Quarterly informative articles written by our certified wildlife biologist, Bobby Deeds.

The Truth About Corn

Most hunters where legal and especially those in Texas know that it is common practice to bait deer to allow for a more ethical shot and give us another tool to allow hunters to be more selective in harvesting animals. Hunting deer over bait allows us to be more effective managers by allowing us to study deer to be sure they are mature and assess trophy quality before harvest. It also allows us to address the primary concern of overpopulation on most mismanaged properties by allowing hunters more opportunity to reduce numbers.

With most hunters growing up hunting behind a spincast feeder or over a pile of yellow corn and seeing how well deer consume it, we automatically assume that it is good for them. Corn does have nutritional value and is a good ingredient to be used in a ration, but when fed alone at high levels it can actually do more harm than good. Corn is basically deer candy, it is high in starch and can cause digestive upsets when deer are not conditioned to it and too much is consumed, (typically over ½ pound/hd/day). Corn is one of the best attractants we have and there is not a deer in the country that will not readily consume shelled corn. Corn is in turn often fed free choice as a nutritional supplement since many people associate automatic feed acceptance with nutritional quality. Most are unaware that this practice can hinder production more than it will actually help them by lowering rumen ph and affecting rumen microbial populations in the animals gut. “I have never killed a deer with corn”, I have heard this many times from managers, but this is because deer will actually self limit intake of free choice corn when there are other forages available. Although it is rare for deer to consume free choice corn to the point of acute acidosis and dying, once they consume enough they can experience what is known as chronic acidosis and begin to experience negative postingestive feedback which will usually be enough to discourage further intake. The damage has already been done though and the microbial population has been effected to the point that they will not be able to effectively digest other forages they may consume until rumen ph has corrected. Simply put, the more bugs or microbials in the rumen the healthier the deer and deer fed high starch feeds that aren’t conditioned to them will have lower rumen microbial populations. It’s a lot like skittles for your kids, they will come running for a hand full, but give them a bucket full and you are sure for a sour stomach.

Don’t be afraid to use corn as an attractant, in my opinion there is no better attractant for the money and it is much more effective as a bait than a lot of the other “deer candies” available on the market. I would be sure that it is well cleaned, comes from a reputable source, and has less than 20ppb aflatoxin to prevent depressed immune systems in young animals and game birds. Corn has its place in some rations and as an attractant, but if you are concerned about supplementing your deer to improve production, we need to be talking about balanced rations that promote rumen health and complement native habitat. Every management program is different and there is really not a one size fits all approach to supplementation. If you would like to visit about your current program and learn how proper supplementation can improve production feel free to contact us anytime.

Good Hunting!


Bobby Deeds

Record Rack Deer Feeds