Best Deer Feeders Reviewed and Tested
Deer feeders don’t have to be overly complex to be useful. Other than a digital timer here and there, technology hasn’t really infiltrated feeders like other hunting equipment. With that in mind, it’s exactly that type of traditional rooting that helped shape the top ten list for the best deer feeders when deer hunting.
Moultrie is going to be the all-around leader in this category since they offer traditional and technical versions of the feeders. Outside of feeders Moultrie is a big name with hunting, so there is also the bonus of instant compatibility with the rest of their products.
Our Top 3 Picks
- Deer and Livestock Z-200
- Removable bottom
- Moultrie MFG-13104
- 40 pounds capacity
- Moultrie MFG-13053
- Vermint guard
Maintenance and Cleaning Tips
Feeders can get backed up due to aggressive animals, so keeping it maintained is a must. Maintenance is more important than keeping it clean, as hunter would rather it smell like the environment it is in so it’s a more attractive feeding place. So other than unclogging it when needed, no other maintenance is required outside of changing batteries if necessary.
10 Best Deer Feeders
1. Deer and Livestock Z-200
There is nothing wrong with being simple if a product works as intended. Zenature took the most basic concept and made a feeder that attracts the most game.
Features and Specifications
White pine wood and 100% metal free
The simplicity of the setup makes for a low buy in price. And since it doesn’t need batteries or other external equipment, that’s even less money out of your pocket.
Sometimes the old ways are the best, which is something that Zenature has proven thoroughly. This is the most dependable feeder you can buy with a price that is consumer friendly.
- Attracts the most animals in an area
- Can also be used for gardening or as a cooler
- No varmint protection
2. Moultrie MFG-13104
There are no smoke and mirrors with how the unit operates, as it uses a gravity driven design to disperse food. Not only is this method proven, but it is highly effective at getting the right amount of food out at all times.
Features and Specifications
UV resistant plastic housing
40 pound capacity
This is the lowest priced feeder on the list, but also the lowest tech. Considering how well it works, that shouldn’t be a problem in accessing its long time value.
With the right placement this can be the best feeder you’ve ever purchased. It’s simple, and relies on gravity to get the job done.
- Comes with strap for multiple mounting purposes
- Batteries are not required
- Misses some of the useful programming features of tech driven feeders
3. Moultrie MFG-13053
With the adapter in play, this feeder can be mounted to any hopper or barrel. That is insane flexibility, and can really help if you have something already set up near the hunting grounds.
Features and Specifications
Feed level estimator with battery indicator
Make sure to get the first generation version of this and it will be worth it. The price is low, so there should be no problems worrying about wasted money.
Speed can make a big difference when you have a lot to set up during the hunt. You can count on this model to not slow you down when it counts.
- Great battery life from a single 6 volt
- Quick-lock adapter is a must for speed
- Newer version lacks same quick-lock functionality
4. HCO CLP-225
Rust resistant and strong in the elements, this feeder also has the best varmint protection. The metal construction will keep them from chewing through it like other feeders.
Features and Specifications
Weighs 9 pounds
Holds 225 pounds of feed
Buyers will get their money’s worth with this feeder, even if it is high priced. The amount of years it will last before needing a replacement will put a smile on your face.
This is the highest priced feeder on the list for a reason, and it provides enough features to be worth it. Hunters will be able to set it up anywhere without worrying about the elements getting to it.
- Fantastic build quality
- Can be set up and broken down quickly
5. Moultrie Tripod
Within minutes you’ll be able to program it to feed 6 times per day between 1-20 second increments. Once set, it is dependable enough to not get out of alignment.
Features and Specifications
Adjustable fill height to 5.5, 7 or 8 feet
External power port
Even with a weak varmint guard, the mid-high price of this feeder is worth it. There is a lot of positive value behind this feeder and the company that made it.
Moultrie comes through with a winner once again, proving that there is more to a feeder than the small things. It’s close to being the best on the list, and with a stronger varmint guard would’ve been #1.
