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Thread: Hay Bales for Deer?

  1. #1
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    Hay Bales for Deer?

    Now that the season is winding down in Alabama, I'm thinking again about ways to do supplemental feeding. We'll put in our usual summer food plots (corn, soybeans, peas) and I'll put out feeders (corn and soybeans), but I was wondering if there was any kind of hay that deer like? I figured some of you guys in agricultural area might know.



  2. #2
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    Anybody? Hay? Deer?

  3. #3
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    I've heard that high moisture alfalfa bales get deer use... Never tried it, but am looking at lining some up for next winter.
    "Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'"
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  4. #4
    I have heard that deer absolutely love alfalfa hay. Never tried it though... Its hard to find around here. I would like to here some more reports on it myself... Keep this thread up!

  5. #5
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    Straight hay is no good and unless their truly starving they usually won't eat it. The feed is good as long as you aren't in a CWD area, if you are then I would reccomend leaving them be. Concentrating deer like a feeder does makes it real easy for the disease to spread. If you have the space, planting a winter food plot will help. Lots of places sell mixes that will grow late into the year and keep a good nutritional value through the winter.
    Vermont State Let's Go Fishing Instructor
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  6. #6
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    From my notebook:

    1. It takes time for a deer's digestive system to adjust from natural browse to alfalfa and/or corn. If it doesn't have enough fat reserves to carry through that adjustment, it can still starve with a belly full of hay or corn. The best way for deer and other wildlife to survive a severe winter is to have a healthy supply of natural food and cover. Most wildlife can survive relatively short periods of severe weather.

    2. Nevada Dept of Wildlife tells of an effort during a heavy winter in the early 1990s by residents of the Mogul, NV area to feed deer with hay. A train hit some deer attracted to the feed. Others happily gobbled up the offered food and in a short time, died. The deer were wandering up the hill and lying down and not getting up again. That’s because mule deer are accustomed to diets of sagebrush and bitterbrush and that loading up on alfalfa is too much for their systems. It would have the effect of someone that’s eaten nothing but oatmeal all their life and then giving them nothing but hot chili peppers. The best thing people can do to protect deer during the winter is to protect the winter habitat that shelters and feeds them, Healy said.

    It can't be stressed often enough....having quality habitat and quality (not quantity) animals will ensure their continued health. Too many deer and/or not enough browse is detrimental. That is why I believe we need to be more than hunters...we need to be managers. Even pen-raised deer will eat browse; that is what they are wired to eat if it is available. Charles Alsheimer cuts fresh browse for his deer every day! Will they use supplement feed? Of course. But as pointed out above, food plots and natural browse are the best thing you can do to ensure the overall continued health of your deer.


    The large print giveth, but the small print taketh away.


  7. #7
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    Thanks for the input. I do appreciate ALL the responses

    I'd like to clarify a few things. I should have been clearer on this to begin with:

    We do plant 14 YEAR ROUND food plots on our land, so we do have that base covered.
    We do practice selective harvesting.
    We do send our jawbones to Auburn U. for analysis.
    We have 700 acres bordered by thousands more of hunting land where the land owners are pretty much doing the same thing.
    We do not have CWD.
    We do not have harsh winters - we have natural browse year-round. Even acorns are around until mid-January. Our deer don't starve to death.
    I put 5 Moultrie feeders out immediately after season ends and take them down 10 days before season begins. I feed corn to start with, then switch them to soybeans for protien. Our deer are not dependent on feeding - we do it to improve nutrition - as a supplement to what they eat normally.
    My question about hay is in regard to using it as a SUPPLEMENT. Is there a type that is nutritious? Is there a good type of hay that has beneficial value to deer to SUPPLEMENT normal browse? I'm not going to buy tractor-trailer loads of hay - I'm thinking about maybe 10-12 bales placed around the property. I even wondered about possibly using it as a base for a slat/mineral lick instead of putting it in the ground and getting that big hole.

    Any more thoughts?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by CWarmouth
    Thanks for the input. I do appreciate ALL the responses

    I'd like to clarify a few things. I should have been clearer on this to begin with:

    We do plant 14 YEAR ROUND food plots on our land, so we do have that base covered.
    We do practice selective harvesting.
    We do send our jawbones to Auburn U. for analysis.
    We have 700 acres bordered by thousands more of hunting land where the land owners are pretty much doing the same thing.
    We do not have CWD.
    We do not have harsh winters - we have natural browse year-round. Even acorns are around until mid-January. Our deer don't starve to death.
    I put 5 Moultrie feeders out immediately after season ends and take them down 10 days before season begins. I feed corn to start with, then switch them to soybeans for protien. Our deer are not dependent on feeding - we do it to improve nutrition - as a supplement to what they eat normally.
    My question about hay is in regard to using it as a SUPPLEMENT. Is there a type that is nutritious? Is there a good type of hay that has beneficial value to deer to SUPPLEMENT normal browse? I'm not going to buy tractor-trailer loads of hay - I'm thinking about maybe 10-12 bales placed around the property. I even wondered about possibly using it as a base for a slat/mineral lick instead of putting it in the ground and getting that big hole.

