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Helping deer over winter.....

Wi transplant

PMA Member
Years ago in mi u.p. I had lots of turnips under a bunch of deep snow and deer were trying to dig them up so I took my snow blower on my tractor and blew an acre clean of snow!! The deer loved me!!!!

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2.5YR8

Active Member
I've put out a couple alfalfa bales, and some corn. Plus the tops of all the trees I took down this fall/winter. All the deer look pretty good that have been hanging around. We have a doe that's missing a front leg that is really struggling getting around. I decided to put the bales out primarily for her. She is reliant on other deer to dig through the snow, and was starting to get pretty skinny.

She's been around since at least 2017, and is really the only deer I won't let anyone shoot on my property.
 

bwese

Active Member
2.5yr8, We had a doe like that here for ten years. She was one tough gal. I had same rule on her, no one could shoot her. She raised a few fawns into winter. I would clear snow off of clover plots for the deer but probably more so for her.

Just a heads up for those clearing areas of your clover/alfalfa of snow for the deer. 2 or three winters ago we had fairly deep/hard snow cover (for here) close to 2 months. I cleared open lanes on my clover/alfalfa plots and it winter killed it. The deer flocked to it. After spring green up the cleared lanes were clearly identifiable by the dead zone/weed zone outlined by the areas I didn't push the snow off of. Frost seeded it the following winter and it is now back to good production.
 

Farm boy

Member
2.5yr8, We had a doe like that here for ten years. She was one tough gal. I had same rule on her, no one could shoot her. She raised a few fawns into winter. I would clear snow off of clover plots for the deer but probably more so for her.

Just a heads up for those clearing areas of your clover/alfalfa of snow for the deer. 2 or three winters ago we had fairly deep/hard snow cover (for here) close to 2 months. I cleared open lanes on my clover/alfalfa plots and it winter killed it. The deer flocked to it. After spring green up the cleared lanes were clearly identifiable by the dead zone/weed zone outlined by the areas I didn't push the snow off of. Frost seeded it the following winter and it is now back to good production.
Extremely good valuable point you make on the alfalfa and clover, if that ground freezes so hard and heaves it breaks the roots.
The only stuff I've cleared so far is turnip, radishes and rutabagas.


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Hardwood11

It is going to be a good fall!
One thing that may be a factor in Iowa or MO this year is some die off fruit trees? Maybe Skip could expand on that? I would guess it could come into play?
 

turkeyriver

PMA Member
If you've been feeding deer corn and hay all winter, they will be able to digest it fine. If they have been just living on browse till now, a pile of corn is the worst thing you could do. We had a terrible winter back in 00-01. DNR said grassy hay was the best for starving deer. They will eat grass if they're hungry. They've been pawing through the snow to eat the grass at my place and I know from experience they will eat grassy hay.
 

Sligh1

Administrator
Staff member
Fruit tree die off in iowa & MO should not be an issue.

our winter, so far, is not as bad as 2 winters ago. Right NOW - probably ok for most deer. If this continues- “stress” will get worse.... which can be anything from death to simply growing a smaller rack next year or .... like previously mentioned- aborted fawns.

Agree with above on corn. Back when I was a kid - we watched a video in biology class about the starvation of deer in the UP of MI.... this was like 25 years ago but I remember in the video - the deer would come running into the sound of a chainsaw. That’s how starving they were. Fresh buds hitting the ground is FOOD.

If u are gonna do some TSI..... go do it NOW vs a month from now. If u wanna “hack” some trees..... go thin out the inferior shagbark hickories. Any bitternut. Elm, hackberry, ash, etc - hard to make a mistake if u focus on those. Or thinning out a bulk or tight cluster of trees and knocking down the crappy ones while leaving the best ones. That’s an easy place to start. ONE or TWO gas/chain oil fills of a chainsaw with a sharp chain would provide a good amount of instant good browse.
 

MN Hunter

Active Member
Just FYI, Minnesota does a winter severity index to determine how deer are doing in Minnesota. It has to be combo of cold temps and deep snow to make it severe (the number usually hits like 130+ for it to be considered severe (don't quote my exact number). There is not one area that is even at 50 right now.

