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What is the Best Time to Set an Automatic Deer Feeder?

Best Time to Set Automatic Deer Feeders
Written by Marc Niad
Last Update: August 11, 2023

Feeders for deer are one of the most effective tools for getting close to the wary animal.

You can observe deer’s habits, snap pictures, or even shoot a deer using deer feeders, no matter how experienced you are as a hunter, photographer, or nature lover.

But what is the best time to set up automatic deer feeders? That’s what we’re exploring today!

Feeders can be useful tools even though they aren’t legal in every state.

However, they must be used correctly. Placement and timing of deer feeders are important, and much depends on your deer herd and habitat.

We will discuss some of those factors, along with a few deer feeder tips, in this guide.

What Is the Best Time to Set An Automatic Deer Feeder Up?

best time to set up automatic deer feeders

Set the time for daybreak

It’s difficult to predict what a deer will do at any given moment. If you set your feeder for 3 hours after dawn, the deer might show up 3 hours later.

Consistency is key. Set the feeder to go off later if the deer come out late. Otherwise, it’ll be a feast for the squirrels and birds otherwise.

Set the timer for the first light and adjust it periodically

I work to set the automatic feeders to start at the first light and then adjust them periodically through the season.

I will set the second feeding to go off about 2.5 hours before darkness hits.

Use location to set feeders

Putting them in the right place is the key to effectiveness. A flat surface is ideal. The best place for them is somewhere that can be reached by foot or by car.

So, corn should be placed in or near areas that are close to locations where whitetail deer feel relatively secure.

It is best not to place feeders near country roads where it is easy for poachers to drive by.

Add 10 minutes to the morning twilight time

It is a good idea to allow another 10 mins in the am twilight in case it happens to be overcast. Then aim for 2 hours before sunset.

Serious everyday deer feeding strategy

I have scouted whitetails across 25 states and noticed that there are main priority feeding slots that you need to watch during the day and the evening.

But why?

The deer herds that I’ve observed in the whitetail world tend to relate to parcels only as nocturnal or daylight parcels.

The vast majority of all parcels are nocturnal parcels.

A few of them are the best-developed parcels of land with the highest rates of nighttime attractions.

Focusing on afternoon and daytime feedings has a number of advantages

Social but safe nighttime feeding opportunities

Although deer herds often consume large amounts of food at night, is what they eat at night actually that important?

I believe so even if it is evident that night-time deer herds can’t be attracted, molded, protected, or hunted.

During the night, deer seek out safe areas, social areas, and places where they can eat.

A nearby golf course, an adjacent farm field, and ornamental shrubbery all provide sources of night-time food.

In the 24-hr clock of whitetail feedings, 2 out of 5 feedings are made at night.

During this time period, it is very important to be aware of whether you are feeding a great deal of deer.

Daytime herd feeding

You’re in charge of two-thirds of the animal feeding puzzle just by owning the best local browse.

High-quality feeding opportunities can be created by woody plant and shrub tips, hardwood regeneration, briars, and weeds.

Deer can use these for bedding during the day. Deer need to eat enough browse twice a day in their daylight bedding areas.

But if you fail to successfully have these animals on your land with only quality browse and a poor afternoon or early evening food source, you may be left wondering why there are no deer staying on the land.

During the spring add a late feed time

Adding in an extra late feed time during the spring weather, particularly for the fawns and does to feed.

Deer Feeder

Set the timer an hour before legal shooting to avoid birds and squirrels

Birds, squirrels, and turkeys commonly eat all of the morning corn.

The deer come down to my farm in the evening most of the time. I prefer to set it an hour before the legal hunting light begins.

Deer Feeder Tips and Tricks

Keep an eye on your feed type

It’s an energy-rich food like corn that can keep deer warm in the winter.

If a high-quality protein diet is provided in summer and spring when antlers and immature fawns are developing, herds will be healthier and antlers will be enhanced.

Deer Feed Type

Create the right environment if you can’t hunt over bait

While hunting over deer bait is not legal in all states, you can still use feeders to keep deer on your property.

If you live in an area where it is allowed, you can also use this to provide protein feed during the warmer months.

It is possible that the deer will come back to the spot even after the food has been removed.

Mineral attractants can be placed nearby

Deer are attracted to the smell and taste of mineral-rich foods so you can increase the number of deer in your feeding area.

Consider multi-feed sites

On a single property, it is easy to run multiple feeders.

It will be easier to attract deer to your property and you will be able to improve your hunting opportunities if you place a feeder every 50 to 100 acres.

Let the deer feeder work over time

Get the deer accustomed to the feeder in the first few weeks. They will regularly return to the site if you spread feed around it.

Learn more with a trail camera

Learn more about deer with a trail cameraAn outdoor trail camera can help you learn about the behavior and movements of deer in their natural habitat as well as take photos of them.

Once you know when the deer reach the feeder, you can identify them.

Learn more deer with a trail camera

Set the deer feeders at times when the deer aren’t active

You should set up your first deer feeder at midday when the deer are less active. The new feeder will be less likely to spook them this way.

Deer Feeders should spin for over five seconds

Consider a shorter time between feed and dispensing.

Five seconds is ideal. As the deer become accustomed to it and start to feed more often, you can gradually increase this.

About the author

Marc Niad

It’s been several years that Marc, a retired teacher and a proud dad, has silently been piling up mature bucks down the South. This humble hunter began his hunting journey at quite an early age and since then, he spent countless hours in the woods and learned good lessons in terms of woodsmanship. Along the way, he also made money sharing his skill with his followers and well-wishers.

The Ranger Expert is the brainchild of this veteran hunter who loves hunting the swamps and the hills around the Mississippi and Homochitto rivers. His most favorite hunting technique is taking his climbing gear and going to the top of pines with a 25.06 – the old-fashioned way!

He gets most of his games during late December through mid-January – his favorite hunting time. Marc strongly believes that hard work, passion, and a bit of luck can bring you success in the wild.

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