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Disclaimer: It is necessary that we preface this article by recognizing that various states have legislation in place concerning hunting with/over deer feeders.  

We strongly recommend that you read your state’s laws and understand whether your strategies are lawful. Compilation of deer feeding regulations (all 50 states).

The placement of a deer feeder requires more than your intuition. Simply positioning a feeder in a populated deer habitat cannot guarantee that deer will make repeated visits to the feeder (or any at all, for that matter). 

To get the most out of your feeder, it is necessary that you examine the terrain you wish to place your feeder on and devise a rational strategy. 

Observing their behavior in addition to how the deer occupy and engage the land will be especially useful.

A further important factor at play is the deer feeder spacing when using multiple feeders and ensuring they are placed in ideal locations. 

Important Distinction - Centerpiece or Supplement

While deer feeders are expected to entice deer, the feeder itself should not be the main attraction for deer. 

The centerpiece of the land should be the overall ecosystem. The environment should not only be alluring to deer, but comfortable too. 

Essentially, the ideal placement of your feeder will be in an area which is enticing to deer, but perhaps more importantly, comfortable (for different reasons) for both you and deer.

Behavioral Factors Which Influence the Effectiveness of Feeder Placement

As previously stated, understanding how deer engage the land and respond to their surroundings is vital to determining the ideal placement of a deer feeder. 

The comfort of deer is especially crucial to the effectiveness of a feeder’s placement because anxious or uneasy deer are unlikely to risk visiting feeders during the day; instead, uncomfortable deer are more likely to wait until after dark to feed. 

A desirable effect of an effectively positioned feeder is that it will invite deer frequently and repeatedly. Listed below are factors key to determining such a position. 

1. Traffic/Populated Trails and General Habitat

Logically, positioning a feeder in close proximity to a well-traversed game trail, specifically a trail you can be certain deer regularly cross, will be undoubtedly advantageous.   

Game trails in the vicinity of bedding areas, water sources, and other food plots are particularly desirable; access to these resources all but guarantees deer will explore the area, and perhaps more importantly, feel comfortable. 

Once you locate a suitable trail, you should determine the most accessible location along the track that deer could congregate at for a feed, and ultimately position the feeder in the area, preferably next to a food plot (feeders function well in combination with food plots). 

Placing a feeder in such a position provides a great opportunity for deer to discover the feeder and ultimately become accustomed to feeding from both the food plot(s) and the feeder, thus increasing your chances of observing deer at this site.

2. Seclusion/Human Intrusion

Understandably, deer are especially vigilant, anxious animals that consciously avoid or minimize their interactions with humans and other predators that threaten their existence.  

Initially, a deer feeder will alarm most, if not all, deer unfamiliar with the feeder. Accordingly, it is important that you consider their stress and anxiety when determining the placement of your feeder.

Often due to a lack of foresight, people make the major mistake of setting their feeder(s) exceedingly far away from cover (many choosing to place them in wide-open fields).  

Another common error which can be avoided easily is the placement of feeders in close proximity to roads. 

We simply advise that you keep feeders positioned along the edges of a habitat. 

In these secluded and non-threatening areas, deer may feel comfortable enough to feed during daylight hours, thus increasing overall feeder success.  

Ultimately, feeders should be positioned in locations which are comfortable for deer and safe enough to manage their unbridled anxiety.

Personal Factors Which Influence the Effectiveness of Feeder Placement

It is important to not only determine the attractiveness of a location for deer, but also consider the benefits of a location from the perspective of you, the person/group who must manage the feeder.

Listed below are factors which should be considered when determining the benefits of a location from your perspective.

1. Accessibility

Though this factor will not affect the success of your feeder(s), your ability to access your feeder(s) is unquestionably important, nonetheless.   

Easy to access locations are essential for most deer feeder owners/users. Due to the number of bags needed to refill a feeder, the task of transporting bags of feed to a feeder can be incredibly uncomfortable and demanding on the body when transporting them considerable distances.

Consequently, the ideal location for a feeder will be one which provides easy access for trucks/cars, or ATVs, and possibly even smooth walking access (shorter distances).

2. Hunting Strategies

For hunters, how they incorporate the location of their feeder(s) into their hunting strategy is often the most influential factor in their choice of placement.

While having easy access to a feeder is beneficial in that it improves the refilling process, achieving a set-up which facilitates successful and consistent kills at or around a feeder is imperative for hunters who utilize feeders.   

Logically, an effective location for your feeder will be one which offers you a great line of sight of approaching/departing deer, but also allows you to remain concealed/obscured. 

This may involve selecting an area with sizable trees to ensure you remain hidden in a tree stand or perhaps you prefer to conceal yourself in a ground blind surrounded by foliage.

You should also remember to use basic hunting strategies, such as: 

  • Remaining downwind of both the feeder and travel routes of deer; and

  • Determining where the sun will be when hunting at this site, then position yourself with your back to the sun to “blind” deer looking in your direction. 

It is important to note that by hunting over your feeder, you may be teaching deer to avoid them. 

For this reason, some hunters prefer to use feeders as scouting implements so they can simply observe the deer and eventually locate a trophy deer.

3. Troublemakers/Seclusion

Earlier, we recognized that positioning a feeder in a secluded location helps to improve feeder success; however, this is not the only benefit of placing a feeder in a quiet, sheltered environment.

Positioning your feeder(s) in a secluded location is also favorable in that it substantially reduces your chances of being adversely affected by people (and possibly critters). 

Fundamentally, the less people encountering the location of your feeder(s), the lower the possibility that your location/feeder will be compromised.

Poachers and thieves are specifically the type of people you do not want to find the location of your feeder; they will either use the location for their hunts, or they will steal the feeder for themselves.  

Ultimately, an easy and sensible method of protecting your feeder is to position it in a secluded location.

A Final Word

Once more, while it is possible to establish a productive feeder from an intuitive preference for a location, for the most part, attaining a successful feeder requires careful planning and consideration of several factors.

These factors relate to the level of comfort a location offers to the surrounding deer as well as you. This indicates that a comfortable location is more important than the actual attractiveness of your feeder.

Though feeders should entice deer to its position, the comfort and familiarity of the ecosystem in which the feeder is situated should ultimately be the feature that convinces deer to return to the feeder.

Note that it is essential that you do not start hunting over your feeder immediately. 

To achieve the highest level of success with your feeder, you should allow time for deer to become more comfortable with the feeder and eventually adapt to regularly using the feeder.

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