Are food plots better for whitetails than supplemental feed?

By GrowingDeer,

  Filed under: , ,

← Grant's AnswersAsk Grant


Dear Doc,

I hunt 550 acres under high fence near Selma, Alabama.  We have approximately 50 acres of fields and a good mixture of CRP, select cut, clear cut, and creek bottoms.  This year we planted 20 acres of Eagle Beans and corn and have had great success.  We still have tons and tons of forage, corn, and pods.  We also supplemental feed in feeders and troughs in the off-season (Feb – Sept).  My concern is whether or not I am wasting my time and money putting out protein.  The deer do eat it but not nearly as much now with the beans/corn.  We are planting 10 acres in chicory/clover, 18 acres in triticale, oats, radishes, and leaving two big fields (10 acres each) in standing corn and beans (fields are well-spaced throughout the property).  The deer have not even come close to eating all of the corn/beans and I expect lots of food all the way through January.  Is the protein beneficial or a waste of time?

Next spring, we will be adding two additional Eagle Bean fields (one 5 acres and one 3 acres).  The main reason for doing this is to have them strategically located so the deer don’t have to travel too far in the summer heat to access the big fields.  The buck:doe ratio is about 2.5:1 and we are not close to the carrying capacity of the property.  Thanks for the help and I look forward to your response.



It sounds as if you have a very intensive deer management program!  Most supplemental feeds are based on corn and soybeans with some molasses, etc., added to attract deer.  It’s usually much less expensive to grow corn and soybeans compared to paying for someone else to grow, harvest, process, bag, ship, and retail the grains.  In addition, it’s healthier for the deer to feed throughout a field versus several deer feeding out of the same feeder.  Encouraging deer to feed in close proximity day after day results in social stress among the herd in addition to increasing the odds of one sick deer passing an illness to other deer.

Supplemental feeding can be performed with minimal risk to a deer herd.  However, it requires the feeders being moved frequently and disinfected.  I’d much rather grow the feed on site and allow the deer to consume it in the field than pour it out of a bag.

Another consideration is that non-target critters like raccoons can consume huge amounts of supplemental feed.  This is an added expense in multiple ways.  Not only does this increase the amount of feed that is purchased it also allows predators to easily pattern both deer and turkey.

I don’t supplemental feed at The Proving Grounds for the above reasons and am well satisfied with the results.  I’d much rather create a few more acres of feeding plots than pay for a supplemental feeding program.  A final consideration is that most folks would rather observe deer in a feeding plot than at a feeder.

Growing Deer together,