How would you like to have deer feeding on your property in the same spot every single day? Believe it or not, purchasing the best deer feeder on the market can help you accomplish this goal.
Since I was a child my uncle, father, and grandfather have used alternative food supplies to keep deer healthy and keep them coming back for more. Back in those days, we built our own deer feeders and food plots, but these days you can find several solid options for purchase.
Summary: Top 5 Deer Feeders for the Money
Detailed review below.
|Redneck Outdoors T-post Gravity Deer Feeder
|Durable, simple, animal resistant, multiple hanging options, inexpensive
|Smaller hopper, cannot control time of day
|American Hunter Sun Slinger Solar Deer Feeder
|Solar power, digital screen, durable, inexpensive
|Hopper is separate, cannot replace solar panel
|American Hunter Hanging Feeder and Varmint Buster
|Hopper size, Varmint Buster, number of time settings
|Analog, soft hopper material, no hardware
|Moultrie Pro Magnum Deer Feeder Kit
|Warranty, LCD screen
|Separate hopper and solar panel, some defects, relatively expensive
|On Time 11114 Solar Elite Deer Feeder
|Digital display, solar powered, lifetime warranty
|Cost, separate hopper, reliability issues
How To Choose The Best Deer Feeder
Deer feeders are still somewhat hard to find, so you really need to know your priorities before you start looking. Between the feeder, the hopper, and any mounting equipment you can spend anywhere from under $100 up to several hundred per setup. Knowing your budget is very important as well. Here are some points to consider:
- Do you prefer a simple design or new technology?
- Is a solid construction or a lifetime warranty more important?
- Do you want to rely on batteries or on solar panels?
- How much feed do you want it to hold?
- Are you worried about other animals doing damage?
- How often do you want to feed the deer?
- How much are you able to spend?
If you know these things in advance, it will often make the decision much easier. In fact, many times these questions will narrow your search down to just one or two good models.
Pitfalls To Avoid
A deer feeder can be a big investment. Making the wrong choice can be a costly mistake, but making the right choice can greatly improve your wildlife experience. A feeder can help if you are trying to direct that monster buck under your stand, or if you just want to invite some deer into the back yard for pictures. Watch out for these priorities that other buyers have missed:
- Make sure the hopper, hardware, and solar panels are included in the price.
- Do not assume that small animals will not be an issue.
- Even if there is a lifetime warranty, you may spend a lot of time getting it repaired.
- Make sure you know if you will be hanging it on a tree or using a stand or post.
- Decide if you need solar panels or if you can save some money.
- Ensure that you are using your deer feeder in accordance with local hunting regulations.
Keep in mind that this feeder will be exposed to squirrels, raccoons, bears, and every type of weather you can imagine. If you want your feeder to last, you have to think about the materials used for its construction.
How To Use Your Deer Feeder
When you are setting up your deer feeder there are three main keys to success… location, feed type, and feeding schedule. If you get these details right you can almost guarantee to have more deer sightings in your area.
First, we need to discuss location. Deer will likely not smell your feeder and come running. Instead, you need to pick a location where there is already some level of deer activity. Once they see the feed they will be more inclined to come back looking for more.
You can look for deer trails, rubs, scrapes, or droppings to determine where deer have been. You can also look for bedding areas and set up your deer feeder between bedding areas and other deer destinations. This would include natural food and water supplies.
When it comes to cover, balance is the key. Putting your feeder in a completely exposed area is not a good idea. However, neither is setting it up in the brush so thick that the deer cannot get to it. If you can find an area where walking is easy but the visibility is limited, you have found the right balance.
As for the product to feed your deer, that subject could be a whole other article itself. Many people go with standard corn, but deer have other needs in their diet. You can also use protein, minerals, or any combination of the three to draw in your deer.
Your feeding schedule will be determined by your budget and your wildlife goals. Some people want to increase the health and size of their deer, and feeding year round makes sense. Other people are strictly looking to draw in deer for the fall, and your schedule will be adjusted to save some money.
If you have game cameras, you can use them to determine exactly when deer are walking near your feeder. This can help you pinpoint a time to set for feeding. If not, you can shoot for an hour before sunrise and sunset as this are when deer are most commonly moving. Check afterward to see how much is eaten and adjust from there
Initially, deer will be hesitant to eat from a new food source, but little by little they will become more comfortable. At first, they may only feed by the cover of darkness. However, with time they will start feeding more often and during daylight hours as well.
Many deer feeders will be visited regularly and at the same time of day once the deer feel safe. It may take a few weeks, but this type of regular feeding schedule is the goal. Continue to use trial and error to find the schedule that works best for your needs.
Reviews Of The Top 5 Deer Feeders
Below we have reviewed 5 of the best deer feeders for the money. You can’t go wrong with any of these!
This gravity design is the same type of design my family has used for decades when building our own deer feeders. It is completely maintenance free and nearly indestructible. However, this model holds much more feed with an 80 lb. capacity.
To mount this model you can use ratchet straps to secure it to a tree, but this makes it easier for squirrels to get to the side of the hopper. If mounting it on a free-standing post it is suggested that you put a PVC pipe over the post to keep off the animals.
