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Food Attractant Test

Food Attractant Test

Introduction

As I sat on stand last weekend I pondered the use of deer attractants.  I have used a couple of products in years past, but could never definitively say whether they worked as advertised or not.  All I knew for certain was that deer did not seem to be drawn to the attractant while I was on stand.  I decided a more detailed test of attractants was in order to know if their use was a good investment of one’s money.  I visited Bass Pro Shops and purchased the four food attractants as shown left to right in the photo below.

Food Attractants

1. Wildgame Innovations – Acorn Rage Feeder Fat $14.99
2. Primos – Swamp Donkey Crush Attractant $14.99
3. Wildgame Innovations – Sugar Beet Crush $12.99
4. Wildgame Innovations – Greens N-Raged $12.99

This will also be the order in which the products are tested.

The tests will be conducted in a controlled manner to the best of my abilities.  A game camera will be placed at the test locations to record all deer activity.  Updates, along with photos and statistics, will be posted following each week of the test.

Phase 1 – Is The Attractant Desirable To Deer?

I have a corn feeder in an area of my hunt lease that dispenses corn twice a day and is frequented by deer nearly every morning and evening.  The attractants will be placed out one at a time for 1 week each in close proximity to the feeder.  The purpose of this phase of the test is to determine if the deer find the attractant desirable when a known food source is present.  This will demonstrate if the deer are indeed drawn to the attractant when coming to a feeding location and if the deer make a repeated effort to consume the attractant.  Acorns have started to fall and as such the corn will likely not be visited with the same frequency as when acorns were not widely available.  However, this is hunting season in north Florida and when most attractants are purchased.  This test is designed to determine if the attractants serve to provide more opportunity for a successful hunt by attracting deer to a desired location.  The test site for phase 1 is pictured below.

Week 1 – 09/30/11  Test of:
Wildgame Innovations – Acorn Rage Feeder Fat

Acorn Rage Feeder Fat looks like small dog food kibbles and is packaged in a 5 lb. bag.  The top five ingredients in order are Processed Grain By-Products, Grain Products, Plant Protein Products, Ground Acorns, and Vegetable Oil.  The package states, “Deer are known to abandon corn patches, wheat fields, and even lush green food plots once acorns start to drop.  They do this to satisfy their natural craving for a high fat food source (acorns contain a extremely high amount of fat, up to 17%).”  Wildgame Innovations recommends that the product be mixed with corn in a feeder.  The instructions also indicate that the product can be applied in thin strips 1-2 inches deep and 1.5-4 feet long.  It is recommended that 2.5 to 5 pounds be applied per application.  For this test approximately 2.5 lbs. will be put out.  In order to know that the deer are actually drawn to the attractant it will be applied in strips as recommended.

At 1:00 pm the Acorn Rage was put out in two strips per the directions (see photo below).  The game camera was mounted to a tree which overlooks the area about 5’ away.  The pictures from the game camera will be collected one week from today.

Week 1 – Results

You can see in the picture below that the attractant was largely unconsumed.

                Date                Time            Animal Time on Attractant
10/02/2011 07:59 am Doe < 1 min.
10/03/2011 03:30 am Doe < 1 min.
10/03/2011 04:08 am Spike < 1 min.
10/04/2011 02:45 am Doe < 1 min.
10/04/2011 02:54 am Doe < 1 min.
10/05/2011 02:25 am Spike < 1 min.
10/05/2011 09:47 am Spike < 1 min.
10/06/2011 01:03 am Doe < 1 min.
10/07/2011 06:51 am Spike < 1 min.

From above you can see that there were 9 unique visits and each visit lasted less than 1 minute.  It would appear from the data that the attractant did not hold the deer for any extended period of time.  Acorn Rage is an acorn blend.  Since acorns are dropping all around, one could draw the conclusion that this is not an effective attractant when free ranging acorns are present.

Week 2 – 10/07/11 Test of:
Primos – Swamp Donkey

Will Primos calls big bucks from the southern swamp regions Swamp Donkeys.  The packaging contains 6 lbs. of crushed attractant and indicates that the secret formula was developed and tested over a 7 year period.  The top six ingredients in order are Processed Grain By-Products, Plant Protein Products, Grain Products, Roughage Products, Calcium Carbonate, and Cane Molasses.  The package states. “Proprietary ingredients selected to promote overall health, energy and blood flow – which can promote antler growth body weight”.  The instructions indicate the attractant is effective in troughs or poured directly on the ground in a 4-5 foot strip that is no more than 3-4 inches deep.  The attractant is not to be poured in piles, as piles are not readily consumed by deer and trap moisture that will cause molding.  I appreciated the explanation as to why the attractant was to be put out in a strip.  Approximately 3 lbs. will be put out.

At 12:00 pm the Acorn Rage was cleared away and the Swamp Donkey was put out in two strips per the directions (see photo below).  The game camera was mounted to a different tree which provides a better view of the attractant.  The pictures from the game camera will be collected one week from today.

