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Hi everyone;
I know some of our site members are against feeding deer in winter but as most of you know, I am a staunch proponent of doing so and my family and I have done so for the past fifteen winters and counting. We have seen the results of our winter feeding program translate into healthy does carrying and birthing from one to three fawns and in the bucks growing big racks of antlers. Feeding the deer here back of our house and lodge has given me lots of opportunity to observe the animals and a few photo ops as well. We always start our feed program slowly, in November and carry it thru to mid-April or later, dependent on what we get for a winter. We've had an excellent winter here in my part of southwestern NB right up to a couple of weeks ago. No severe cold snaps or heavy snows. Still, we've got six weeks or more to put up with yet. After this last storm on the weekend, we have 17 inches on average in the woods here and 22-24 inches in the open areas fields and on the powerlines,(measured today in several areas). That is bordering on "hard times" for the deer, especially in areas where there are no existing food programs in or near the communities.It is especially crucial at this time of the year to continue "feed" programs using "high protein" grain foods. We feed the deer here whole oats, mollasses and high protein dairy ration and they do exceptionally well. We started the season with four deer visiting nightly and now are up to eighteen or twenty and they range in size from small, late fawns to big old raunchy bucks visiting at various times of the day and night...and they will all come thru the winter well
In a sense,despite it being a bit expensive to do, they do as much for me as I do for them because when it is snowing and blowing outside, I can sit inside and watch those critters as they come and go from our feeders...I never tire of watching these beautiful animals and I can dream of hunting one of those big old bucks come the bext deer season.I am including a few photos from "my back yard". Ray
 

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Whats it cost ya for a winter on average??
 

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Pred 1, ever see much in the way of road kill near your place during the winter? Just curious. I know that there are yards quite a distance in behind your place, but do they ever cross the road in front of the house to come to the feed?

I just think that one should caution others that you can't feed deer just any place. I was watching deer die in 2008 (big snow year) due to backyard feeding from various neighbours. There wasn't any real cover and the deer were exhausting themselves getting from feeder to feeder in the deep snow. They basically started to yard closer to the houses then most of the deer normally would because of the feed. There were 4 or 5 car accidents that winter on 2 km of road as well because of the deer running back and forth to the different properties. I know at least 3 deer died in backyards from exhaustion. I just wanted to caution others that this isn't something you do everywhere and in some cases you need to look at the big picture of yards and travel routes to see if you are doing more harm than good.
 

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hey Wonsky...
Last few years the cost had been rising...to eventually total around sixteen hundred dollars/winter. My wife wasn't real thrilled about that...nor was I so I started looking at feed alternatives and switched the follwoing fall to whole oats...much cheaper and just as nutritious for them. Last winter, it cost us nine hundred dollars. I have found farmers who will sell me oats for less/bag yet and this year, expect to spend between five and six hundred on them.
 

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hi W-R...
You bring up a very good point and I have actually written articles and columns in that regard...cautioning people who mean well but don't consider where they are establishing feed areas. No, we have never had any animals killed here in our area on Rte. 616...during the winter months...although I know that a few of the critters do cross the roads on occasion because I've seen them do it. Actually, I know only of two deer ever hit in our area and one was in july, a small yearling, and the other a beautiful buck in late September. The critters do wonder up in around our front and back lawns on occasion but they have beaten trails out in back of our place for miles...to the headpond and beyond. But as you mentioned, such feeding programs should not be undertaken lightly and never in areas where they could be killed by cars...or poachers...or predators whether coyotes or neighborhood dogs and if you are going to feed them, you need to feeed them from late fall right on thru to mid April or beyond..high protein grains and such. If you can't afford to do it or aren't fully committed...don't do it! Ray
 

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hey Wonsky...
Last few years the cost had been rising...to eventually total around sixteen hundred dollars/winter. My wife wasn't real thrilled about that...nor was I so I started looking at feed alternatives and switched the follwoing fall to whole oats...much cheaper and just as nutritious for them. Last winter, it cost us nine hundred dollars. I have found farmers who will sell me oats for less/bag yet and this year, expect to spend between five and six hundred on them.
Just an observation but if you are going to buy farm whole oats you should inquire if the farmer might roll the oats for you , even though the oats are high in energy it is not as availible to the deer as the prepaired feeds . Rolling it will help keep your feed $$$ from going right through them.
 