    Any more thoughts?
    If you have all that you listed, there's no need to give them hay. JMHO

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by duckbuster870
    If you have all that you listed, there's no need to give them hay. JMHO
    Why's that?

  10. #10
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    I believe arrowheadtroutm is correct, hay is not a good feed for deer. I'm not sure how interested they would be anyway, unless there is absolutely nothing else available.

    We have a large hayfield planted with a mix of grass, clover, and alfalfa. During the growing season the deer will feed heavily, especially on the new alfalfa shoots. Once it's put up they don't seem to have much interest in it. I usually have close to 100 large round bales around the edge of the field for our horses and I have never seen evidence of deer eating on the bales. They will scratch down through the snow and feed on whats left in the field, but totally ignore the bales a few feet away. And this is in Minnesota where deer have it pretty hard most years. I don't think hay is going to do you much good for feed, sounds like you have it covered pretty well already...

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Easykeeper
    I believe arrowheadtroutm is correct, hay is not a good feed for deer. I'm not sure how interested they would be anyway, unless there is absolutely nothing else available.

    We have a large hayfield planted with a mix of grass, clover, and alfalfa. During the growing season the deer will feed heavily, especially on the new alfalfa shoots. Once it's put up they don't seem to have much interest in it. I usually have close to 100 large round bales around the edge of the field for our horses and I have never seen evidence of deer eating on the bales. They will scratch down through the snow and feed on whats left in the field, but totally ignore the bales a few feet away. And this is in Minnesota where deer have it pretty hard most years. I don't think hay is going to do you much good for feed, sounds like you have it covered pretty well already...
    Thanks man, just looking for that extra edge - knwowatImean? People around here take this stuff pretty seriously. Some of them break a law or two in the process (I don't), so coming up with something new that benefits the herd and keeps deer on your own proerty at least as much as they're on your neighbors property is on our minds quite a bit.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by CWarmouth
    Why's that?
    If they have all the food that you listed, it sounds like the deer have it pretty good, there's no need to feed them hay, why waste the money.. no need for a nutrition supplement JMHO and like everyone said hay isn't the best for them in the winter.
    Last edited by duckbuster870; January 27th, 2006 at 01:00 PM.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by CWarmouth
    Thanks man, just looking for that extra edge - knwowatImean? People around here take this stuff pretty seriously. Some of them break a law or two in the process (I don't), so coming up with something new that benefits the herd and keeps deer on your own proerty at least as much as they're on your neighbors property is on our minds quite a bit.
    Well if you want to keep them on your property like you say, do what you have to do, but nobody does that sort of thing around here.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by duckbuster870
    Well if you want to keep them on your property like you say, do what you have to do, but nobody does that sort of thing around here.
    Here's the deal: We (as in me and the few other guys that hunt this land) want to manage the herd as well as we can. We selectively harvest bucks. Deer around here have a range of about 3-5 miles. They move back and forth on everyone's property, but will tend to hang around an area more if their needs are being met and they are happy. I am not trying to hoard deer, but I'd prefer them to be on our property where they won't get killed as spikes and forkies instead of on another property where they are illegally baited and shot before they reach their potential. We do not want to, and are not going to put up high fences, but more and more people are starting to do that around here. I guess they are everywhere. It's a pretty big problem in Alabama. Lots of guys have the mentality of "If I don't shoot that deer my neighbor will anyway."

    A little hay is cheap compared to the rest of the cost of keeping this stuff up. If somebody on the board told me they had fantastic results with a particular type of hay, I'd be all for it. Doing work on the land, surveying the populaton, watching them year-round, getting to know individual deer, etc. is nearly as much fun as pursuing them with a weapon to me. The year-round stuff is as much a hobby as the actual hunting.

    I might try a bale or two of alfalfa for the heck of it.

  15. #15
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    Put in some good mineral licks.
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  16. #16
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    That's one thing we have not done in many years. I'm not sure why. Do you have a suggestion in terms of a brand?

