Sweet apple cider is a traditional and highly effective food scent and flavor enhancer that appeals strongly to deer. No, I’m not talking about that stuff that gives you headaches the next day. Real, fresh, sweet apple cider can really help draw deer into your feeding area.
Who doesn’t like the smell of apples? Deer sure do, that’s for sure. I live in orchard country. I can drive down Peach Ridge through Fruitport, then jump on over to Apple Avenue. We know our fruits over here. But, we also know that we’re not alone. Whitetail deer wreak royal havoc on those orchards.
In most parts of the US, you can find wild or domestic apples growing. Apple is a scent that deer have associated with food for millennia. Apples are high in energy compared to most other wild food sources. They are also easy to digest and very tasty compared to grass and pine needles.
Any deer who has filled its belly with apples, even crab apples, will be having a pretty good day. They will also remember it, just like you probably remember the best pizza you’ve ever had. Given a whiff of sweet apples, they will remember that full belly of deliciousness and likely come right over for a hefty dinner.
Cider is a very seasonal product. Luckily for us, fresh cider is usually available right around the start of deer season. it’s sold by the gallon and one gallon will coat up to 50 pounds of corn. It’s easy to use, and the scent lingers for a while.
All you need to do is pour dry corn into a bucket, then pour the cider into it. Let it sit overnight so the cider will be soaked into the corn. you can dump, sprinkle, or scatter your cider corn in any manner you like. The added scent of apple will help deer find a new feeding location quickly and will give you an edge over the competition.
For the record, you can do the same thing with apple juice, but apple cider seems to work a tad better in my experience.
Molasses is a common deer feed additive with attractive properties similar to apple cider. It’s very sweet, and somewhat fragrant, but not as fragrant as apples. Molasses isn’t something deer can get in the wild, so a deer won’t recognize it as a foodstuff unless it’s tasted it at some point.
Even so, molasses has a drawing effect on deer. Most sweet-smelling things seem to. if for no other reason than the curiosity of a sweet smell. But, after a deer had had some molasses corn, it’s gonna remember it. for a while.
Molasses can be bought as a liquid or as a dry powder. If you just buy the little jars of molasses from the baking aisle in the grocery store, you’ll spend more than you need to. You can buy it by the gallon at most sporting goods stores, and most Walmarts.
The most common Molasses to buy is Evolved Habits Black Magic. It’s sold almost anywhere that sells hunting gear. Black magic is primarily low-grade molasses with added minerals to keep deer hooked. I am lucky enough to live next to an Amish store that sells thick molasses by the gallon and cheap.
The most cost-effective way to buy molasses is to get it from a livestock feed store. Some feed stores sell liquid molasses by the barrel, but that’s very hard to transport. You can buy powdered molasses in 50-pound bags at farm supply stores. Its Intended use is a livestock feed supplement, but it’s fine for deer too.
In animal feeds, molasses is used as a supplement to bring up the mineral level of feed; primarily Magnesium, Potassium, and Copper. those help to keep deer healthy too. Potassium greatly helps with antler growth, so by all means, use molasses corn during the antler growth stage.
Liquid molasses can be poured right onto your corn. Dry molasses can be mixed in a bucket with corn, and a little water.
You read that right, I said peanut butter. Peanut butter appeals both to deer’s noses and tastebuds. It has a very grain-like or nutty smell that deer really seem to love. And they can’t get enough of the flavor either. Peanut also meets the cravings of deer. It’s fatty, High in protein, and usually has salt and sugar added. It’s all the foodstuffs their body craves.
Peanuts are another thing that isn’t part of the naturally available diet of deer, but they seem to know that it’s food. They are drawn to the smell, and they get hooked. There are several different ways it’s used, and it works equally well each way. Here are some of the common methods.
Set a jar of peanut butter in the sun, or another hot place until it’s really runny. Make thin layers of corn and peanut butter in a bucket. You can mix it, but don’t technically have to. just dump, sprinkle or scatter it wherever you want. your deer to congregate.
another method is to 50/50 corn and peanut butter and put it back in the jar. Tie the jar to a tree so it swings around, and take the lid off. Deer will come right up and lick the corn/peanut butter out of the jar. If it’s tied loosely, it will be harder for them to eat it and they’ll have to sit there for a while.
Alternatively, you can just dump it in a pile on the ground. that works too. Still, another method is to smear the peanut butter onto a tree, rock, or fencepost near your corn. Its added scent will help to bring in deer to discover your feed pile.
Salt is an oldie and a goodie. Salt is a set of minerals that most animals crave right from birth. It’s mainly due to sodium, which is the primary electrolyte all mammals need. Any type of salt will due, be it table salt, sea salt, or that really expensive pink salt our wives like to buy. They all work the same as far as deers’ natural cravings go.
