are fed fresh greens or hay every day. Alfalfa, clover and dandelions are preferred.
And these are deer with no other source of nutrition, whereas a hunter's bait pile is just an occasional snack.

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from citizensmm@veri... wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

I have no idea... but 99explorer sounds like he knows what he is talking about... he gets my vote. Go alfalfa.

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from Hobob wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

No matter if you feed them or not fans have a high mortality. I would let them just browse naturally no need to feed now.

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from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

Chalk up another vote for "stop feeding the deer!" Food is usually not in limited supply in the summer. Perhaps consider a food plot for next year? In the mean time, please go to the following website and download the file called "Plead Don't Feed the Deer":(www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/deer/11949)

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from Gary Devine wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

Hey Bioguy01, my intent is to see what type of head gear is out there, on the local bucks. I have trail cameras facing my bait pile. The does come in the little fawns follow during the day. The bucks have been coming in at night, when its a little cooler out. I counted seven different bucks in velvet and only one is a shooter. Archery season starts the first week of September. Thats only five weeks away. New Jersey is a very populated state with many bowhunters. If I took your advice and stopped baiting the bucks would move to another hunter's bait pile miles away. I was a little concern about the fawns safety when their eating the same bait that I put out for their Fathers. It legal to bait in New Jersey and it's awesome with a bow and arrow.

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from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

"The bucks have been coming in at night, when its a little cooler out."

Even in the summer, if you are in a buck's core area you will get daytime pictures of them (usually in the morning or evening). What this tells me is that the bucks are using your bait pile for food, but they're already using somebody else's place for cover (because big bucks spend most of the day bedded down in thick cover...if the food source were closer to good cover, daytime pictures would be more likely). Unless you have both, don't expect to hold bucks on your property, and certainly don't expect to shoot a bruiser over bait.

"If I took your advice and stopped baiting the bucks would move to another hunter's bait pile miles away."

1) I have conducted enough telemetry on bucks and seen enough GPS data to confidently say that your statement above is not true. Adult deer exhibit an extremely high amount of site fidelity and often have home ranges that extend no further than a few hundred acres (except during the rut...then adult buck home ranges almost double). Some bucks do have 2-3 core areas that can be several miles apart, but if your property has food, cover, and water, you're going to have several residents, and they are going to be there regardless if you have a bait pile or not. A bait pile increases the frequency at which they visit a certain part of their normal home range, but it does not significantly influence their where their home range occurs. The only exceptions to this are when food resources are very scarce (like during cold winters with deep snows), when deer switch their diet to carbohydrates (during which I have observed bucks travel up to a mile to feed on standing corn), or when deer are in migratory herds. Of all of those scenarios, the carbohydrate switch in October is the only one you need to worry about in terms of deer visiting other hunters bait piles...even then it will probably be after dark, and it will be the closest carbohydrate food source available. The area where I witnessed that 1 mile movement did not have acorns (no oak trees), baiting was not allowed, and the closest source of carbohydrates was 1 mile away at the standing corn.

2) Deer are much more attracted to natural food sources than bait piles. I know this because I trap deer, and the best time to trap deer is when food sources are covered with snow. Once the snow is gone, trapping success diminishes quickly. This past season I captured deer in Georgia where we didn't have any snow. We darted deer over bait piles (which requires the deer to be within bow range). We darted them in the evenings and into the night with scope mounted flashlights, and most nights we had multiple people in stands and it still took us 5 months to catch 25 deer! You know what took us so long? For one, we were competing with several other food sources, particularly acorns because the previous fall had a really good mast crop. Plenty of studies show that deer will target acorns almost exclusively if they are available. Also, deer learned where to wind check our bait sites from up to 200 yards away, so in order to hunt certain stands, we needed to wait until the wind was absolutely perfect. If the wind wasn't perfect for any of our stands, we didn't hunt. Before we employed this strategy, our success rate was 1 deer in a month. After we employed this strategy, we were averaging about a deer each night we hunted and some nights we doubled. Of the 25 deer we captured in that 5 month period, 18 of them were captured in the last 6 weeks. We did capture a few adult bucks during daylight hours, but according to their GPS collar data, our bait piles were right near their bedding areas!

