Supplemental Deer Feeding in the Ozarks

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I live in the Midwest down by Branson, Missouri. I am not a landowner so therefore I cannot put out a food plot. I hunt by permission only on several large hardwood acreages. I want to nurture some whitetail herds on a property that I hunt. Is there a trace mineral supplement for antler growth and herd health that I can buy for my herd? I passively feed corn in the off season but they compete with turkey and squirrels and other birds for the corn. What do you recommend? Or, is there a protein supplement you might recommend?

Kurt (Missouri)


I grew up in the area and hunted on land owned by others, so I relate to your situation. I currently live near Branson and know the low quality nutritional forage available on tracts that are primarily hardwood forest.

I use Trophy Rock to provide deer on my property trace minerals. This is an important part of my overall herd management plan. It’s important to state that a good mineral program by itself can’t compensate for a lack of quality forage. If this was the case, we could solve world hunger by providing vitamin/mineral tablets.

There are other steps you can take that, along with minerals, will help improve the herd quality where you hunt. Short of writing an entire management plan, the following are brief guidelines that should be considered…

First, work toward balancing the herd’s density with the habitat’s capacity to produce quality forage. The simplest method to achieve this is to reduce the herd’s density by harvesting does. Some hunters, especially in areas dominated by hardwoods, don’t like this method because the resulting deer herd density can be so low that they rarely observe deer. The quality/quantity trade-off is one to consider thoroughly before implementing. This trade-off is much easier in areas with grain production as the deer density can be much higher while still providing access to ample quality food.

Next, insure bucks are being allowed to reach maturity. Remember that age is strongly correlated to antler size. No matter how much quality food a yearly buck eats, he’s still a yearling buck. He may be a great yearling, but he won’t produce his best antlers until he’s much more mature. Passing young bucks or “trigger finger management” is critical to meeting your objective of hunting bucks with larger antlers.

Just beginning a supplemental feeding program will not compensate for too many deer (remember that each deer consumes a ton or more annually) or lack of buck age structure in the local herd. To produce and harvest mature bucks on a sustained basis requires ample quality forage available to bucks that reach a mature age. This can be accomplished anywhere, but it certainly requires more resources in some areas compared to others.

Growing Deer together,