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I do the same and I'm committed right to the end. Now that we have more snow as of late I may get some more deer. Right now I have 6 different bucks coming in. Last year at this time I had 21 bucks. I have around a dozen does as well. All fawns are does. I had one buck fawn I seen in December but not since. Now I gotta go cut some firewood to help them through as well.
 

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I find it funny how we all get Sooo bent out of shape when a deer yard is cut. Doesn't that just drive you through the roof? Deer develop a pattern and come to the same deeryard - year after year, teach the young ones where to migrate to each fall - and then someone fires up a processor and mows it to the ground.

Now I may be mistaken, but I think that get's any die-hard hunter's blood boiling pretty quickly. I've heard many rant and rave about this type of catastrophy. Usually they follow up the rant with "Whose going to tell the deer next winter that the yard is gone??!!" Deer show up - but it's all gone.

In a similar vein....I assume unless you're Methusela, that you're not going to live forever. If you're feeding artificial feed....whose going to e-mail your deer herd and tell them " hey herd....predator one is broke, in hospital, dead....whatever) and can no longer feed you........

No one ever thinks of this....just "next fall's deer".
 

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I find it funny how we all get Sooo bent out of shape when a deer yard is cut. Doesn't that just drive you through the roof? Deer develop a pattern and come to the same deeryard - year after year, teach the young ones where to migrate to each fall - and then someone fires up a processor and mows it to the ground.

Now I may be mistaken, but I think that get's any die-hard hunter's blood boiling pretty quickly. I've heard many rant and rave about this type of catastrophy. Usually they follow up the rant with "Whose going to tell the deer next winter that the yard is gone??!!" Deer show up - but it's all gone.

In a similar vein....I assume unless you're Methusela, that you're not going to live forever. If you're feeding artificial feed....whose going to e-mail your deer herd and tell them " hey herd....predator one is broke, in hospital, dead....whatever) and can no longer feed you........

No one ever thinks of this....just "next fall's deer".
I was waiting for you to chime in..
I stopped feeding two weeks ago and was struggling with the dilemma you just mentioned.
 

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I find it funny how we all get Sooo bent out of shape when a deer yard is cut. Doesn't that just drive you through the roof? Deer develop a pattern and come to the same deeryard - year after year, teach the young ones where to migrate to each fall - and then someone fires up a processor and mows it to the ground.

Now I may be mistaken, but I think that get's any die-hard hunter's blood boiling pretty quickly. I've heard many rant and rave about this type of catastrophy. Usually they follow up the rant with "Whose going to tell the deer next winter that the yard is gone??!!" Deer show up - but it's all gone.

In a similar vein....I assume unless you're Methusela, that you're not going to live forever. If you're feeding artificial feed....whose going to e-mail your deer herd and tell them " hey herd....predator one is broke, in hospital, dead....whatever) and can no longer feed you........

No one ever thinks of this....just "next fall's deer".
Great point I was thinking the same thing.
 

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I find it funny how we all get Sooo bent out of shape when a deer yard is cut. Doesn't that just drive you through the roof? Deer develop a pattern and come to the same deeryard - year after year, teach the young ones where to migrate to each fall - and then someone fires up a processor and mows it to the ground.

Now I may be mistaken, but I think that get's any die-hard hunter's blood boiling pretty quickly. I've heard many rant and rave about this type of catastrophy. Usually they follow up the rant with "Whose going to tell the deer next winter that the yard is gone??!!" Deer show up - but it's all gone.

In a similar vein....I assume unless you're Methusela, that you're not going to live forever. If you're feeding artificial feed....whose going to e-mail your deer herd and tell them " hey herd....predator one is broke, in hospital, dead....whatever) and can no longer feed you........

No one ever thinks of this....just "next fall's deer".
Im certain we would all like to see the old days of deer totaly wild and uninfluenced by man . But lets be honest here , we have forever changed the natural landscape through human activities . And it ain't ever going back to the way it once was . That being said everyone can see how the deer herd is doing very poorly in many areas and while there may be some definite negatives to feeding deer it goes without saying that there can be some tremendous positives . All the parts of the province that has the better deer numbers has some type of artificial helper ,be it intended or not .Some places benifit from the ag crops / municipal non hunting areas / apple orchards / private land owner eforts to increase wildlife habitat . Then there are direct efforts being made by well meaning nature lovers and hunters /outfiters to boost there local populations . To say that because that the efort may not continue beyond someones death therefore you should not try now is a little much I think . All eforts be it feeding deer/food plots/improved private land habitat/is only there for as long as the land owner / feeder is of that desire . you could have the nicest litle natural woodlot habitat but if your kids (heirs) sell it , all the benifits will go to when it gets clear cut . I say lets do our best . The only long term benifits would have to come through public land improvements , and there may not be any deer left if the day ever comes that the public policy makers give it any serious atention.
 