How Iowa determines the severity I do not know, but my guess is that most deer will make it no problem. But if you can help, with hay, beans or corn, cutting down a few trees, etc... Good idea

*Iowa deer might be more susceptible to a tough winter, I am not sure?
In southern Minnesota the WSI is a little different then the northern part of the state. This year the winter severity index in the southeastern part of Minnesota will be 32. 32 indicates the number of weeks the deer have been/will be hunted in 2020/2021. I’m so thankful we don’t have all the snow and ice Iowa and northern Minnesota have. The way it is right now the deer are still able to paw and scavenge in the crop fields.
 

Wi transplant

PMA Member
Grass red cedar pine are all starvation foods its the lowest on there preference list with very low nutritional value. If deer are eating these its all they got!! Most of the time if they are eating on a lawn there after the clover and other plants not grass

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CurtisWalker

Moderator
Deer might be fine but the pheasants are struggling. I’ve been putting out milo, corn, alfalfa, and wheat. Just to help out everything.





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Deer might be fine but the pheasants are struggling. I’ve been putting out milo, corn, alfalfa, and wheat. Just to help out everything.





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Goon on you and thanks for doing that. We just can't seem to string together 2 or 3 good years for pheasants and quail.
 

Sligh1

Administrator
Staff member
Goon on you and thanks for doing that. We just can't seem to string together 2 or 3 good years for pheasants and quail.
I hear you there, those things never catch a break... winters, rough springs, etc. When you see pics like above, it's mind boggling down south where I've NEVER seen birds like that ever .... & we have the habitat. TONS of native grasses, shrubs, food, etc. But, the predators are just insane. Kinda think that's the major issue. Amount of coons, possums, coyotes, hawks - just incredible. At the same time, why the turkey #'s are so high?!?!?!? I guess I can't totally wrap my head around this. o_Oo_Oo_O
 

Misskiwi67

Member
There’s more corn than ever in the fields here in Derecho country, but very few deer are digging for it. We could see the browse disappearing and they were constantly on the move during hours we normally wouldn’t see them.

We started putting out corn for the first time ever. There’s tons of crop fields around so I don’t feel like we’re giving them anything they would have access to, we just aren’t making them dig for it.

We’ve also gotten permission from several farmers to plow snow near fences and cover we would normally see them digging near. They just aren’t digging right now, the snow is so deep.




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JOSHBRNDT

Active Member
Has anyone put out the horse pellets they sell at Theisens? I looked at what is in it and looks about the same as what they put in the deer pellets but its $5 cheaper. The only thing I can see is the difference is the 12% protein vs 18% which is recommended for deer.
 

Sligh1

Administrator
Staff member
Has anyone put out the horse pellets they sell at Theisens? I looked at what is in it and looks about the same as what they put in the deer pellets but its $5 cheaper. The only thing I can see is the difference is the 12% protein vs 18% which is recommended for deer.
I would try it. Right now.... “good quality” vs “great quality” - not huge issue at the moment ..... Personally- IMO- if they eat it- calories & a good pellet form would help no doubt. Ongoing- being fussy & getting ingredients dialed in would be great - but right now survival and calories are king. Try it! & post up the response and price on it.
 

Wi transplant

PMA Member
I have fed those pellets in the past mix a little corn with them . It might take couple days to start hitting them but once they tried them they will eat them also


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abell3

Active Member
Common misconception about feeding corn, ie in harsh winters like what we are currently experiencing in Iowa. If corn is in your deer's diet it will be able to process it just fine with no lactic acid issues. You'll be hard pressed to find a deer herd in Iowa who doesn't have corn in their diet. Although some of us in here do im sure it is rare here in Iowa. Feed your deer corn and alfalfa and they will be just fine. Their rumen will have no issues digesting the feed.
 

Bucksnbears

Well-Known Member
I'm in nw mn.
Best winter we've had in years.
Maybe have 6" on the ground.
Deer are in great shape here.
I've seen my share of horrible winters. Breaks my heart watching critters starving.
 
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