  17. #17
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    I use alfalfa hay couldnt get them to eat it till i put some tecomates horns a plenty on it like one coffee cup per half bale of hay or roughly 10 ounces. I spread it over the top of it and they hammered it, then quit putting the mineral on it little by little and it still works. the mineral by iotsself is AWESOME too. PM me if you have any ?'s

  18. #18
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    It sounds like you guys are making a first class effort to have a first class honey hole! I envy your acreage. My experience on 400 acres in PA..which may or may not be different from you...is to back off the hunting pressure. Minimal or no quads, no drive hunting, minimal still hunting, no hunting over main food plots. Since we incorporated this kind of mindset, we have become a "sanctuary" of sorts for deer. When the pressure is on, they come to us.

    It sounds to me like your deer have everything they need! Do you use cameras to determine their travel outside of the rut? Hard to believe a deer would travel 3 miles from what you have unless he is forced to?


    The large print giveth, but the small print taketh away.


  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by arrowheadtroutm
    It sounds like you guys are making a first class effort to have a first class honey hole! I envy your acreage. My experience on 400 acres in PA..which may or may not be different from you...is to back off the hunting pressure. Minimal or no quads, no drive hunting, minimal still hunting, no hunting over main food plots. Since we incorporated this kind of mindset, we have become a "sanctuary" of sorts for deer. When the pressure is on, they come to us.

    It sounds to me like your deer have everything they need! Do you use cameras to determine their travel outside of the rut? Hard to believe a deer would travel 3 miles from what you have unless he is forced to?
    We are trying. I'm not kidding you though - everybody around here does it. Our place is not any more special than anyone elses. Some people (with more money) do a lot more. A lot of guys feed Godfrey's instead of corn and soybeans for example. A lot of guys pay experts big money to go all out on their land. It's hard to draw deer away from that.That's why so many people are going to high fence situations. They are tired of putting all the work and money into it and having their der go off and get shot by someone else, while their little puny deer come to their land. That's why I'm always trying to think of something new that is relatively inexpensive.

    I agree with you on the issue of hunting pressure. That's our biggest problem IMO. From Oct 15-Nov 15 (bow season) there are deer everywhere. They are all relaxed and just kind of walking all around you. For the first week of gun season it's pretty much the same. From Thanksgiving until about Jan 10th it sucks. The deer just go into hiding until the hormones get them moving mid-January.

    Yes I use cameras all year on our property but that doesn't tell me their entire range. I know that they travel 3-5 miles because I have 4 friends who are wildlife biologists who actually do the hands-on (literally) deer studies. One of them has been involved in an 8 year research project using radio collars on a 9,000 acre preserve that belongs to the company we both work for. (No, I'm not allowed to hunt there, but it's big buck heaven. Some of this land joins Jeff Foxworthy's land. He bought it from the people who own the company I work for. It's also joined by another 9,000 acre club that costs $20,000/year to join. No, that's not a typo. Kind of makes my home-grown 700 acre tract seem little.) Another one of my buddies has been involved in a long-term study for Auburn U. He sits in a ladder stand at night over a pile of corn with a dart gun and a gen II night vision scope. They dart a deer, pull a tooth to age it, take a blood sample and a piece of ear for DNA, put on a radio collar, then insert another tracking device in its uterus if it's a doe. (The poor deer must feel like it was abducted by aliens.) When the doe delivers a fawn, the radio tag drops out. When it does it emits a signal to a receiver (because of the change of temperature.) Then they go out, tag the fawn with a collar and can track it for it's entire life. Everyone knows that mature bucks move, but even does do. A deer may stay in one area for months, bedding, feeding, bedding, feeding, then suddenly get up one day and travel miles away for no obvious reason, never to return again. Some people believe they are wired that way to keep imbreeding down.

    I doubt a bale of alfalfa hay will do much to counter that, but you can see what I have to deal with. Oh, I should mention - the Foxworthy land etc does not border my land. It's an hour away. If it bordered it I'd just let his deer wander over on my land and blast 'em like the other rednecks do.

  20. #20
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    Before putting out mineral licks for wild animals, you might want to make sure it's legal in your area.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dchiefransom
    Before putting out mineral licks for wild animals, you might want to make sure it's legal in your area.
    Good advice. It is. They just can't be out during deer season. Only pure salt licks can. Thanks.

  22. #22
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    Are you a deer hunter or a deer farmer? From your posts I can't tell.

  23. #23
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    Your kidding if ya think they will eat the bales.

