Setting out deer feed is a legitimate way to attract deer to an area. Depending on regulations, you may not be able to hunt deer while they are actively using feed you set out, but you can use a feeder as a scouting device to determine the size of herds and of the bucks that are in the general area where you plan to hunt. Feeders can also be used to attract deer to your hunting land for future hunts. The following are tips for getting the most out of your feeder.
Tip #1: Avoid open areas
Most deer avoid open areas simply because they are more exposed to predators. While an open meadow may seem perfect for spotting and hunting, your feeder may be ignored if the deer are particularly skittish. A better option is to place feeders on the periphery of open areas, where the verge trees provide the deer with the comfort of some cover but you still have a relatively clear view of the animals.
Tip #2: Scout out game trails
You can't attract deer to an area if they aren't there. If you are unsure where the deer are, then you must do some scouting. Fortunately, deer game trails are relatively easy to spot since they are typically littered with hoof prints and scat. Finding a water source and then tracing the trails from there to where they approach your chosen area can work well. Place feeders on or near game trails so that the deer find them quickly and become adjusted to using them.
Tip #3: Consider your cover
If you will be hunting with the help of a feeder, knowing where you can set up a successfully placed stand is imperative. This way you can place the feeder in the location where it is most likely to benefit you in the stand. You don't want to place the initial feeder too close to your ideal stand location, then move it later. The deer may sniff around your stand before seeking out the new location, which could result in spooking them from the area.
Tip #4: Move the feeder occasionally
There are two reasons to move your feeder. First and foremost, if you are attracting deer to a specific area where they weren't originally, you will need to gradually move the feeder into the area. Begin by placing it on a game trail where deer are active, then move it slowly closer to where you want the deer to be active. For feeders in ideal places, you may also want to move the feeder small distances occasionally. This can help prevent them from becoming spooked by predators in one location, then never returning again.
Tip #5: Automate your process
Finally, automate the process as much as possible. You can invest in an automatic deer feeder that only dispenses feed at ideal deer feeding times, for example. This saves feed since you won't be feeding all the woodland creatures. Game cameras are also a good automation choice, since these help you track deer activity at the feeder even when you can't be there.