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Im certain we would all like to see the old days of deer totaly wild and uninfluenced by man . But lets be honest here , we have forever changed the natural landscape through human activities . And it ain't ever going back to the way it once was . That being said everyone can see how the deer herd is doing very poorly in many areas and while there may be some definite negatives to feeding deer it goes without saying that there can be some tremendous positives . All the parts of the province that has the better deer numbers has some type of artificial helper ,be it intended or not .Some places benifit from the ag crops / municipal non hunting areas / apple orchards / private land owner eforts to increase wildlife habitat . Then there are direct efforts being made by well meaning nature lovers and hunters /outfiters to boost there local populations . To say that because that the efort may not continue beyond someones death therefore you should not try now is a little much I think . All eforts be it feeding deer/food plots/improved private land habitat/is only there for as long as the land owner / feeder is of that desire . you could have the nicest litle natural woodlot habitat but if your kids (heirs) sell it , all the benifits will go to when it gets clear cut . I say lets do our best . The only long term benifits would have to come through public land improvements , and there may not be any deer left if the day ever comes that the public policy makers give it any serious atention.
I'm not gonna say yeah or nay on a feeding program but I think you are talking about a couple different things. On one count you have a feeding program which is keeping deer from a natural wintering area or encouraging others to come to an area where conditions are not adequate for deer to survive a winter without the feeding program. Over time you condition those deer to that area with does teaching offspring to winter there. When and if the food supply dries up, then the deer will continue to come to that area. They will stay in the area which is unsuitable habitat for wintering and they will die.
The food plots and habitat improved areas don't keep them from going to their wintering area. They provide food usually during spring, summer and fall and the deer vacate to their natural wintering areas when the snow depth dictates. .
A similar situation to the feeding would be if you planted several acres of corn, enough to persist late into winter/spring keeping deer on the property without an adequate wintering area in close proximity. Do that a few years in a row and you'll have the same issues.

To my understanding, if Natural Resources Departments do winter feeding programs they are done in wintering areas to prevent just that type of situation.
 

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Axeman,

Well, I 'm amazed too…at how some people have tunnel vision …their way is the only way and their opinions are the only ones that count. What is worse… because of where they work, they feel they have to go along with the "status Quo" and support cutting down all of our forests and deer yards…without even considering that there might be better ways to use the forests to create jobs while protecting at least some of our woodlands…and the animals that live there. I'm not saying we need to shut down the forest industry. People need to work…but maybe we can co-exist? I do get upset by the slash and burn mentality in this province. We flatten our forests and force the deer to seek what little shelter and food they can find closer to our rural communities in winter. And no, I don't plan to live forever…but so long as I do and I can …I'll do whatever I can to bring a few deer thru the winters. Now, to compare a winter deer feeding program with the reaction hunters have when they see deer yards decimated is ridiculous! Actually, it should fall on the shoulders of those who cut down and destroy our forests to maintain/replace the food and shelter for the animals and then we hunters wouldn't need to do it! Surely you don't believe that I enjoy spending my money and taking the time to do a winter feeding program…but I firmly believe it is far better than doing nothing…letting "nature take its course" after we have totally altered/interfered with nature and the deer's habitat! And you know, it may be necessary for some members on this site to keep a low, inconspicuous profile for fear of "employment repercussions"…if so, I can understand their fears and sympathize…but to actively support the forest industry " slash and burn" mentality by attempting to discredit winter feeding programs is utterly shameful! As for deer staying in an area where they once had food but have no food now... until they starve to death...I would like to see an example of that. The deer are constantly shifting and adapting to find food and cover. Just visit a section of woods or a deer yard where there were once numerous deer but no more. Once the food and cover are gone, they move to where they will get food and shelter and that is perhaps one of the best reasons we still have deer in our province. One last thing, I know I'm not Methuselah but…in our community, we still have some woods to protect the deer and we have caring individuals who feed the deer.They know...first hand the benefits of feeding the deer... seen in healthy animals that are full of energy, does that bith healthy fawns, sometimes twins or triplets and bucks that carry big heavy racks...and they see it in deer numbers! As for me...when the good Lord calls my name...I'm sure there will be lots of hunters here who will more than compensate for what I can no longer do... when I'm gone! So perhaps you can "e-mail" that to the deer…R...Axeman! Have a great day ! Ray
 

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Hmmm. Not sure really where to start on that post predator...... so much misinformation, a few misplaced conjectures, assumptions that are outright false.