    I have 500 acres I hunt and try to manage.....ha.
    I have seen the deer every night out in alfafa,then when it gets cut and is laying there out on the ground they don't even look at it.
    They want the growing matter period.
    I would not recommend wasting all the time you are spending trying to supplement them besides with what you already are and have been giving them.Is it worth it?
    Deer season is over,put the feeders out and put in some corn and mineral supplement in there and this spring plant the plot.
    In the late fall is a time to think about planting what keeps them in your property.
    If your trying to save money by supplementing feed for them by giving them hay(alfalfa)try giving the plot/surrounding areas more brissicas.
    Usually the later you plant them the better,tricky to get growth before the killing frost.
    I have seen them make it into december full green...Christmas yes,Greenery no problem and even the middle of jan....every morning and night eating it.
    I noticed they won't even touch them alone if they have clover and other plants readily available.when everything starts to die....and once they get there noses in it,like clockwork.
    I know there are plenty of other plants/bushes that you can plant....too.
    I wanted to suggest to you to make it simple,if your already planting,ya mise well use what your using for plot to the advantage/of feeding them.It will keep them theoretically coming back to get food on the plots(yours),if you do this.
    If the neighbors are feeding them hundreds of lbs. of deercane,mollasas,and baby bananas,you can't do a thing about it.They go where they want to.
    You can plant a surroundng circle in the middle or surround it with brissicas/fertilize in the fall/late august/early sept..They are very hardy,grow fast and harveting a deer untill january? maybe longer is the question?.plant wisely,it will work.I can't use feeders here,and am not a deer farmer,just know that my planting has been a failure when I first started,and know what works now.I Will be planting again this spring,and the fall.
    Oh yea,
    Just try to get in and out of the area in the fall to plant with the intentions of hunting it/remember to not leave any (scent) behind of course.

  24. #24
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    Thanks for the reply Glenny. I appreciate you taking the time to give a thoughtful response. You are absolutely right about the brassicas. Is there a particular type you like? We put in a mix of collard greens, turnip greens, and rape in the food plots (plus the clover, peas, rye, winter wheat, etc.) and they pretty much keep them clipped to the ground. We put them in our fall plots only though. Not in the spring plots. I'm in Alabama and it gets dang hot and dry here in the summer. We were told that the weeds, overgrazing, and dry conditions would not be conducive to summer planting of brassicas. I've never even tried them in the summer. On the other hand, we have pretty mild winters, and they do real well.

    I believe you that deer won't eat the hay. I didn't know, and that's why I was asking. I don't have much experience with hay but I thought it might be good to put a few bales in areas that were not in food plots. Like along the side of the roads through the property and stuff like that.

    I came up with this thought about the hay the other day sitting in a stand. I pulled a dark to dark hunt and you think about all kinds of stuff on a day like that. Not far from the stand is a deep depression in the ground where years ago someone had made a salt lick. I was wondering how I could make a lick without getting the resulting hole in the ground. I thought "I bet it would work to put a mineral mix in a hay bale." (Like Mountain Man was talking about.) Then I thought, "Hmm, I wonder if there is a type of hay deer like. I'll ask the guys on AT, I bet someone has some experience with hay."

    Thanks again.

  25. #25
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    I use shotplot for brassicas

    I don't know why it grows so well,it just does with the right fertilizer of course and water,anything can grow but,,they say to use 13-13-13.I used a medium nitrogen and high phosphate for them I think it was 10-25-25?I will get back to ya gotta check the bag,kinda like a fallgrass fertilizer and ag lime two weeks prior to planting, and then put it in with fertilzer,your after root development more than anything therefore your plant even though it may stuggle if dry or frost sets in it can still grow.
    I know what you mean about the hay.Sorry.
    I watched it a few times,could not understand it until I seen it first hand.You would think soon as it gets cut they would be out there waiting for the tractor to leave the feild,ha,ha.
    It's not that you will have them eating it like you may think,Like I said,I seen them not touch them sometimes until everything is dying/what they usually eat is the clover,once one deer starts eating it though they all start gathering on it in the morning and in the afternoon,usually everyday when it does happen.
    I use whitetail extreme clover and prograze.
    I think that white clover has up to 35% protein...
    That is as much as corn,but better because it doesn't burn up in there digestive system.
    I had a freind tell me the best thing to give them is corn,I am starting to beleive it's the white clover that will give them mass and nutrition that will keep them shovelin it in.
    I will be doing mine with the help of the tractor(farmer tills) if it isn't to wet,and a big self propelled rototiller,a four wheeler with a drag 6x8,w/spikes that dig,and after use a planter with a rake on it.hooks right on the fourwheeler.
    I have done them when I first started by hand before,a ton of work,it took me all day once to get a small plot in(1/2 acre)I can honestly say I will never do that again.
    It is really something else to see the wildlife it helps.I have never seen more rabbits in my life.I can always find a smile watching them at times if I don't see deer,I think even they have tripled in number.
    I use to put out mineral supplement,I wouldn't worry about the holes,I seen them dig almost a three-four foot trench.If there is minerals to be had they will always come back,even months later.
    My dad said one time in Mn,there was a natural mineral lick he knew of,It was 7 foot deep and 15 feet in diameter.He use to hunt right in it.

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