An Introduction to Deer Feeders

When you start shopping for a deer feeder, it’s not going to take you very long to figure out that there a significant number of deer feeder models on the market, and every model offers a different method of feeding, along with different features. Now, depending on your specific needs, not every feeder is going to work for you. Some will end up potentially being “too much” feeder, while others may not offer the specific features that you want.

So, before you start deer feeder shopping, let’s help you get better educated on deer feeders.

While there are a number of different styles of deer feeders on the market, for the most part, deer feeders can be loosely categorized into three distinct types of feeders:

  • Gravity Feeders
  • Broadcast Feeders
  • Trough Feeders

Let’s look at each style in more detail:

Gravity Feeders

This type of feeder is the more basic of the two types as it relies on gravity to get the deer food dispersed out for feeding. Gravity feeders can range from very simple to operate, all the way up to the more complicated models with a number of feature-based bells and whistles.

As with any feeder style, gravity based feeders have a number of good and bad points. The two biggest disadvantages to gravity based feeders include:

  • Tend to have a smaller feed capacity compared to other styles
  • Are easily accessed by squirrels and raccoons, who consume the feed.
Example of a Gravity-based Feeder

Broadcast Feeders

Broadcast feeders are also known by a number of other names, including spin feeders, spinner feeders, whirley feeders, etc. This type of feeder uses a broadcast action (which normally consists of a cup that spins) to throw food out across a wide area. Like a gravity feeder, broadcast feeders can also range from the very simple models, all the way up to models that are powered by solar-based electricity and run on a timer.

The broadcast style feeders are the most common and most popular style on the market.

Example of a Broadcast-based Feeder

Trough Feeders

Trough based feeders are fairly self-explanatory as they feature a trough where you load food into for deer to feed on. While some hunters use trough based feeders, most trough feeders that are commercially sold are really more geared towards the wildlife fans who are feeding deer in their backyard.

Example of a Trough-based Feeder

Now that we’ve covered the three most basic types of deer feeders, it’s important to also go over the different styles of feeders:

Feeder Styles


Bag Feeders

Very much like their name, a bag feeder uses a bag to store the feed, and then some usually either gravity or broadcast to disperse the food. Bag feeders can typically be mounted to either the side of a tree or post or also be mounted in a hanging position.

Bag feeders offer a number of pros and cons, but the biggest advantage being their ease of transportation and set-up. Their biggest con is the fact that the bag itself offers little protection from other animals who also like to dine on the feed, and the size of the feeder bag plays a role in how often it has to be refilled.

Tripod Feeders

Tripod feeders are probably the most popular feeder style for hunters and feature a feeder mounted atop a tripod. The feed is normally dispensed either via gravity or via a broadcast action.

Tripod-based feeders come in various sizes and the larger the feeder, the more difficult to transport and set-up. Tripod also tend to be the most feature-rich feeders with many having features like a timer, solar-powered options, and extra-large bins for holding a large amount of feed.

Hanging Feeders

As the name implies, hanging feeders are designed to be hung off a tree branch, post, or pole. Hanging feeders come in a number of styles that range from very simplistic models all the way up to models with features similar to those found on higher-end tripod feeders.

The biggest advantage with the hanging feeder models is the fact that they are easier to transport and set-up compared to a tripod-style feeder. Most hunters who use hanging feeders, mount them to a tree branch, so they blend into the terrain a little better than a tripod-based deer feeder.

Stump Feeders

Stump feeders have been around for quite a while and are basically just a feeder that is built to look like a stump. They are popular with both hunters and wildlife fans as they hide well in the woods or in a backyard.

Most stump feeders rely on gravity to deliver the feed, but there are a few models that use an internal broadcast system to kind of throw feed out from the stump.

Homemade Deer Feeders

While this isn’t really a style that you see commercially, making a deer feeder by hand is very popular and there are quite a few how-to plans on the internet. Those plans are a mix of models designed for backyard use with some homemade feeder models designed for use by hunters in the field. In another part of the site, I’m going to put together some resources for homemade deer feeder plans.

At the end of the day, you have to decide which deer feeder style works best for you and that decision will come down to a number of factors such as:

  • What’s the reason for providing the deer supplemental feed?
  • How often will you be able to refill the feeder?
  • How much land or area are you trying to cover with a feeder?
  • What’s the deer population in the area you plan to feed?
  • Is it legal to feed the deer in your state? If so, what are the restrictions on that feeding?
  • Will you be servicing and refilling the feeder alone or do you have help available?

And I’ll get deeper into each of those factors throughout the site.

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