I think I'll just leave that one alone. You can judge a man's actions - but his heart and motivations? Unless you are the Almighty - I'd leave those to him....as well as identities. You do much better when you prepare responses rather than firing from the hip.

 

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Actually Rod,I thought Ray's response to your first post on the subject was quite well prepared. Ray,have a beer and kiss the Blarney Stone,your Irish is showing!
 

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Actually Rod,I thought Ray's response to your first post on the subject was quite well prepared. Ray,have a beer and kiss the Blarney Stone,your Irish is showing!
X2 riverboy
Hey Axman I wonder how the miles of fencing between PETTY AND EDMONSTON has affected the deer's winter travel and feeding. Probably a little more than a few kind soles feeding the poor bastards.
 

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Well....I as well do not want to take a definite "yes/no" stance on the winter deer feeding issue. I can only say that I have done it in the past but gave it up for several reasons. Expense is pretty much the main reason. It was costing me on average about $100/$200 a month. I really did enjoy watching and filming the deer for sure, and do miss it. But, I found I much more enjoyed putting that $$ into more archery gear instead.

I had as many as 31 deer coming one year all at once. The amount of beef finisher/rolled oats and molasses/cracked corn that I was feeding would not amount to very much per deer. (not much more than a handful or two) So they had to depend on traveling to their cedar thickets for the balance of their winter forage. Those areas used to be pretty close to my place, but in recent years have shrunken considerably or matured out of reach of the deer. The deer have had to cross a nearby road to get to more of the same areas. This would be anywhere from 500 yards or more away. They were staying fairly close to my home when I was feeding them, and I was always worried that if the snow got too deep, they might become isolated from those areas. Or expend too much energy to get there. They would then be dependant on my feed only.

It was my experience that grain may not necessarily be the best winter food source for deer as well. I think it passes through the deer digestive system too quickly. It is my understanding that a deer's system slows down in winter. This is so they can get the nutrients from such wild fodder such as cedar boughs, and tree lichen ( old mans beard) etc. If the grain is passing through quickly, then the other food may be doing so as well. I remember walking my deer trails, and seeing a steady trail of deer droppings that clearly showed some of them were getting diarrhea symptoms from my feed. Perhaps they "were" getting enough nutrients from it. And they certainly did looked fat and healthy.

But I don't think that it is so much a question of to feed deer or not. (providing they get enough to eat that is) But is more importantly a question of the "type" of food supplement to provided.

I think that a more appropriate winter feed, would be baled alfalfa or clover. I always thought of trying them instead, but just never did. They have many advantages over grain. It is something that that most agricultural area deer feed on normally in fall. So the bacteria needed to help digest it are more apt to be already present in the deer's system. Especially if you start fairly early in December. It is just about the best protein you can give a deer anytime. And deer will only eat what they need to fill themselves up.

I found that with grain (especially molasses coated)some of my deer would try to eat as much as they could. Actually fighting over it amongst themselves. This was of course in part because there was never enough to go around. And is kind of like "candy" to a deer. Alfalfa would also be a lot cheaper based on the amount eaten verses $$$ cost. The real trick here is to make sure that the deer have access to a water source close by. This may involve setting up a drinking station as well. I know that I also often worried about my deer getting water in winter. There are a few brooks behind my place, but when snow is deep they can get pretty much buried, and frozen over as well. When deer are feeding on natural browse like cedar there is of course moisture in it. I assume that deer "will" eat snow, although I never saw them doing it. But alfalfa would require a good "quick" drink afterwards I would imagine. If I ever do indeed start feeding again, this is what I will be trying.

