How to Make a DIY Deer Feeder
Attract Deer and Wild Turkey With a Wildlife Feeder
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. Small groups do 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. Just a couple of boards are enough material 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 and turkeys and others will come.
How to Make a 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
- Attach the sides (Part A) to the Back (Part B) using screws or nails.
- Next, attach the bottom (Part D) to the back and sides, again using screws or nails.
- 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.
- Attach the tray front (Part F) across the bottom, forming a tray to hold the feed in the box.
- 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.
- 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.
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 cracked corn 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.
DIY Deer Feeder Plans
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Tips for Attracting Deer to Your Deer 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 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 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, and the locals will come!
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 from 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.
Hanging Out With Deer in the Woods
White-Tailed Deer Visiting Our Backyard Wildlife Feeder
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?
How Do You Feel About Deer in Your Yard?
© 2011 Anthony Altorenna