By David Tuma
This upcoming deer season should be a record one for Central Texas. We are three years past two hard drought years. This year in terms of rain 2016 was a record one. It was cool for half of the summer months. There was never a time of drought. This puts less stress on the deer and provides food during the rugged Texas summer months. It also means more acorns. Anybody who has been through a record year in terms of acorns knows how tough that can be.
“Those 2011-12 years were drought years. Nutritionally they were horrible years for the deer. Many had stunted growth. Three years in a row we have had the rains we needed to provide food for the deer population. Last year during our buck contest we had a 10 inch increase on average for bucks we measured,” said Adam Lucksinger, Manager of Belton Feed and Supply.
In 2014 they measured 12 bucks above 150 total inches for their Venado Grande Deer Contest. This was way above 2013. In 2015 they measured 12 bucks above 160 total inches. “Corn prices should be down this year so hunters can throw out more corn. The deer we measured last year were heavier. It should be a good year,” said Lucksinger.
The time to start putting out protein is January through September. It needs to be available 24 hours a day. The reason you might want to consider pulling back on the 24 hours a day is to slow down the bucks feeding at night. “It has been my experience that deer prefer protein over corn. You feed 24 hours so that at no point do the deer get run down. Some hunters feed 24 hours during hunting season to hold their deer on their area,” said Lucksinger.
Lucksinger also added that it might be advisable to feed around midnight to try to keep the deer close to where you hunt. Feeding times vary for different spots. If you have hogs, throwing corn out early is a good way to feed the hogs. In the afternoons you need the feeder to go off after things have settled down after you get into the stand. It doesn’t always work that way with any type of fishing trip or hunting trip.
Historically in this area food plots are put out in early September. Some hunters have been putting out the feed plots in early October in order to avoid army worms. In Bell County oats by far are the most used. Oats require less moisture. Many hunters mix it with clover, peas and greens.
“Deer do like food plots. Usually we see around 90 percent oats and ten percent of another type of food source. We are seeing more ground feeders without ladders. The new spinner plats are varmint fee. They also keep most moisture out of the storage area. If you are mixing in protein this helps the feeder from becoming clogged. We had enough rain early in the year to carry us over through the dry months. It should be a good year,” said Lucksinger.