Home General Hunting

Deer and Protein

Woodsrunner had educated us a lot about how deer can be attracted to minerals in their browse and how fertilizers can be used to add those minerals. 

Does anyone know of any studies, or have any first hand experience, with deer being attracted to or preferring higher protein foods over lower protein foods?

Replies

  • BodineBodine Posts: 3,020 Captain
    Not studies, but I have been running the hunting on a quality farm for over 20 years. Deer know what is the most palatable food for them at any given time. I have a fertilized oats plot adjacent to a soybean field, the deer ignore the oats until the soy beans are tilled under.
    Deer eat acorns until they are gone, then hit the food plots, and not until then. Here in N fl I dont plant until Nov, when most of the acorns are gone and the planted oats grow slower and stay tender longer due to the cool temps. My neighbors plant in Sept and their oats are over ankle high when I plant mine, deer prefer my young and tender growth.
    Not a study by a biologist, but one by experience.
    And yes, fertilized plots get more attention than those not.
    F the feds
  • Big MakBig Mak Posts: 3,389 Captain
    edited September 2019 #3
    While we are on the subject, where does cotton fit in for a deers diet? I know they will hang in it and nibble around in but on a preference scale, how does it fit?  I've hunted and killed deer in cotton fields, but I found out today the entire farm in SC was planted in cotton this year with the exception of a few fields of corn that have already been harvested and plowed under. What's my prognosis?
  • BodineBodine Posts: 3,020 Captain
    Green cotton is not a preferred food, as there are many other sources of protein at that time of year. However, cotton fields are excellent bedding areas before and after picking. After picking, deer will browse cotton seed, but it is not a preferred food source in the south. While picking is going on, acorns are still available.
    That being said, they will readily cross those fields and leave scrapes on the edges of them.
    Once the cotton is picked, broadcast some wheat seed on the ground in the productive corners of the field, the deer will come.
    F the feds
  • Florida BullfrogFlorida Bullfrog Posts: 3,181 Captain
    What I’m getting at is, do deer zero in on protein like they do minerals? Not really a question as to what food they prefer, but what nutritional value they prefer and whether specifically protein is one of those preferred nutritional values. 

    Acorns are high in fat and carbs but low in protein. Is it the fat and carbs preferable to them than protein?
  • zimmy4209zimmy4209 Ocala FloridaPosts: 987 Officer
    This is way above my pay grade but I think it would change throughout the year. It's no secret protein is good for a buck in velvet and for a doe when she's nursing a fawn or three but after that its survival till the next year.
    I was amazed at acorn crop last year never seen anything like it before. This year particularly where I hunt I'll bet only 1 out of every 4 or 5 oak trees I see no matter what type actually have acorns. Those trees that do drop them this year so far are getting cleaned up quick within a day by wildlife. But the ground is littered with ones from last year that are old and rotted that nothing wanted to eat it. Lots of protein in the growing months and switch to carbs for survival mode 
  • MRichardsonMRichardson Posts: 10,369 AG
    Woodsrunner had educated us a lot about how deer can be attracted to minerals in their browse and how fertilizers can be used to add those minerals. 

    Does anyone know of any studies, or have any first hand experience, with deer being attracted to or preferring higher protein foods over lower protein foods?
    I watched a key deer on Big Pine Key eat sizzling bacon right out of a cast iron skillet on a stove. The owner had ducked inside for a second and the deer ate every last slice.  

    So go with bacon if you want to attract deer.  Thick cut for the quality bucks.
    I have never seen live bones, but I know that they are often used by rich people to decorate the interior.
  • Walker DogWalker Dog Posts: 2,155 Captain
    Who doesn’t love bacon?
  • ShineShine Posts: 834 Officer
    Woodsrunner had educated us a lot about how deer can be attracted to minerals in their browse and how fertilizers can be used to add those minerals. 

    Does anyone know of any studies, or have any first hand experience, with deer being attracted to or preferring higher protein foods over lower protein foods?


    The answer is yes.  Protein is specific in a vegetarian diet and is in high quantities in a minority of plants.  They will look for and consume protein rich foods to "balance" their diet.  Interesting that corn is low in protein and even with an unlimited supply, deer will only take a maximum of about 60% of calories from corn.  Clover and other products have higher protein.  The products you pay high dollar for, like Acorn Rage and other granular attractants primarily contain rice brand which is a good source of fat an protein.  You can buy rice brand and put it out for pennies on the dollar compared to the "attractant" products -- often sold as a supplement in horse feed.

    Food plots put in simply to attract deer for hunting include things like ****, radishes, clover and chicory.  Planting cow peas (iron clay pea) is an excellent product because it is a "nitrogen fixer" and will cause the natural bourse around it to grow strong.  Another way is simply to mow an opening.  Sun light will do with work for you and much of the deer's favorite and natural food will sprout and, while simple, one of the best attractant methods I have seen.

    All that said, when you place food, you place human sent with it and deer are going to be weary of coming to these sources in daylight hours.  The best way to attract deer to a spot during hunting season is to stay out of that spot.  Don't track it with human scent and when you hunt it, attempt to come in down wind and minimize your tracts.  "never walk where deer walk."   This is critical if you are a bow hunter.  Gun guys can set up much further out and that is what you want to do.