- High durability in bad conditions
- Wind resistant metal spin plate
- Varmint guard is average quality
6. American Hunter 30591
This American Hunter product can fit the bulk of the feeding containers on the market. High compatibility means less money spent on buying a new feeding container.
Features and Specifications
Digital clock timer with guard
Weather resistant housing
This is one of the lower priced products on the list, but make sure to invest in some quality batteries. With some branded batteries, you’ll get the most use out of this product.
Using a lot of power will only affect batteries that are generic, so shop accordingly. With a good set of batteries, this becomes one of the top purchases on the list.
- Uses very little space
- Timer is accurate with different amounts of food
- Eats through batteries
7. Redneck Outdoors T-post
Using a simple system, the height at the bottom of the feeding tube is adjustable. Users can angle it from 34-60 degrees without too much of a hassle.
Features and Specifications
80 pound capacity
It hovers at around an average price, so the features fit the costs. With a very solid build, it will last for years without breaking.
This is one of the low tech options on the list, and also one of the most reliable. A little bit of research will prove just how powerful this can be during the season.
- Mounts with a tree with ratchet straps
- Specifically designed for T-posts
- Paint to mount to anything non-T-posts
8. Moultrie MFHP53764
Using an all metal diamond shaped spinner plate, the Pro Magnum has superior varmint protection. There will be no worries about what is picking at the food you put out during the season.
Features and Specifications
Battery indicator with external power port
Large LCD screen with programmable timer
At an average price consumers will get a top grade feeder. You won’t have any complaints about the setup or construction of the unit.
The Pro Magnum has a healthy amount of fans that have used it for multiple seasons. It’s a fair priced deer feeder that will get the job done right.
- Solidly built for longevity and varmint protection
- Only one 6 volt battery required
- Digital timer is not the best
9. Moultrie MFG-13059
Even though the capacity is listed at 200 pounds, the weight of the initial weight of the feeder itself is only 30 pounds. That makes a big difference in placement since it is so lightweight.
Features and Specifications
Mounts to any barrel or hopper
Can feed up to 6 times per day in 1-20 second intervals
Just like the previous product, the price is on the mid-high level. Due to the branding and great features, it is more than worth the price tag.
Moultrie is a brand leader for a reason, and this is one of their best feeders to date. Buyers will have no problems at all setting this up for the first time.
- Great construction material even with the accessories
- Built in varmint guard to keep unwanted critters out
- Feed level estimator can be a bit off
10. American Hunter RD-225PROVB
With 225 pounds of available feed space, this is a great choice for putting in remote areas. That way you won’t have to travel out to refill it in undesirable locations.
Features and Specifications
Digital clock timer and guard
Resistant to wind and grain trickle
A little bit of time with this medium-high priced feeder will show its value. There is a lot of potentials, and it can even be used without the included tripod.
When there is a place that you don’t want to keep checking up on, this is the best model to get. It has more than enough space to last a full season and beyond.
- Comes bundled with varmint buster accessory
- One of the largest feeders you can purchase
Leg support is a bit flimsy
Criteria For Evaluation
Feeders have a lot of differences, even if they are used for the same thing. Our criteria for evaluation looked at these differences to find which ones gave an advantage to the customer. Some were clear cut, while others required more testing to find their strengths and weaknesses. Moultrie was the best all-around brand on the list, but there were plenty of other top products that stood out.
Power usage only included electric feeders, so traditional ones were not affected by this criteria. We looked at average power consumption to see how long a single charge would last a feeder. Products that didn’t last the entire season were taken off of the top ten. At the very least, electric feeders should last the season even when they are on a busy schedule. Extra points were given to products that showed promise for multiple seasons since they benefited customers with larger workable areas. These feeders made it further up on the list and come highly recommended.
Durability was our next criteria, and covered waterproofing, material quality and longevity. You can truly judge the value of a feeder by looking at the materials used to make it. While we did show preference for waterproof products, we were more concerned about the actual build quality. So there were some models with waterproof protection that didn’t make the list. That’s not uncommon, and shows that the feature is nice to have but not the ultimate decider of what makes a good feeder. We also removed feeders that did a bad job of keeping bacteria out since it led to moldy and stale food.