3) How many "shooter" bucks have you ever killed off a bait pile? Usually they know enough to wind-check the area before entering, and if your bait pile isn't close to a bedding area, the chances of you killing a big buck go down hill dramatically. The exception to this is during the rut when a hot doe feeding at the bait pile might draw in bucks, but that can happen just about anywhere in the woods during the rut.

My recommendation: Forget feeding deer for now, they don't need it. Maintain your camera site as a mineral lick and nothing more. In the last 2 weeks of August, if you have multiple trail cameras, spread them out at about 1/100 acres throughout your hunting property if you can, placing them in high deer traffic areas. Bait the camera sites with corn. When you collect the trail camera pictures, pay particular attention to where you get consistent daytime pictures of shooter bucks. That's where you want to be come opening day of bow because at that point, you're in that deer's daytime home range. If you don't get daytime pictures of shooter bucks, then I highly recommend forgetting about feeding deer next year and work on creating thick cover on your hunting property to serve as bedding area so big bucks can start using your property for bedding cover instead of your neighbor's.

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from Gary Devine wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

Bioguy01 in answer to your questions,
I am two hundred yard from a bedding area on my hunting lease. New Jersey just allowed hunting over bait about seven years ago.
I have bagged three shooter Canadian bucks over bait piles during November's rut. Each buck came into the bait pile by himself. Most times I'm in Canada and I miss out on the New Jersey's rut. One year I had a large NJ nine point shooter buck, with great g2s and g3s coming into my bait only at night. When I went to Canada I loaded up my Jersey bait pile and put my trail cam on it. Do you know that buck came into my bait at 9:30 in the morning, four days in a row. If I were home instead of being in Canada I would of stuck him with an arrow on the third morning. Last year I did not go to Canada and I never picked up my bow or bought a bow hunting license. Never saw a shooter buck last year with my three trail cameras working the woods. I not going out there and waste my time with young bucks with small rack of antlers. Canada spoiled me.
I know one fact that once the NJ farmers harvest their crops the bait pile action skyrockets day and night.

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from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

"I have bagged three shooter Canadian bucks over bait piles during November's rut."

First off, NJ is not Canada. Was the area you hunted in Canada big woods? If so, the best food in the area is native browse. Plop a corn pile in that and watch the deer come running because that's the best food source available! If there's a real good beech nut crop, bait is less effective in big woods. In NJ, you have a lot more food to compete with including food plots, waste crops, acorns, and other hard and soft mast. This makes baiting a less effective. Deer will generally take the free handouts, but don't expect gigantic deer to come waltzing into your bait pile during daylight hours.

When in November were you in Canada? The reason I ask is because there are 3 phases of the rut, and I'm very familiar with when they occur in the North. I want to determine if you were there during one of the seeking phases. There are 2 seeking phases when bucks are on their feet and highly mobile during daylight hours. My hypothesis is that your bait piles were likely attracting does at night, and bucks were checking the area trying to get on their scent. Bucks don't eat a lot during the rut, and it's highly unlikely that they were actively seeking out food during the rut. When the rut hits, they have 1 thing on their mind, and it ain't corn! They'll nibble here and there while on the run, but they don't generally seek out food during the rut.

"Do you know that buck came into my bait at 9:30 in the morning, four days in a row."

I believe it. He probably knows how to wind check your stand from a VERY long distance. Also, check your trail camera pictures leading up to the buck being there. I'm betting there were does there before he was.

"If I were home instead of being in Canada I would of stuck him with an arrow on the third morning."

Not necessarily. If you sat in that stand and didn't play the wind properly. That deer probably would have scent check the area, busted you before you even see them, and you would be none the wiser that he was even there. They don't get big by being dumb...you can fool their eyes and ears, but you can't fool their noses. The key to killing big bucks is knowing their behaviors, and always playing the wind.

"Never saw a shooter buck last year with my three trail cameras working the woods. I not going out there and waste my time with young bucks with small rack of antlers."

That's your loss...just because you don't get trail camera pictures of shooter bucks on your property during the pre-season, doesn't mean that big deer aren't using your property. Anything can happen during the rut. Mature bucks generally double their home range size, and often bucks you never saw before will show up during the rut. You're not going to intercept those bucks unless you're in a stand, but you're also probably not going to catch those bucks feeding at your bait pile...you need to find travel corridors and funnels.