    Adding year around proteins is most valuable in increasing rack size.  Year around food plots and supplemental protein feeding have been conclusively shown to increase rack size.  But, it is  constant work to make this a reality.


  • Big MakBig Mak Posts: 3,389 Captain
    Good info woodsrunner. Is there a particular time of season when protein is more sought out in a deers diet? I was always of the suspicion that protein bases were preferred during summer, while more carb loading took place starting about early fall. Is that true or just lore?
  • Sixth GenerationSixth Generation Posts: 349 Deckhand
    I have been putting out Big N J protein blocks for a couple years now.  They eat 2 of them every couple weeks.  I haven't seen a time when they slow down eating them during the year...  they do leave the corn once the acorns start falling though.
  • Florida BullfrogFlorida Bullfrog Posts: 3,181 Captain
    I have been putting out Big N J protein blocks for a couple years now.  They eat 2 of them every couple weeks.  I haven't seen a time when they slow down eating them during the year...  they do leave the corn once the acorns start falling though.
    So do they also leave your protein blocks when the acorns are falling?
  • micci_manmicci_man Somewhere in FLPosts: 14,472 AG
    Big Mak said:
    Good info woodsrunner. Is there a particular time of season when protein is more sought out in a deers diet? I was always of the suspicion that protein bases were preferred during summer, while more carb loading took place starting about early fall. Is that true or just lore?

    It's more valuable to a deer when its antlers are growing. Once they are hard, it won't increase antler size.
    Common Sense can't be bought, taught or gifted, yet it is one of the few things in life that is free, and most refuse to even attempt to possess it. - Miguel Cervantes
  • Sixth GenerationSixth Generation Posts: 349 Deckhand
    They may slow down a little during acorns dropping, but they still eat them, and do not leave them like they do corn.  I have 2 Moultrie feeders and basically turn them off when the acorns are dropping cause the corn just sits there.  I am going to change away from spin feeders and go gravity feeders.  I have a buddy that hunts fairly close to me.  His Dad put in a spin feeder at one of their stands.  They stopped seeing or getting as many bucks on camera.  He swapped it out and went back to gravity and the bucks showed back up more this year.
  • micci_manmicci_man Somewhere in FLPosts: 14,472 AG
    Big Mak said:
    Good info woodsrunner. Is there a particular time of season when protein is more sought out in a deers diet? I was always of the suspicion that protein bases were preferred during summer, while more carb loading took place starting about early fall. Is that true or just lore?

    It's more valuable to a deer when its antlers are growing.
    Common Sense can't be bought, taught or gifted, yet it is one of the few things in life that is free, and most refuse to even attempt to possess it. - Miguel Cervantes
  • MRichardsonMRichardson Posts: 10,369 AG

    I have never seen live bones, but I know that they are often used by rich people to decorate the interior.
  • Sixth GenerationSixth Generation Posts: 349 Deckhand
    I think having them there all year does benefit a bucks antler size.  I agree that once they go hard horn that is what they have to play with this season, but I feel keeping the blocks out all year helps them get through the season, rut, and winter better so that are in better shape next year...  
  • binellishtrbinellishtr Posts: 8,797 Admiral
    If U want good one's and you have the genetics in your woods to produce them by all means U need to keep the good stuff available year round.
  • binellishtrbinellishtr Posts: 8,797 Admiral
    I had to take a pic of this one we think we shinned this buck a day before the season he was fighting another deer in the field when we saw him.After he get shot and I took a look at his antlers he definitely had a hormone imbalance and loved a good fight . The deer above comes off a place that is 99% planted protein fields the one below comes off browse only property w planted corn near by. I've seen how protein and minerals develop a much healthier deer but u cant' make **** from shinola 

  • FloridaODFloridaOD Posts: 3,766 Captain
    edited September 2019 #21
    Evidence of Busch Light feeding apparatus in the truck bed.Good hunter attractant.
    Hunters are present yet relatively uncommon in Florida :wink
  • binellishtrbinellishtr Posts: 8,797 Admiral
    Our deer prefer it over bud light..midwest thing
  • Florida BullfrogFlorida Bullfrog Posts: 3,181 Captain
    What got me thinking about this was noticing how all of my livestock and pets prefer the highest protein foods offered to them and will pick out high protein feeds over low protein feeds when both are offered at the same time. 

    At any given time I may have the following protein percentages out at once: 16%, 18%, 20%, 24%, 30%, and 32%, in various poultry, fish, and dog feeds given to specific animals or flocks during feed times once or twice a day. All of the animals run to whatever foods have the highest protein levels even if that means leaving their own feed station and invading another 100 yards away. 

    32% catfish food is the favorite of every animal on the farm, followed by the 30% dogfood and on down the list.  
  • Big MakBig Mak Posts: 3,389 Captain
    What got me thinking about this was noticing how all of my livestock and pets prefer the highest protein foods offered to them and will pick out high protein feeds over low protein feeds when both are offered at the same time. 

    At any given time I may have the following protein percentages out at once: 16%, 18%, 20%, 24%, 30%, and 32%, in various poultry, fish, and dog feeds given to specific animals or flocks during feed times once or twice a day. All of the animals run to whatever foods have the highest protein levels even if that means leaving their own feed station and invading another 100 yards away. 

    32% catfish food is the favorite of every animal on the farm, followed by the 30% dogfood and on down the list.  
    The Squad and their lemmings should take note.
Sign In or Register to comment.