Feed support covered the type of food that could be used, the amount and of course the size of the feeding area. These three things together were hard to find in some products, which led to us cutting down the feeders in the list early. There was no favoritism in the type of food that was compatible, and it was more about how many types the feeder supported out of the box. Having a diverse mix of food attracts more deer and also keeps their diet healthy so they come back for more. With the feeders that won out in this criteria, they had a higher chance of getting deer to come back to the same spot.
Extras was another electric-only feature that we sorted through, mainly to look at how feeders handled scheduling. Some used simple scheduling features that didn’t even require a read of the manual. Others were complex, doing a good job of mixing in preset and custom scheduling options. We rewarded products with the latter since they were the most useful, but there were only a few feeders with custom scheduling options. They were sorted on the list appropriately, gaining an advantage over a lot of the other feeders with default options.
Customer support was all about the instructions/media available for a product online, chat/email/call options and website design. Products that lacked online information proved to be troublesome for customers that had a lot of questions. If the company’s website didn’t provide any usable information, customer support was expected to step up beyond the usual warranty complaint. A lot of company’s passed this criteria with flying colors. The wealth of information on their website about feeders was plentiful. Customers of any experience had all of the tools necessary to set up their feeder after browsing online. Only one or two products had to be removed from the top ten for failing this criteria, so it looked really good for the bulk of the industry.
Price was the easiest criteria to go through since most of the products were low priced. With even the most advanced feeders having an acceptable price range, we were able to fully shape the top ten by removing overpriced products. If an expensive product was left on the list, it had a remarkable feature set that couldn’t be duplicated by lower priced feeders.
Homemade VS Purchased Deer Feeders
With the prices of outdoor stuff going up on a daily basis, it is understandable when people start to ask whether they should purchase an item or actually make it for themselves. One of these items that look easy to make are deer feeders. However, even though making one may look easy and cheap enough that you may actually be tempted to think that buying one is a waste of money, this is not the case in practice.
There are a number of things that you will need to consider if you are going to make one. This is the reason why we have decided to compare homemade versus purchased deer feeders. However, before we compare the two, let’s answer a lingering question among many; why use a deer feeder.
Feeding deer happens at different levels for many reasons. Among hunters, it could be a method of luring the animal into a space where it can be killed easily. For the wildlife conservationist, it could be a method of ensuring that animals continue to get proper nutrition during times when temperatures are very low and the snow is falling hard. You would also appreciate that deer feeders are useful when managing sick animals, those in rehabilitation or those that live in such places as zoos or research centers.
The main difference between a homemade and purchased deer feeder is that the purchased one is likely to be safer. The reason behind this is that companies that manufacture products mostly have to meet stringent regulatory and industry standards. Apart from this if a company manufactures a product that does not meet quality standards, it is not likely to be in business for very long as customers generally tend to steer clear of bad products.
Also, review sites such as ours are always looking at products that enter the market with a view of appraising them. A bad product will soon be identified. Hence, when you purchase a deer feeder, you are more likely to walk away with a well-made product.
Unless you really know what you are doing, attempting to make your own deer feeder at home may pose a hazard not only for the animal but also yourself. Let’s start with you: if you are trying to use materials and tools that you don’t have the skill to use, you are likely to injure yourself of those around you. Apart from this, you may not be clear as to how safe the material that you are using is to the animal. Manufacturers usually have teams of researchers that look at these things and continuously improve processes and products.
With regards to the animal, if the homemade deer feeder does not have an insert large enough to allow the animal to get its head out once it gets it inside, it can lead to the death or injury of the animal. This is the reason why making your own deer feeder should be done only if you really understand what you are doing.
When it comes to design, it is most likely that a purchased deer feeder has been manufactured by specialists who understand what elements should be considered when designing the feeder. For instance, the designer needs to understand that the feed should be protected, and animals should not just have open access to it.
