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Nothing draws in wild deer quite like an unharvested corn field. If you can find an ideal stand location on the end of one, there’s almost no better place to sit during hunting season. Corn is like candy to deer. Once they seek it out and find it, they’ll often stay and feed on it until there is nothing left over for the other critters in the woods. This makes a small pile of deer corn a highly effective tool for drawing a stubborn buck to a specific spot for a shot. Combine corn with the latest in modern feeders that work on a timer, and you can start tempting bucks that previously were nocturnal to start visiting in the daylight hours instead.
There are both pros and cons to using whole corn as a deer bait, most of them having to do with legalities, but we’ll get into all that. Mainly, we want to talk about how you can utilize deer corn to up your odds of success this season. We’ll also suggest some options for corn and additives to help spice up your bait piles a little bit to draw more deer this year. If you’ve never utilized the power of corn as a deer attractant, you might be surprised at what you’re missing out on.
The Pros and Cons of Deer Corn
Obviously, the main pro of deer corn is that it brings deer in like a magnet and acts as a conditioner to keep them revisiting an area hoping to find more. It can be especially effective in big woods areas where there’s a lack of agriculture because the animals aren’t used to finding that kind of sweet treat. Once they get a taste, they’re hooked and will likely return on a regular basis so long as the bait keeps being replenished. In the late season, when deer are desperate for food, you’re almost guaranteed to see something when you’ve got an established corn pile in place. In my experience, back when bait was legal in Michigan, deer can sometimes find and start changing their habits around a bait pile as soon as the first day it is out.
One of the main cons about corn is that it’s not an especially nutritious meal for deer. According to the Michigan DNR, the problem lies within the makeup of the corn itself. Corn is low fiber. It’s also high in carbohydrates. The stomach of a deer is designed to operate more efficiently on the high fiber natural browse normally found in their habitats. Things like acorns, chestnuts, grasses, tree leaves, and other natural flora. North American Whitetail notes deer love poison ivy and sumac and are not affected by them.
Basically, corn is mostly unnatural to a deer’s diet. Sometimes, if a deer gets access to too much corn all at once, it can develop a condition called Acidosis where it is unable to properly digest high carb foods. You want to ensure you never over-feed the deer with corn. Ideally, you’ll also provide some other options in the form of food plots and supplements. We’ll discuss those more later.
The other downside to corn is that wild hogs, raccoons, squirrels, turkeys, and other wild birds love the stuff. Sometimes, an entire sounder of hogs can eat all the corn off a pile meant for deer in a matter of only a few hours. Corn is expensive, and it’s rather discouraging when you realize the deer aren’t getting to enjoy it because every other critter in the forest is also eating it. We’ll talk about some ways around that next.
Effectively Using Deer Corn
Before you do anything else, check your state or province’s regulations on deer baiting. Don’t assume it’s legal because it is in stores. Most states prohibit the use, but they don’t prohibit the sales of it. Some states have regulations on the amount of bait you can put out. Pay attention to the limits. More people are ticketed for illegal baiting than almost any other wildlife crime, so check ahead of time to avoid unpleasant encounters with local law enforcement.
When it comes to using corn, anyone can dump a bucket of corn on the ground and call it good. That’s not to say it doesn’t work, but my experience when baiting was legal in Michigan was that it only encouraged deer to visit at night. That’s why a deer feeder with a timer is an essential item. The timer allows you to set it only to release food during legal shooting hours. The deer will figure out the times and change their habits to be there when the corn is dispensed. Make sure it is an area that’s easily accessed by a tractor, truck, or ATV. When you need to refresh your bait, you want to keep it as simple and quick as possible.
If you are having problems with other animals eating all the corn, the best solution is a gravity feeder with a narrow spout that keeps the feeding area small and raised off the ground to where only deer can reach it. Think about your stand or blind placement when positioning a bait pile or feeder. Make sure the bait is at a range you’re comfortable with shooting. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to place your feeder 200 yards from your stand if you’re only comfortable to 150.
