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How to Make a DIY Deer Feeder

Anthony enjoys spending time in the workshop, kitchen, garden, and out fishing. Many of his DIY projects are featured in his yard.

Visitors at the deer feeder

Visitors at the deer feeder

Deer Feeder Plans (Works for Turkeys, Too!)

Our homemade deer feeder gets lots of visitors. Deer are creatures of habit, and once they find a food source in their territory, they routinely come back to the same area again and again in search of food. The feed box in the photo has been in the same location for many years and has seen several generations of deer. The does bring their fawns to the feeder box and when the young deer mature, they return with their young. Though large bucks are notoriously skittish, it is not uncommon to spot a hungry buck at the deer feeder in search of a treat.

This deer feeder box is quick and easy to make from pine or cedar boards, which are inexpensive and readily available at any home center or lumber yard. You'll need just a couple of boards to make this project.

The homemade deer feeder is basically a wooden box with a bin for storing the food. The slanted front panel creates a narrow opening along the bottom of the bin, allowing only a small amount of food to spill out. The lower tray holds the cracked corn, goat chow or deer feed of your choice in the box, yet gives easy access for the deer, turkeys and other animals to find the food and grab a bite to eat. A removable lid makes it convenient to fill the feed box, and you can add a salt lick or mineral block to give the deer another reason to stop by.

If you build it, the deer, turkeys and other wildlife will come to visit.

Building the feeder

Building the feeder

How to Make This Homemade Deer Feeder

The Parts Cutting List:

  • Part A (sides): 18" long by 8½" wide (quantity of two needed)
  • Part B (back): 18" long by 7½" wide
  • Part C (slanted front): 17" long by 7½" wide
  • Part D (bottom): 7¾ long by 7½" wide
  • Part E (lid): 10" long by 10½ " wide
  • Part F (tray front): 9" long by 2½ " wide

Assemble the Feeder Box

  1. Attach the sides (Part A) to the Back (Part B) using screws or nails.
  2. Next, attach the bottom (Part D) to the back and sides, again using screws or nails.
  3. Cut a 22½-degree bevel across one end of the slanted front (Part C). The bevel lines up against the top edges of the sides, forming a triangular bin with a small opening at the bottom. The opening at the bottom of the bin is approximately ¾ '' wide between the slanted front and the back of the feeder box.
  4. Attach the tray front (Part F) across the bottom, forming a tray to hold the feed in the box.
  5. Cut small cleats from a couple of scrap pieces to attach to the bottom of the lid (Part E). Position the cleats to hold the lid in the center of the box.
  6. Cut two more cleats to form a handle for the lid. Make the lower cleat narrower than the upper cleat, making it easier to grasp, and remove the lid for filling the feed box.
In construction

In construction

Hang Your New Deer Feeder Box

Mount the finished wildlife feeder box to a tree or a pole, with the tray approximately 16" above the ground, and fill the feeder with goat chow or specialty deer feed.

The deer, turkeys, squirrels, and chipmunks will find the feeder quickly. We have generations of deer who visit our feeder box regularly, including does with young fawns and even large bucks, who are often wary and seldom seen out in the open.

We also hang a salt lick near the wildlife feeder to attract more deer to the feeding area.

The pine used for this deer feeder box will weather naturally to a silvery-gray color. Depending on the conditions in your area, it will last for several years before the wood deteriorates and the chipmunks and squirrels chew on the edges of the box. If the feeder begins to lose its structural integrity, a few screws or replacement parts might extend its life. When the time comes, and the box is beyond repair, an hour or so is enough time to build another deer feeder.

Feeder box plans

Feeder box plans

Hanging the feeder on a tree

Hanging the feeder on a tree

Cleat Hanging System

Make a simple cleat system for hanging projects such as this wildlife feeder, birdhouses, and window boxes. The cleat is made by ripping a piece of stock at a 45-degree angle.

  1. Start with a piece of wood at least four inches wide, and slightly shorter than the width of the feeder. Tilt the table saw blade to 45 degrees, then set the fence to 2½" from the blade to rip the stock into two mirror-image pieces, each with a 45-degree bevel cut along one edge.
  2. Attached one of the pieces to the back of the project with the 45-degree angle of the cleat pointing downward to form an inverted "V" between the back of the feeder and the outside surface of the cleat.
  3. Attach the second piece where you want to hang the feeder, this time with the "V" of the cleat facing upward. Use weather-resistant screws, and make sure the cleat is level. When fitted together, the two 45-degree "V"s from each piece lock together to securely hold the feeder in place.
  4. Add a filler strip along the bottom edge of the feeder, below the cleat on the backside, to hold the feeder upright and plumb. Cut the filler strip to the same thickness as the cleats.
This doe is a frequent visitor to our deer feeder.

This doe is a frequent visitor to our deer feeder.

Tips for Attracting Deer to Your Feeder

Use quality deer feed, wildlife feed or goat feed to fill your deer feeder.

Place only small amounts of food into the deer feeder at a time. The intent is just to attract deer to the area, rather than making the deer become dependent on human-provided food. By offering small amounts of wildlife feed on a consistent basis, deer will visit the feeder routinely in search of their treat.

Deer love salt. Hang a salt lick near the deer feeder, and the deer will return to the area again and again. Salt licks are about the size of a brick, and they last for weeks. Salt licks are also cheap.