Salt is is an extremely powerful attractant. It just gets them hooked. now, you can’t really just sprinkle it on. It won’t stick. the proper way to add salt to deer corn is to make a saltwater solution and soak the corn in it. Don’t overdo it. too much salt can harm a deer, especially if there’s not a lot of water around.
Salt is my personal favorite and the “secret ingredient in quite a lot of deer attractants. It’s literally every mineral attractant! Salt has been used for centuries to attract deer to a hunting area. while nothing works 100 percent of the time, salt is about the most consistent winner.
One cup of sate per 50 pounds of dried corn is the most I would personally use. Dissolve 1/4 cup of salt in half a gallon of water. Soak 12 pounds of corn (half of a 5-gallon bucketful) in the salt water until the water is soaked up. Then go feed the deer.
My grandpa used to use salt alone to attract deer. he’d mix up a large pot of strong saltwater and pour it on the ground to create an artificial salt deposit. It worked pretty well until the game officer caught on to him.
Evolved Habitat Buck Jam
Buck Jam is a sweet fruity syrup that is intended to be poured directly on the ground, a stump, or corn. It’s a very fragrant, colored runny gel. It’s quite fragrant. Buck Jam comes in three flavors. The most common is the apple. The scent of apple is a tried and true standby for keeping a deer’s attention.
Just like the others, all you have to do is pour it over your corn. You can mix it all together in a bucket, or just pour it on a corn pile. Both work equally well. the other two flavors are Wild Persimmon and Corn. The persimmon seems to work great added to corn. I have questions about adding corn flavor to corn though. Maybe it will be super corn? I don’t really know and hardly anyone buys the stuff so I can’t get much actual info on it.
I tried like crazy to find the actual ingredients of Buck Jam. I got nothing. The container says it’s a mix of minerals and flavor to appeal to deer. Most likely it’s salty, thickened, extra-strength fruit juice. It may have some artificial fragrance too, I’m not positive about that, but I do think it smells not quite like a “normal apple”.
the whole p[oint of this being thicker is so you can pout it on the ground or a log and it won’t quickly soak in. It releases more of its fragrance this way.
C’ Mere Deer Corn Coat
This is another mineral with a lot of added fragrance. No word on what’s actually in it or even what it’s supposed to smell like. Corn Coat comes in a liquid and a powder. It smells quite sweet. Just sprinkle it on your corn and you’re good to go.
It’s important with this one not to use too much. You can use so much that you overpower a deer’s nose when they get close. use it according to the directions and mix it into the corn well. Overusing any of these can turn deer away from your feed if it’s just too unnatural.
Orange Corn Company Feeder Mix
This stuff is similar to the last one. It’s got a super strong orange scent and sweet taste, plus those minerals that deer get hooked on (mainly salt). Feeder Mix is a powder that treats 300 pounds of corn. It will certainly get their attention and help to bring in deer to your corn.
The Absulute Best Combo
My personal favorite is to mix the peanut butter, molasses, and salt methods all in one batch. Give them everything they want. It’s also a good way to help the deer get the minerals they need. Between the salt and, molasses, you’ve seriously upped the number of electrolytes in their daily diet. This stuff won’t work in any sort of feeder. it just gets plugged up.
If I’m going to do just one thing, it’ll be either the apple cider or salt. I prefer natural options. Many of the pre-made products use a ridiculous amount of artificial favors and well-experienced deer can often tell that it’s artificial.
Tips for Feeding and Baiting Deer with Corn.
Here’s the scoop. Most of the time, adding stuff to your corn should only be a short-term thing. use it to help them locate your compile or feeder, then you can probably hold off on the special sauce because the carnal instincts of a deer will create a habit to come to your spot to eat. Once they find your corn, they don’t really care if it’s flavored or not.
Deer love corn. It fills their bellies a lot better than leaves. But, sometimes a deer isn’t going to be interested in any corn. This usually happens in the spring to summer months when there is an abundance of food. that’s often a good time to use a little enhancement on your corn.
During most of the season, corn, or any feed-based bait for that matter, will only attract does and young bucks. The smart old, mature bucks tend to shy away from feed because they associate it with humans. usually, there is enough human scent present to scare away the big ole’ boys.
Now, if does congregates in any given area, then it’s sure to have Mature bucks around during the rut. The rut is a great time to hunt over a bait pile, so be sure your corn is established a month or two in advance.
The most important part of feeding corn to deer is to minimize your sent near your feeder. Wear rubber boots and gloves that have been rinsed in hot water to help keep your scent to yourself.
If you are looking to learn more, I have several articles about feeding and baiting deer you’ll want to read. Here are links to some other articles on deer corn.