I'm not trying to judge your actions "Cousin" Ray, these are just a few of my own views based on my observations. Enjoy watching those deer! …. archerynutNB
 

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"Deer depend on a variety of bacteria and microorganisms
in their rumen (stomach) to break down their food. A
change in diet requires a change in the population of these
microorganisms to process the new food properly.
Some kinds of food are not be easily adapted by deer. Protein,
energy, fiber type and digestibility are all important. When
deer have had reduced intake because of low food supplies (a
starving condition lasting greater than 7 days) rumen activity
declines and fermentation of fiber decreases.
The fiber type in alfalfa cannot be readily broken down and it
impacts in the reticulorumen of starving deer, dooming them
to continued starvation. Although deer regularly fed alfalfa
show fewer problems, the possibility of deer in a "starving
condition" moving in to the feeding area and consuming the
alfalfa is a definite risk. Thus, we should be extremely cautious
about some feed types such as alfalfa or hay since it can
be very dangerous in certain circumstances. The low fiber
levels in pellets and grain avoid this problem.
Pure corn can also cause problems since it is very high in
starch (likewise for pure barley and wheat). The sudden intake
of corn causes a starch overload. This creates ideal conditions
for the growth of bacteria (e.g., clostridium). Associated with
this are over-feeding diseases. Deer suddenly presented with
an abundant food supply such as cereal grains can develop
acidosis (excess acid buildup) which can lead to rumenitis
(bacterial infections in lesions developed from acidosis). The
development of scours (diarrhea) is another serious problem.
Loss of microfauna in the rumen during low intake periods
means that deer are quite sensitive to digestive upset. The
scours can be the last blow to an already compromised deer
whose natural food intake has been reduced with a decline in
rumen activity. The problem of scours is likely with a sudden
change of diet, especially from a high fiber to low fiber or vice
versa.. Thus, a change from twigs, to grain to alfalfa can cause
a variety of digestive problems.

Taken from ...CLICK HERE
 

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KPR, Very interesting info. Years ago I heard of deer being fed "hay" in remote areas dying from it. And I can understand this. That stuff is even difficult for a horse or cow to digest or get any nutrients out of. But I just assumed that "fresh fall" cut "dried" alfalfa (which local deer were feeding on in fall anyway) would be ok. As long as it is started well before they get into a starving condiiton that is. Perhaps I am wrong on this though??
 

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Well guys and gals...
It is easily seen that despite the other game we have to hunt in this province, deer are very close to the hearts and minds of most hunters as is their welfare in winter. My initial post regarding feeding the deer in winter wasn't meant to incite others to feed them although in carefully selected areas... free from hazards for them, I strongly believe it can only help bring them thru. Cousin Carl,you are a knowledgeable, good hunter and I take no offense in your observations. We have readily available water and of course, winter cover right there. I have not run into "scours" with the deer being fed here over the past fifteen years, as noted by "back tracking" the animals to see how far they have come to visit. Deer droppings have remained "pelletized"in the same manner as it does when they are fully on winter browse and only when the greenery of springtime becomes available does their droppings soften up into flat gooey piles. It is or can be an expensive proposition at times if you can't get a bargain on the grain and I certainly don't blame you or any one for using that money for archery equipment, hunting trips or whatever. I have my eye on a new shotgun this year...if the deer feed budget doesn't over run and a wild turkey hunt in Vermont is in order as well! To all who have participated in this thread...including your "two cents worth", "Axeman" I appreciate your input and observations and...as I first stated, I am not on a "feed the deer in winter" campaign. We have a safe, ideal location here for winter feeding programs as do many of my friends and acquaintances in our community.Our observations demonstrate the obvious benefits of such programs and these observations are first hand...out in the woods, not gleaned from a book or at an office behind a desk. You can say they are conjecture" or assumptions" if you like but they are not "false" or "misinformations"! For the past fifteen winters, the consumptive hunters and non-consumptive photographers/observers in our area have enjoyed the benefits of having a stable, healthy deer population here so we will continue to feed the deer. When springtime comes,they all go back to their summer grounds...sometimes five to ten miles away and posssibly further. They will still be wild animals and as challenging to hunt as the rest of their kind...maybe even a bit more challenging since theey have enjoyed the benefits of what we do in winter! Thanks again, people for your input and R-B...I guess my Irish may have been showing...we're from County Meath on the Emerald Isle...and that cold beer and a nice steak from a fat "winter fed" deer would go great right now, especially with St. Patty"s day on the horizon next month! "Top 'O" the mornin' to Y'all! Ray
 
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