Making Sense of Attractants
Our favorite time of year is upon us: whitetail hunting season! With the arrival of hunting season we usually see the shelves of local sporting goods and feed retailers load up with “Super Deer Attractants” and the majority of your favorite outdoor personalities or TV shows become choked with the same thing… silver bullet attractants that you can’t live without! All of which claim to be nutrition packed, irresistible to deer, and better than the next. This article will help you sort through all the noise, so you can find something that may actually work for you.
Nutritional claims by attractants are a stretch due to the fact that small quantities of bagged attractants cannot supply enough from an intake standpoint to affect any particular herd dynamic.
Attractants are simply that, they are designed to be preferred over natural forage when put into the field, in order to give hunters or photographers the opportunity to see a deer outside of cover. While most attractants will be consumed by deer if they stumble across them, they are usually consumed by nontarget species. Most attractants are only nutritional supplements simply because somebody says so, even though they supply little if anything other than some energy. The majority are primarily a grain or commodity based product with very little if any functional ingredients included to promote digestive health. More importantly, nutritional claims are a stretch due to the fact that small quantities of bagged attractants cannot supply enough from an intake standpoint to affect any particular herd dynamic. So please dispel any notion that using small amounts of a particular attractant is going to improve the average Boone & Crockett score of your deer herd.
That being said, some attractants work tremendously well at pulling deer out of cover when tough conditions exist. Currently most of the country is seeing exactly that, as we have been blessed with a tremendous mast crop – “mast” for most being acorns. Acorns are an energy dense preferred forage for deer when they are plentiful, and extremely hard to compete with when it comes to feed based attractants. This presents a challenge for most of us hunters, as a mature free range deer not in rut is very opportunistic and will not travel any farther than needed to meet daily dietary requirements. So when we are in pre-rut conditions, we look to put out whatever we can get our hands on to try to lure that wily buck out of cover for a shot.
The primary attractant that is used by most is shelled corn. Shelled corn will generally outperform 95% of the bagged granular attractants that are available when put side by side. If you use corn, the only thing to be sure of is that is tested for aflatoxin and is not over 20ppb, as levels higher than this could be detrimental to wildlife. Flavored or scented versions are also available now which can help during a big acorn crop. Deer typically follow their noses, and sweet smelling corn seems to be preferred or at least found more quickly where deer are naïve to it.
Deer are creatures of habit, so for best results they need to become patterned to a food source.
Deer are creatures of habit, so for best results they need to become patterned to a food source. This would mean placing the attractant in an area multiple times prior to hunting, or utilizing a spin cast deer feeder. One of the best options, where legal, is a timed corn feeder filled 50/50 with corn and Record Rack Golden Deer Nuggets or Record Rack Berry Flavored Corn, where available. If you are looking for something to dump on the ground, try Record Rack Golden Deer Nuggets or the new Record Rack BC Elite, as they are berry flavored and have shown preference over other bagged granular attractants when placed side by side in the field.
Even with the most palatable bagged attractant you can get your hands on, you will still need to relate closely to these mast producing areas. Deer have been seen eating acorns under the same tree a dog is chained to with the dog going ballistic. Deer just keep munching away just outside the reach of the dog. Going to be tough to compete with that no matter what you’re packing!
At the end of the day , there are really no silver bullets.
At the end of the day , there are really no silver bullets. Those hunters that have done their scouting homework and have utilized attractants in an area to a point that deer have become patterned to it are the primary ones that experience success year in and year out. Wasting money on the silver bullet 5-20# products out there isn’t recommended - most are simply well marketed grain byproducts that aren’t nutritionally balanced and are not as effective as regular deer corn.
We wish everybody the best of luck this year and feel free to contact us if you would like more information on an effective supplemental feeding program. Stay safe, and shoot straight!
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