Because of the secure lid on top, animals can only feed from the spout at the bottom.
This deer feeder does a great job of keeping your feed dry and secure. Plenty of squirrels and raccoons have tried to chew through the side. It even held up against an attack from a 300 lb. black bear.
With no moving parts, this feeder is designed to last through just about anything. It is priced on the lower end of our range, so you can even afford to buy several of them if needed. If simplicity is your preference, this deer feeder may be the best you will find.
Pros: Durable, simple, animal resistant, multiple hanging options, inexpensive
Cons: Smaller hopper, cannot control time of day
This deer feeder incorporates solar power with a rock solid construction. If you are looking for more technology and control, this may be a good fit. It comes with a digital screen and has 16 timer settings to fine tune your feeding schedule.
The feeder does take batteries if you prefer. However, when combined with the solar panel it rarely relies on the batteries. With both power sources combined it can run for years without changing batteries.
Nearly the entire until is made of thick metal, so it can endure plenty of abuse from animals and weather. The only real downside to its construction is that the solar panel cannot be replaced if it breaks, but this was not a common problem.
The thrower slings feed out in a 15-foot radius giving you a large coverage area. The hopper is sold separately, but the feeder is so inexpensive that the total cost is still quite affordable. If you only have to buy a new one every five to ten years, then it makes for a good value.
Pros: Solar power, digital screen, durable, inexpensive
Cons: Hopper is separate, cannot replace solar panel
This unit is an interesting alternative to every other model we have reviewed. American Hunter has added some additional technology in some areas while stripping it down in others. This keeps the cost relatively low.
The deer feeder is an analog unit, and you actually use a pin to press buttons and set the timer. It has 24 timer settings to choose from, but it does not come with a solar panel. However, you can install two 6V batteries and it will last for well over a year.
The more advanced hardware is in the Varmint Buster feature. This only works for the feeder section and sends a small electrical charge through any critters that touch the unit. The hopper is not metal, but it is sealed at the top so it should not be an issue.
Because the hopper is made of softer material, it is possible that an ambitious animal could chew a hole in the side. It holds 225 lbs. of feed which is the highest of any model that comes with a hopper. This model does not come with hardware for hanging, but it is reasonably priced.
Pros: Hopper size, Varmint Buster, number of time settings
Cons: Analog, soft hopper material, no hardware
Overall this deer feeder is well built and reliable, but there have been isolated incidents where issues were found. It does have a lifetime warranty, but nobody wants to have to ship off their feeder to have it fixed. When factoring the cost and features, this model is still worth considering.
The feeder has an LCD display screen and allows you to set the timer for six separate times. Both the Hopper and the solar panel have to be purchased separately, so plan to budget in that extra cost. Without the solar panel, the feeder just runs on 6V batteries and will last quite some time.
The construction appears solid as almost everything is metal, and it comes with a lifetime warranty. However, there have been issues with the timer dying, the throw wheel coming off, and the animal guard breaking. Of course, all of these issues were fixed under the warranty.
Of the models we reviewed, this one was on the upper end of the cost range. However, it is still much less expensive than the most costly brands. Even with the cost of a hopper and solar panel, the total is below average.
Pros: Warranty, LCD screen
Cons: Separate hopper and solar panel, some defects, relatively expensive
The On Time feeder has some more advanced technology with a digital display and a cylindrical solar panel. The panel in combination with batteries allows this unit to run on its own for about two years. You can set six times per day for feeding and adjust the seconds per feeding.
You must purchase the hopper separately. When adding in this cost, the feeder may have been the most expensive one we reviewed. You can easily plan on spending several hundred dollars when it is all said and done.
At first glance, the lifetime warranty is a nice feature and makes you feel good about the durability of the product. However, we found several instances when the item broke down and had to be sent in for a warranty repair. It is good that the company paid for the repair, but it took several weeks to get the unit back between the shipping and repair time.
Pros: Digital display, solar powered, lifetime warranty
Cons: Cost, separate hopper, reliability issues
In our opinion, the best deer feeder we reviewed was the Redneck Outdoors T-post Gravity Deer Feeder. This model was affordable, durable, and simple. In many cases, I could envision a buyer purchasing several of these units to cover a larger area.
If only my family could have purchased these deer feeders instead of cutting PVC pipe and filling it with feed every few days, it would have saved hours of labor. This feeder has no moving parts and is made of a tough polymer, so weather and other animals are not an issue like with the On Time and Moultrie models.
This feeder comes with a built in the hopper so you do not have anything additional to purchase like with the American Hunter Sun Slinger. It was reasonably priced unlike the Moultrie Pro Magnum and American Hunter Hanging model. We found it easy to use and easy to install.
The only downsides we found to this model were that the hopper was on the small side, and you cannot control what time of day the deer eat. However, when you are not worrying about other animals getting to your feed then the time of day is not nearly as important. We found these both to be minor concerns.
So now it is time to make a purchase. Once your deer feeder is assembled and installed, spend some time working with it and see what you think. We hope you will take the time to provide feedback on this article and on your selection. Thank you!