Choosing the Best Deer Feeder for the Money
A couple of old adages say that the way to a man’s heart begins in his gut and an army marches on its stomach and it seems that many other creatures are in the same boat. In both the human and animal kingdom, food is like a magnet. Whether home-grown or delivered to one’s front door, we all eat, and most don’t mind traveling for good or any food. Whitetail deer quickly learn what foods the forest and fields provide at various times of the year and, if unpressured, will travel predictable corridors as they feed. We know that we can improve the land we hunt by creating openings, planting seasonal crops and fertilizing to help ensure a healthy deer herd. Many have also learned that furnishing additional nutrients using deer feeders is an excellent tool to fine-tune deer nutrition and activity. So, when searching for the best deer feeder for the money, how does one evaluate which one to buy?
Many hunters use corn to attract and hold deer on their property using the best deer feeder, either gravity or mechanical.
However, providing pelletized deer supplements requires additional design considerations to avoid clumping issues caused by moisture. In addition, corn and pellet feeders can be vulnerable to damage from hogs, raccoons, and squirrels. Therefore, the better feeders are heavy-duty, large-capacity models incorporating mechanisms to prevent varmints and moisture issues.
The easiest way to dispense corn is to pour it onto the ground, but raccoons will quickly find it and, if pigs are present in the vicinity, deer only get the leftovers. Another issue many don’t consider is the mold that can grow on the corn that’s left in contact with damp dirt.
Certain molds produce what is known as aflatoxins. The longer corn sits on the ground, the higher the level of detectable toxins. Wet corn in contact with dirt can grow dangerous levels of toxins in as little as 4-5 days. The issue seems more prevalent in warmer weather because tests conducted during winter months revealed only trace amounts.
These toxins can affect not only fawns and lactating does, but quail and turkey poults as well, so a big pile of corn on the ground may not be the best idea in the long run.
Best Deer Feeder – Gravity vs. Mechanical
Gravity deer feeders are the easiest to set up and use because there are no moving parts. Some use the term “free feeders” because feed is available 24/7 until it’s empty. One of their main problems is that often raccoons and pigs eat more than deer.
Mechanical deer feeders use a battery-powered motor to spin-cast or drop the feed into a tray. Some also utilize solar panels to ensure long battery life and can be programmed to adjust the timing and quantity dispensed. In addition, the better quality units provide multiple feed times and advertise their ability to thwart squirrels, coons, and hogs.
Some savvy landowners begin using protein feeders as soon as the rut is over. They knew those high-quality pellets supply the vital nutrients necessary to ensure healthy fawns and include the extra protein, minerals, and calcium for new antler growth.
Natural forage depends upon rain and good weather, which can often be unpredictable. Incorporating a supplemental feeding program to fill the gaps in available forage helps ensure year-round health. In addition, season-specific feed formulas can help with any crop issues that might arise through the growing season.
A well-researched supplemental feeding program allows landowners and managers to provide for the year-round nutritional needs of the deer on their property. However, many biologists recommend switching to corn after antlers have hardened and fawns begin to forage.
MB Ranch King Deer Feeders
With the climbing cost of a wildlife feeding program, it makes sense to figure out the most efficient and cost-effective means to provide supplemental feed to your deer. Points to consider when choosing a feeder are:
I talked with Kevin Kloda at Bruser Farms about feeders and what features to look for when deciding what type to purchase. Kloda helps manage Bruser Farms, a privately owned hunting preserve located southwest of Montgomery, Alabama. He said that Will Bruser had used MB Ranch King hunting blinds for years on the hunting property, so when Ranch King feeders became available, they naturally began using them.
Kloda described the design, quality, and operation of these feeders and why he considers them some of the best on the market.
“We sell the same feeders we use on our property,” he said. “So anyone can come by not only to examine the various models but see how they operate as well.”
I asked Kloda if I could speak to someone who had used Ranch King feeders on their property to discuss their real-world experiences with their feeders and he hooked me up with Jay Evers.
I spoke with Evers about the Ranch King feeders on his farm near Childersburg.
“I’ve got 13 feeders I use on 1,330 acres to supplement my field plantings, and they are solid well-built feeders,” Ever explained.
He has several 600-pound feeders that he said only needed filling every couple of months. He also described how easy they were to move by himself with his tractor and the benefit of being able to refill them from the ground.
Evers described how the lids are lockable and the mechanisms are tamper-proof. He also told me a story about customer service. He described a flood that covered one of his feeders and how one phone call brought a company rep to his farm to replace a couple of parts and get it back online.
“These feeders are built to last out of quality materials, and I’ve had no complaints,” Evers said.
MB Ranch King Corn Feeders For Deer
I talked with Kloda about feeders and what features to look for when deciding what type to purchase. Kloda said that Will Bruser had used MB Ranch King hunting blinds for years on the hunting property, so when Ranch King feeders became available, they naturally began using them.
Kloda attributes the toughness of these feeders to their all-welded steel construction combined with a great design. Ranch King currently offers three models of corn feeders. Two models have solar-powered batteries with programmable timers, and one attaches to the receiver hitch and drops or spin-casts corn with the wired remote.
Mighty Midget (Corn Feeder)
This model can fit in the bed of your truck and has a rigid steel frame with skids to facilitate easy positioning. In addition, it comes with a battery, solar panel, and a solid lid with shocks and is low enough to allow easy refills from the ground. Kloda said that another great feature is their patented feeder plate that stops raccoons and hogs from getting to the feed.
This model comes in 500 and 1,000-pound capacity with a 48″ fill height, patented Eliminator plate, timer, and remote control.
Mighty Buck (Corn Feeder)
This model uses heavy-duty welded steel for strength and durability. It fits in a standard truck bed and has a 52 inch fill height for easy refills without a ladder. The patented design of their Eliminator feed plate makes it hog and coon proof and it comes in 600 and a 1,000-pound capacity. It also includes the 12-volt solar panel, battery, and remote, and the heavy-duty lid has shocks for quiet, easy opening.
Road Midget (Corn Feeder)
This portable corn dispenser fits into your truck’s or UTV receiver hitch. It has an adjustable trailer-hitch adaptor for raising or lowering the unit and is built from heavy-duty steel to sit flat on the ground. It has handles and a large lid that opens 180 degrees and allows easy filling. The adjustable spin plate can drop corn downward or in any direction and includes a remote for easy operation while moving.
Another great option with this portable feeder is that it can double as a seed dispenser for planting.
MB Ranch King Protein Feeders
Mark Bogart designed his protein feeders with an exclusive Rain Guard to prevent moisture issues. These feeders drop the pellets into a protected four-sided feeding tray to keep them off the ground and avoid moisture issues, making them one of the best deer feeder options.
Mighty Buck (Protein Feeder)
This all-steel model comes in 700 or 1,500lb capacity with a step-up feature for easy refilling. It also has the patented Eliminator Feeder Plate, making it coon and hog-proof. The 16 gauge all-welded unit comes mounted on two-inch skid pipes for easy positioning and includes a battery, solar panel, and timer with feeding options up to six times a day.
Kloda mentioned that Bruser Farms includes the rain guard with every protein feeder.
Many biologists agree that supplying extra nutrition is the most cost-effective way to increase a property’s trophy potential. Providing nutrient-rich foods in the correct quantity at the right times, using the best deer feeder available, will put you on the path to a thriving wildlife feeding program. In addition, a successful feeding schedule will yield healthier deer herds and help produce quality bucks.