How to Build an Inexpensive, Durable Deer Feeder


Jeff Neal's inexpensive deer feeder will last for several years and hold about 250 pounds of food. (DDH Photo: Alan Clemons)

Jeff Neal’s inexpensive deer feeder will last for several years and hold about 250 pounds of food. (DDH Photo: Alan Clemons)

Jeff Neal has tried a variety of different feeders for his property in southeast Ohio, everything from spincast models on tripods and hangers to gravity-style feeders like the very cool Feed Bank from Banks Outdoors.

Neal is Vice President of Sales & Marketing with Kalmbach Feeds, which produces the line of Heartland Wildlife Institute feed, attractant and plot seeds. The company has been focused on high-quality livestock feed for more than half a century, and has put that knowledge into its line of deer products.

Neal is a bit of a tinkerer; he’ll try something new or different, sometimes on a whim or at the suggestion of someone else, to see how it works or if it doesn’t. During a recent visit he showed me a large, plastic hanging feeder he liked — until he found 17 squirrels inside.

“They chewed through the top, got in to get to the Autumn Addiction and then died because they couldn’t get out,” he said. “That was kind of nasty.”

At one of his plots, though, Neal had a good ol’ redneck feeder that looked like a winner. Anyone with the ability to wield a hammer and screwdriver could put it together.

First, he got a wooden pallet like the ones big retail stores get with goods on them. A 1-inch thick sheet of treated plywood was cut to fit the size of the pallet, then nailed on securely. On top of that, Neal had a standard metal garbage can (with lid) that he had spray-painted with brown-green stripes to knock off the sheen.

The garbage can is securely screwed through its bottom into the plywood (which is nailed atop the pallet). Four holes about the size of a small tangerine — maybe two inches wide, tops — can be cut at the base of the can. Secure the lid with a rubber bungie cord that latches to the can’s handles.

You can get these set up, cart them into the woods on your ATV or pickup, and then have feeders here ‘n there on your property. Where legal, of course.

Neal fills his feeders with Heartland Wildlife Institute Autumn Addiction, which has whole corn, roasted soybeans, black oil sunflower seeds, cane molasses and minerals including magnesium oxide, calcium carbonate, Vitamin A, D and E supplements, copper sulfate and zinc sulfate. It’s 15 percent crude protein and 9 percent crude fat, both of which are helpful to deer.

Plus, it smells great. The molasses has a super aroma. I watched deer of all ages eat it for four days like fat kids at a buffet.

“With this (can) feeder, I can get about 240 pounds of Autumn Addiction or other feed in there and it probably cost me about $40 to make,” Neal said. “They’re not hard to make at all and they’ll last for a long time.

“The small holes are so the deer and other wildlife, especially raccoons, don’t just wipe out your can of food. But it’s an easy way to have good feeders on your property.”

So, there you go. Knock out a few feeders over winter to get ready for feeding in spring or summer, or build them now before winter arrives.