Apart from ensuring that the food is not accessible willy-nilly to the animal, manufactured feeders would usually protect the feed from wetness. You certainly don’t want to deal with spoiled and soggy feed. Also included in most purchased deer feeders is a mechanism which ensures that the food is not open to nuisance animals. Apart from also needing to be durable, the feeder should have a kind of dispenser. If you purchase one, you are likely to get something big enough which does not require you to keep filling it.
As you can see, while making your own deer feeder at home could look like a good idea, there are many things that you will need to consider. Considering that many people are not experts at identifying the right material and might also not have the intricate tools commercial manufacturers have, one could conclude that heading to a good retailer to buy one may actually be a better idea.
If you are really pressed for cash, homemade deer feeders could be a cheap alternative. The advantage of going with something cheap and homemade is that you could make a number of them. However, we always wonder how many people actually have the time to make these feeders at home. Also, in order for you to take advantage of the savings you can get from a homemade deer feeder you have to know a few tips.
While its quite easy to think that you are saving costs by making your own deer feeder, if you don’t calculate your costs properly, you could easily end up spending more than it takes to just buy one from the local retailer or online and have it delivered to your house. For instance, when you attempt to make one, do you get all the tools and materials at the same place? If you have to drive around to get them, do you consider the amount of fuel you use to get there? Also, it takes time to make one for yourself and if you don’t take that time into account, it’s easy to spend valuable time doing something that you could have easily just picked up from your local hunting retailer or from an online one.
If you ask us for advice on whether you should buy or make your own deer feeder at home, we will advise you to just purchase one. Retailers have different types that fit into different budgets. Buying one will ensure that you are likely to get something that is safe, well designed, and will probably last you longer. You also reserve your time for doing other stuff.
Can Generic Batteries Be Used?
Surprisingly, yes. Unless you get a model that uses a lot of battery power, using generic batteries is fine since most of the models use very little power through the day.
How Important Is The Varmint Guard?
It depends on what type of game you’re hunting. If varmints in your area tend to keep your game away, then the guard is a must. Just remember that some situations would benefit from having varmints occupy a small area to bring out the bigger game.
Do Feeders Need To Be Cleaned?
No, unless there is something blocking them from functioning. You want the feeder to smell like the environment it is in, so leaving the ‘stench’ on it is important.
How Many Feeders Should One Person Buy?
Herd size will determine how many feeders you should purchase (and also the size of each). There is no real hard count for each, but a good average would be one feeding station for each 25 deer. It is better to have lesser amount of feeders than too many, since too much can actually harm the deer. If a clear deer count isn’t available, then use land as an average. For every 400 acres, place one feeder in a good place. Acres or head count is a good variable to go by when deciding on the amount of feeders to buy.
Does Placement Matter?
Placement is a big deal to deer, so if the feeder is in an awkward place then they won’t gather to eat. Transition areas in an already habituated area is best, but in truth experimentation will be required to get the best results. The trick is to put it in areas where it looks the most natural without hindering your chance to scout. Areas where tree stands can look over the feeder without being noticed is a nice touch. This isn’t uncommon, and can be great for using through multiple seasons. Another note to placement is to avoid areas where other wildlife mix since they will try to use the feeders more than the deer.
What Is The Average Amount Of Feed That Deer Go Through Daily?
Habitat conditions determine this amount, and will vary wildly even if you crunch the numbers. Deer take in about 1.5% of their body weight at max, and that was based off of the type of feed that was used. That number can easily change to 3% of their body weight if a varied mix of feed is used that satisfies their nutritional needs. With the numbers not really having an average, it is a better idea to look at the type of food used rather than the average per deer. As mentioned before, having less food is better than overfeeding deer.
Do You Have To Use A Specific Kind Of Feed?
For some models, yes. Feeders are sorted based on their type, meaning that gravity designs will have different feed choices than a trough design. Usually you can spot the compatibility of the food on both the feed and feeder product specifications. There is no way to miss it, and it is a rather vital point of information if you want to maintain efficiency. Putting the wrong type of food into a product will cause problems, notably with electronic feeders. Jam ups happen because of this, leading to a very difficult cleaning process. Always use the type of feed that is recommended for the product rather than guessing its type.
Is There A Guarantee That Feeders Will Attract Deer?