"I know one fact that once the NJ farmers harvest their crops the bait pile action skyrockets day and night."

And if you're still not getting pictures of mature bucks during daylight hours, you need to find a different spot to hunt. Get off the bait pile and get closer to the bedding area because that's where the big boy is going to be.

Just so you know where I'm coming from, I was taught to hunt over bait from a very young age. Until I was 16, I didn't even know there were other methods of hunting deer other than hunting over bait piles and doing deer drives (neither of which were very successful). Since then I have developed my own hunting tactics based on biology and behavior of the animal. I have been a MUCH more successful hunter using the tactics I developed on my own than I ever was over bait. I also find that the successful tactics I use are also used by very successful deer hunters throughout the country. That said, this past spring I had to become an expert of hunting over bait. Darting deer for research, I learned that strategic placement of bait is very important, as well as not over-pressuring baited areas, and ALWAYS playing the wind. The key is placing the bait piles where you have a distinct wind advantage in at least 1 direction, and then not hunting the stand until you have a perfect wind.

I'm trying to help you out here Gary. If you trust me, I can help put you on big deer this fall, even from 2,500 miles away :-)

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from Allan wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

Hey Gary no bait no problem hunt like a man

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from Gary Devine wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

Thanks Allan, for saying I'm not a man because I hunt over bait.
Total class on your part, and not swooping to your name calling level.
I hunt deer with a bow and arrow over bait. Its legal to bait in New Jersey.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

Better yet, JUST DON'T FEED THE ANIMALS. Mother Nature doesn't make any mistakes with the feed she supplies. And for crying out loud DON'T give them alfalfa hay! It's too rich for cattle calves. Gives them the scours (trots). I can imagine what it would do to a fawn deer! I suggest you just knock it off, if not altogether, at least for a while till they are more mature.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from 99explorer wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

I don't know about cattle calves, but pen-raised deer fawns are fed fresh greens or hay every day. Alfalfa, clover and dandelions are preferred.
And these are deer with no other source of nutrition, whereas a hunter's bait pile is just an occasional snack.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from citizensmm@veri... wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

I have no idea... but 99explorer sounds like he knows what he is talking about... he gets my vote. Go alfalfa.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

Chalk up another vote for "stop feeding the deer!" Food is usually not in limited supply in the summer. Perhaps consider a food plot for next year? In the mean time, please go to the following website and download the file called "Plead Don't Feed the Deer":(www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/deer/11949)

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

"The bucks have been coming in at night, when its a little cooler out."

Even in the summer, if you are in a buck's core area you will get daytime pictures of them (usually in the morning or evening). What this tells me is that the bucks are using your bait pile for food, but they're already using somebody else's place for cover (because big bucks spend most of the day bedded down in thick cover...if the food source were closer to good cover, daytime pictures would be more likely). Unless you have both, don't expect to hold bucks on your property, and certainly don't expect to shoot a bruiser over bait.

"If I took your advice and stopped baiting the bucks would move to another hunter's bait pile miles away."

1) I have conducted enough telemetry on bucks and seen enough GPS data to confidently say that your statement above is not true. Adult deer exhibit an extremely high amount of site fidelity and often have home ranges that extend no further than a few hundred acres (except during the rut...then adult buck home ranges almost double). Some bucks do have 2-3 core areas that can be several miles apart, but if your property has food, cover, and water, you're going to have several residents, and they are going to be there regardless if you have a bait pile or not. A bait pile increases the frequency at which they visit a certain part of their normal home range, but it does not significantly influence their where their home range occurs. The only exceptions to this are when food resources are very scarce (like during cold winters with deep snows), when deer switch their diet to carbohydrates (during which I have observed bucks travel up to a mile to feed on standing corn), or when deer are in migratory herds. Of all of those scenarios, the carbohydrate switch in October is the only one you need to worry about in terms of deer visiting other hunters bait piles...even then it will probably be after dark, and it will be the closest carbohydrate food source available. The area where I witnessed that 1 mile movement did not have acorns (no oak trees), baiting was not allowed, and the closest source of carbohydrates was 1 mile away at the standing corn.