Place the deer feeder in an area away from gardens and landscape plantings. The deer feeder will not prevent the deer from eating your prized plants, but if it is located away from flower beds and shrubs, a feeder box can help to route the deer around your gardens. Planting native and deer-resistant plants will also help to reduce the damage from feeding deer, especially in the areas closest to the feeder.

If you put out a wildlife feeder and fill it with quality food, the locals will come!

A bunch of them!

A bunch of them!

White-Tailed Deer Facts

  • The white-tailed deer is named for its signature tail. When alarmed, the deer sprints away from danger with its tail raised upright. The white underside of the tail flashes like a flag, warning other deer of the potential dangers.
  • White-tailed deer lived in wooded areas in southern Canada and throughout most of the continental United States except for the Southwest.
  • Deer typically feed in the early morning and late in the early afternoon, bedding down in cover for most of the day. They eat fresh grass and green leaves during the spring and summer. During the fall and winter months, deer scrape away the snow and fallen leaves from the ground in search of acorns and nuts. They will also browse for twigs and buds.
  • Creatures of habit, white-tailed deer routinely use the same trails to travel between feeding and bedding areas. Their home range is about one square mile.
  • Deer are herbivores, and they only eat plants. In suburban areas with high deer populations, white-tails will raid yards and gardens to eat shrubs and perennials.
  • Only the male white-tailed deer grow antlers, which it sheds each year. A large male white-tailed deer can weigh up to 300 pounds. Females are smaller and typically weigh between 90 to 150 pounds. They can run up to 30 miles per hour and can leap a six-foot-tall fence. Deer are also excellent swimmers.
  • White-tailed deer mate in late fall and early winter. After a six-month gestation period, the females give birth to spotted fawns. Twins are common, but singles and triplets are not unusual.
  • Fawns can walk about birth, and run within a few hours. Females lick the young fawns to remove most of their scent, making it difficult for predators to find a hiding fawn.
White-tailed deer visiting our backyard wildlife feeder

White-tailed deer visiting our backyard wildlife feeder

What Do You Do?

In many areas of the country, deer populations are growing to the point where they are common in the suburbs and even in densely populated areas. And they are hungry—if you have deer in your area, what do you do?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: How does the deer feeder box handle the rain? Does water drain away somehow?

Answer: Our feeder box does not have any openings to drain away the rainwater. The large overhanging roof provides quite a bit of protection from the rain and snow, however you could drill several 1/4" diameter holes through the bottom of the box to let the rainwater escape.

Question: How much food can this deer feeder hold?

Answer: The bin holds a few pounds of feed. We do not fill the feeder because we don't want the deer to depend on us for their food. Instead, we put out small amounts of food as a treat for the deer. This is enough to attract them to the feeder, and they stop by almost every day in search of a snack.

© 2011 Anthony Altorenna

Please Share Your Experiences With Deer in Your Yard

Cynthia Skwortz from Pittsburgh on December 08, 2012:

I enjoyed the beautiful photography and deer feeder project you've featured here. There are many deer around my home and it's such a treat to view these majestic creatures. I know they would appreciate one of these feeders. Angel Blessings**

Josavich LM on November 13, 2012:

I have been wanting to start feeding the deer near our home your box is a great looking and looks easy to build. Thanks for the plans.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on October 11, 2012:

I have never done this but I have seen deers feeding on our neighbor's apples.

anonymous on October 04, 2012:

Build a deer feeder...and they will come, for hours of wild life watching pleasure and you know your helping them to get through the tough winters.

Lorelei Cohen from Canada on October 03, 2012:

Yesterday my husband set out the garbage on his way to work and I looked outside about an hour later to see a mama deer and her two fawns trying to break into the bag. Lol...I had been doing up the apples from our apple tree and threw the pits into the bag. Boy the deer do indeed have sensitive little noses. So the mama and I discussed things for about fifteen minutes and I think she figured out what I was trying to tell her.

Gregory Moore from Louisville, KY on September 25, 2012:

Great design on your home made feeder. We used to make them out of 5 gallon buckets and corrugated pipe, but your design looks much better!

julieannbrady on June 01, 2012:

My mom used to live on Big Pine Key in the Florida Keys and the deer were always in her yard. I've not yet had the pleasure here in Jacksonville to attract any deers into my yard.

Zut Moon on March 24, 2012:

We have resident deer at our cottage ... love to see them ...

Renaissance Woman from Colorado on December 23, 2011:

Thanks for yet another great DIY project with plans. I love deer and have visits once or twice a day on my property. I may put out a feeder this winter. There are twin fawns that were born very, very late in the season and are small for this time of year. I worry about them making it through a harsh winter. It has already been unseasonably frigid for a month. Maybe a feeder will help with their survival. It's definitely worth it to me.

Vicki Green from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA on October 03, 2011:

Great info about feeding and enjoying the deer. We have planted trees and and shrubs to help provide them with natural food, have a salt lick and give them a little bit of food in a deer feeder we made while protecting our garden and fruit trees with fencing to make sure all of us have something to eat!

anonymous on September 26, 2011:

This is so amazing, I did not know if one could attract deers, I thought they lived in wilderness.

Cynthia Sylvestermouse from United States on September 08, 2011:

Great instructions and of course, I love the photo! Due to so many houses being built around us, most of our deer have left our area, however we still have a few and they would love the feeders (and so would I)