No guarantees can be given on the effectiveness of feeder products. There are a lot of things to consider, starting with the type of deer that are in the area. Once you get past that, the placement of the feeder comes into play. Is it a quality feeder that deer won’t second guess? Next up is the type and quality of the feed used for attracting deer. Animals eat from multiple sources, and there is a chance that they may not want the type of food you’ve put out. This pickiness with their diet leads to different scenarios where you will have repeat deer and sometimes no deer at all.
Can Food Plots Be Used In Combination With Feeders?
Food plots are planted areas made to nourish wildlife. They contain legumes, wildflowers, grains and more. A good use for them is after a crop has been harvested, which in turn helps with the natural flow of nature through the changing seasons. It is still different from revegetation, so the use of food plots with feeders makes a lot of sense if you are striving for food diversity in your scouting or hunting area. There are many benefits to having both, and it ensures a repeat source of food for deer even if the feeder is not meeting their daily nutritional needs.
Can Old Food Harm The Deer?
Yes, and it leads to digestive and reproductive issues in deer. Most deer are smart enough to stay away from bad food, but some will be desperate enough to ignore the clear warning signs. That is why it’s a good idea to check on feeders and change out old or moldy food. A lot of this also comes down to getting a feeder that has good protection from outside elements. Waterproof feeders are recommended if they aren’t placed in an already protected area. When feeders continue to serve bad food, deer will move on to another source and force you to change up your strategy.
Are Electric Models Better?
When you have no plans to return to an area after setting up a feeder, electronic feeders turn out to be the better option. This is usually the situation for areas that aren’t on your land, or for spots that don’t have good scouting positions. Battery operated feeders are usually gravity types, and are the perfect products to set up and leave alone. Power lasts for many months without needing to change out the batteries, even if you set it up to have a busy schedule. But even with these advantages, electric feeders are still an optional buy.
How Can Laws Affect The Way You Handle Deer Feed?
There are laws in effect that restrict not only the use of bait, but also feeders. Like all laws regarding animals, things will be different depending on what state you’re in. Laws change on a yearly basis, so it is always a good idea to check up on these changes so that fines don’t add up. Feed laws are in effect to keep deer from gathering too much in one place and spreading illness. This is a big concern when food is scarce in the area and they are fighting, or when they go too far away from their natural habitat and have to deal with unavoidable predators.
What Is Acidosis?
Acidosis affects deer that consume large quantities of digestible carbohydrates. This isn’t isolated to deer, and has also been found to trouble elk. On the serious side of acidosis, when it spreads it results in the death of multiple mammals in good physical condition. It can go from a minor bother to a huge problem in areas where lots of deer gather. This is how diseases are spread, even when they start off in small groups. The problem is treatment is troublesome since the condition causes death 24-72 hours. The only solution is prevention by having a balance of the correct feed available so animals don’t overindulge.
Are All Feeders Waterproof?
No, and that is exactly why placement is a big part of making the most out of a feeder. When your product doesn’t come with a locking lid or lacks waterproof features, then putting it in a covered area will protect it from the elements. But even with good placement or mechanics, food is still goes bad over time or is introduced to bacteria that makes it moldy. This can also happen if you keep water near the feeder for the deer to use. In the end, waterproof feeders are great to have but don’t guarantee that the food will remain fresh for multiple seasons.
How Does A Locking Mechanism Help?
A locking mechanism is helpful when you need to limit food in an area to specific times of the day for non-electric feeders. It also keeps out aggressive animals like bears, wolves and other predators that scare away deer. When you notice food is getting old and can’t immediately empty the feeder, simply lock it up until a changeover is possible. Having a locking mechanism opens up a lot of options that would otherwise require separate pieces. Not all feeders have it available, so always check the features.
How To Make The Best Decision
Since technology doesn’t rule in the deer feeder industry, make your choice based on the product that suits your needs best. Hunters that have a varmint problem that scares away their intended game may want to settle on a product with a good guard. In other situations varmints can attract the bigger game so going without a guard may be a better approach. Purchase based on your experience in the field, and you’ll get the correct feeder.