2) Deer are much more attracted to natural food sources than bait piles. I know this because I trap deer, and the best time to trap deer is when food sources are covered with snow. Once the snow is gone, trapping success diminishes quickly. This past season I captured deer in Georgia where we didn't have any snow. We darted deer over bait piles (which requires the deer to be within bow range). We darted them in the evenings and into the night with scope mounted flashlights, and most nights we had multiple people in stands and it still took us 5 months to catch 25 deer! You know what took us so long? For one, we were competing with several other food sources, particularly acorns because the previous fall had a really good mast crop. Plenty of studies show that deer will target acorns almost exclusively if they are available. Also, deer learned where to wind check our bait sites from up to 200 yards away, so in order to hunt certain stands, we needed to wait until the wind was absolutely perfect. If the wind wasn't perfect for any of our stands, we didn't hunt. Before we employed this strategy, our success rate was 1 deer in a month. After we employed this strategy, we were averaging about a deer each night we hunted and some nights we doubled. Of the 25 deer we captured in that 5 month period, 18 of them were captured in the last 6 weeks. We did capture a few adult bucks during daylight hours, but according to their GPS collar data, our bait piles were right near their bedding areas!

3) How many "shooter" bucks have you ever killed off a bait pile? Usually they know enough to wind-check the area before entering, and if your bait pile isn't close to a bedding area, the chances of you killing a big buck go down hill dramatically. The exception to this is during the rut when a hot doe feeding at the bait pile might draw in bucks, but that can happen just about anywhere in the woods during the rut.

My recommendation: Forget feeding deer for now, they don't need it. Maintain your camera site as a mineral lick and nothing more. In the last 2 weeks of August, if you have multiple trail cameras, spread them out at about 1/100 acres throughout your hunting property if you can, placing them in high deer traffic areas. Bait the camera sites with corn. When you collect the trail camera pictures, pay particular attention to where you get consistent daytime pictures of shooter bucks. That's where you want to be come opening day of bow because at that point, you're in that deer's daytime home range. If you don't get daytime pictures of shooter bucks, then I highly recommend forgetting about feeding deer next year and work on creating thick cover on your hunting property to serve as bedding area so big bucks can start using your property for bedding cover instead of your neighbor's.

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from 99explorer wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

You could try alfalfa hay.

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from Josh Giannino wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

Calves and colts are tricky eaters and usually have to be weaned into grain, I imagine that the fawns need more of a natural feeds, try come'er'deer on natural vegitation, then switch back to your bait if thats what you choose to hunt over, I personally would do like OHH says

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Carl Huber wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

I might be wrong but wild animals are lot more educated in what they should or should not eat. I do agree however with OH on feeding animals. We have captive deer on Fire Island NY. 80 days out of the year they are hand feed. Come deer season you can hunt them with handful of peanuts and a sharp knife.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hobob wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

No matter if you feed them or not fans have a high mortality. I would let them just browse naturally no need to feed now.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gary Devine wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

Hey Bioguy01, my intent is to see what type of head gear is out there, on the local bucks. I have trail cameras facing my bait pile. The does come in the little fawns follow during the day. The bucks have been coming in at night, when its a little cooler out. I counted seven different bucks in velvet and only one is a shooter. Archery season starts the first week of September. Thats only five weeks away. New Jersey is a very populated state with many bowhunters. If I took your advice and stopped baiting the bucks would move to another hunter's bait pile miles away. I was a little concern about the fawns safety when their eating the same bait that I put out for their Fathers. It legal to bait in New Jersey and it's awesome with a bow and arrow.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gary Devine wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

Bioguy01 in answer to your questions,
I am two hundred yard from a bedding area on my hunting lease. New Jersey just allowed hunting over bait about seven years ago.
I have bagged three shooter Canadian bucks over bait piles during November's rut. Each buck came into the bait pile by himself. Most times I'm in Canada and I miss out on the New Jersey's rut. One year I had a large NJ nine point shooter buck, with great g2s and g3s coming into my bait only at night. When I went to Canada I loaded up my Jersey bait pile and put my trail cam on it. Do you know that buck came into my bait at 9:30 in the morning, four days in a row. If I were home instead of being in Canada I would of stuck him with an arrow on the third morning. Last year I did not go to Canada and I never picked up my bow or bought a bow hunting license. Never saw a shooter buck last year with my three trail cameras working the woods. I not going out there and waste my time with young bucks with small rack of antlers. Canada spoiled me.
I know one fact that once the NJ farmers harvest their crops the bait pile action skyrockets day and night.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

"I have bagged three shooter Canadian bucks over bait piles during November's rut."