Deer like to feel safe and comfortable while they are feeding. So, while you need to make sure the feeder or corn pile is near a high traffic area where deer can find it, you also must ensure there is adequate cover. A corn feeder can be highly effective in a staging area for a food plot. The corn gives them an extra incentive to stop and scan the plot for danger before they enter. Now, let’s look at corn options and some additives to make it more appealing to the deer.
1. The Budget Bulk Option
Manna Pro Deer Corn, Walmart, $12.98
This is the simple option for anyone looking to buy multiple bags to keep their feeders refreshed often, or for anyone needing to keep multiple feeders or bait sites topped off. This whole shelled corn comes in 50-pound bags. This corn is flavored for an additional attractant edge that will bring big bucks in every night looking for more. From an affordability standpoint, this is one of the better options on the market today for a flavored deer corn.
2. A More Potent Attractant for Wary Deer
Manna Pro Double Duty Deer Corn, Walmart, $10.98
This corn comes in 35-pound bags, so you get a little less. However, this is a slightly higher quality corn that’s going to be more effective at luring in wary der in high pressure hunting situations. Mana says this corn is triple-cleaned and then coated with attractant that will help it catch the noses of deer faster than a standard bag of corn. We also like this for hunters who only have one bait site. It’s also great for anyone who only uses a small amount when the situation warrants it.
3. A Premium Supplemental Blend For Serious Hunters
Sportsman’s Choice Record Rack, Amazon, $44
If you’re looking for a supplemental blend to compliment your food plots and other nutrition, this is not a bad option. The downside is that it is very expensive for a 40-pound bag. The plus side is that the corn is double cleaned to clear of debris. Sportsman’s Choice says this corn offers five percent crude fiber, six percent crude protein, and 2.5 percent crude fat. We’d compliment this with some other offerings like pellets, so the deer get some additional nutrition. This is the option for hunters who like to have top quality in everything they use.
4. For Hunters Who Want More Nutrition for the Deer
Herron Outdoors 4-4-2 Deer Feed, Amazon, $22.99
This is a good option for anyone who wants to use corn but is also concerned about the health issues pure corn can cause. This feed is a mix that includes 20 percent corn, 40 percent protein pellets, and 40 percent blaze orange protein pellets. There are also attractant scents to help draw the deer in, and a cover scent to help mask your presence in the area.
5. An Additive to Boost the Smell
Wildgame Innovations Supercharged Corn Boost, Academy Sports and Outdoors, $9.99
Sometimes you need to add a little bit of extra attractant to corn to make it more appealing to those big bucks. This additive will help you do just that. This additive enhances the flavor of standard corn and makes the scent of it stronger to bring deer in from further away. The nice thing about this bag is that four pounds of additive is enough to mix and enhance 80 pounds worth of corn.
6. A Liquid Corn Topper That Adds Minerals
Burbon Buck Old Fashioned Liquid Corn Topper, Sportsman’s Warehouse, $11.99
The main benefit of this additive is that it also effectively turns your corn pile site into a mineral lick. That way, the deer get the benefits of mineral nutrition while they are snacking on your corn. It has a sweet smell that will also help to attract and keep them coming back for more.
7. A Supplement That Adds Protein
Ani Logics JAC Supplement, Bass Pro Shops, $19.99
This is another great option for anyone who wants to up the nutritional value of a standard bag of corn. JAC stands for “just add corn.” You mix one part JAC with two parts corn to produce a protein-packed supplemental mix that also adds vitamins, minerals, and probiotics. It’s less messy than liquid additives, makng it easier to mix and to use with a feeder.
For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Instagram For original videos, check out his Geocaching and Outdoors with Travis YouTube channels.
READ MORE: 8 DEER FEEDERS THAT WILL INCREASE YOUR ODDS OF SUCCESS THIS SEASON
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