First off, NJ is not Canada. Was the area you hunted in Canada big woods? If so, the best food in the area is native browse. Plop a corn pile in that and watch the deer come running because that's the best food source available! If there's a real good beech nut crop, bait is less effective in big woods. In NJ, you have a lot more food to compete with including food plots, waste crops, acorns, and other hard and soft mast. This makes baiting a less effective. Deer will generally take the free handouts, but don't expect gigantic deer to come waltzing into your bait pile during daylight hours.

When in November were you in Canada? The reason I ask is because there are 3 phases of the rut, and I'm very familiar with when they occur in the North. I want to determine if you were there during one of the seeking phases. There are 2 seeking phases when bucks are on their feet and highly mobile during daylight hours. My hypothesis is that your bait piles were likely attracting does at night, and bucks were checking the area trying to get on their scent. Bucks don't eat a lot during the rut, and it's highly unlikely that they were actively seeking out food during the rut. When the rut hits, they have 1 thing on their mind, and it ain't corn! They'll nibble here and there while on the run, but they don't generally seek out food during the rut.

"Do you know that buck came into my bait at 9:30 in the morning, four days in a row."

I believe it. He probably knows how to wind check your stand from a VERY long distance. Also, check your trail camera pictures leading up to the buck being there. I'm betting there were does there before he was.

"If I were home instead of being in Canada I would of stuck him with an arrow on the third morning."

Not necessarily. If you sat in that stand and didn't play the wind properly. That deer probably would have scent check the area, busted you before you even see them, and you would be none the wiser that he was even there. They don't get big by being dumb...you can fool their eyes and ears, but you can't fool their noses. The key to killing big bucks is knowing their behaviors, and always playing the wind.

"Never saw a shooter buck last year with my three trail cameras working the woods. I not going out there and waste my time with young bucks with small rack of antlers."

That's your loss...just because you don't get trail camera pictures of shooter bucks on your property during the pre-season, doesn't mean that big deer aren't using your property. Anything can happen during the rut. Mature bucks generally double their home range size, and often bucks you never saw before will show up during the rut. You're not going to intercept those bucks unless you're in a stand, but you're also probably not going to catch those bucks feeding at your bait pile...you need to find travel corridors and funnels.

"I know one fact that once the NJ farmers harvest their crops the bait pile action skyrockets day and night."

And if you're still not getting pictures of mature bucks during daylight hours, you need to find a different spot to hunt. Get off the bait pile and get closer to the bedding area because that's where the big boy is going to be.

Just so you know where I'm coming from, I was taught to hunt over bait from a very young age. Until I was 16, I didn't even know there were other methods of hunting deer other than hunting over bait piles and doing deer drives (neither of which were very successful). Since then I have developed my own hunting tactics based on biology and behavior of the animal. I have been a MUCH more successful hunter using the tactics I developed on my own than I ever was over bait. I also find that the successful tactics I use are also used by very successful deer hunters throughout the country. That said, this past spring I had to become an expert of hunting over bait. Darting deer for research, I learned that strategic placement of bait is very important, as well as not over-pressuring baited areas, and ALWAYS playing the wind. The key is placing the bait piles where you have a distinct wind advantage in at least 1 direction, and then not hunting the stand until you have a perfect wind.

I'm trying to help you out here Gary. If you trust me, I can help put you on big deer this fall, even from 2,500 miles away :-)

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from Allan wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

Hey Gary no bait no problem hunt like a man

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from Gary Devine wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

Thanks Allan, for saying I'm not a man because I hunt over bait.
Total class on your part, and not swooping to your name calling level.
I hunt deer with a bow and arrow over bait. Its legal to bait in New Jersey.

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