Week 2 – Results

Unfortunately the day after the attractant was placed, it rained 5 straight days.  As you will see below, it appears the attractant was consumed.  Upon closer inspection, however, you will notice that attractant was largely washed about and mold had actually set in.  This situation rendered the test inconclusive. However, Swamp Donkey will get another chance in the next round.  As before, the game camera results have been tabulated and listed following the pictures.

In the photo below you can clearly see the mold on the attractant.

                Date                Time            Animal Time on Attractant
10/09/2011 07:11 pm Doe 0 min.
10/09/2011 11:41 pm Doe 0 min.
10/10/2011 07:46 am Doe 0 min.
10/10/2011 07:30 pm Bucks – 2 0 min.
10/10/2011 09:12 pm Doe 0 min.
10/11/2011 03:21 am Does – 2 0 min.
10/11/2011 08:32 am Buck 0 min.
10/12/2011 01:00 am Doe 0 min.
10/12/2011 10:13 am Buck 0 min.
10/13/2011 07:34 am Does – 2 0 min.
10/14/2011 05:59 am Doe 0 min.
10/14/2011 09:20 am Spike 0 min.

In each of the 12 cases above the deer stopped to eat some of the corn on the ground, but completely bypassed the attractant.  Again, this test was flawed due to the excessive rains.  With acorns widely available, the deer are spending less time on the corn as well.  The feeder was adjusted down from 8 seconds of run time to 2 seconds of run time a week earlier.  You will see below that corn is still getting left behind and corn has even begun to sprout.  No significant conclusions can be drawn from this test.

I have included 3 photos from the game camera below of the buck that came through on the 11th at 8:32 am.  The game camera takes 3 pictures in succession (1 approximately each second).  Notice how the buck moved right past the attractant.  He walks directly over where the attractant was placed.  Note – the camera has a much wider field-of-view, but I have cropped the photos for practicality.

Week 3 – 10/14/11  Test of:
Wildgame Innovations – Sugar Beet Crush

Sugar Beet Crush is a orange rust looking crushed powder that comes in a 5 lb. bag.  The top five ingredients in order are Processed Grain By-Products, Plant Protein Products, Ground Sugar Beets, Calcium Carbonate and Natural and Artificial Flavors.  The package states, “Sugar Beet CRUSH™ is REAL Sugar Beets crushed and blended with fresh heat processed beans into an ultra concentrated one of a kind attractant.”  The package also states, “Perfect for use in front of Game Cameras…”.  The instructions indicate that the product can be poured in thin strips 2-3 inches deep and 2-5 feet long. For this test approximately 2.5 lbs. will be put out.

At 11:30 am the Swamp Donkey was cleared away and the Sugar Beet Crush was put out in two strips per the directions (see photo below).  The game camera remains mounted to a tree which overlooks the area about 10’ away.  The pictures from the game camera will be collected one week from today.

Week 3 – Results

The weather was perfectly sunny from Friday through Monday midday.  Then it rained Monday afternoon.  Those first three days provided ample opportunity for the deer to be drawn to the attractant. Just as in the previous two weeks, deer came by but paid no attention to the attractant with the exception of one doe.  After the rain came, the Sugar Beet Crush suffered the same fate as the Swamp Donkey, it became moldy.  So after Monday, the test was rendered over.  However, I am convinced, that based on the evidence from the visits prior to Monday, the results for the remaining days would have been no different. Just as the Swamp Donkey, Sugar Beet Crush will get another chance in the next round. The game camera results have been tabulated and listed following the pictures.

Notice the mold once again.

                Date                Time            Animal Time on Attractant
10/14/2011 10:15 pm Spike 0 min.
10/15/2011 08:23 pm Buck 0 min.
10/15/2011 09:03 pm Spike 0 min.
10/16/2011 12:44 am Doe 1 min.
10/16/2011 07:16 am Doe 0 min.
10/16/2011 07:55 am Spike 0 min.
10/17/2011 02:12 am Buck 0 min.
10/17/2011 02:41 am Buck 0 min.
10/17/2011 07:19 am Spike 0 min.
10/17/2011 09:37 am Spike 0 min.
10/17/2011 07:33 pm Doe 0 min.
10/18/2011 12:31 am Doe 0 min.
10/18/2011 04:53 am Spike 0 min.
10/18/2011 06:51 pm Buck 0 min.
10/19/2011 05:04 am Doe 0 min.
10/19/2011 07:22 am Doe 0 min.
10/19/2011 07:33 pm Does – 2, Buck 0 min.
10/19/2011 07:41 am Doe, Spike 0 min.
10/19/2011 02:20 pm Spike 0 min.
10/19/2011 08:05 pm Spike 0 min.
10/20/2011 08:04 am Spike 0 min.
10/20/2011 12:50 pm Spike 0 min.
10/20/2011 07:06 pm Spikes – 2 0 min.
10/20/2011 07:14 pm Spike 0 min.
10/21/2011 02:50 am Spike 0 min.
10/21/2011 05:52 am Doe 0 min.
10/21/2011 07:31 am Doe, Spike 0 min.

In each case above the deer either passed through or stayed a few minutes to eat some of the corn.  The attractant was only nibbled on one time by a doe Sunday shortly before 1:00 am.  Also, there were six unique visits prior to the rainfall.  It is clear the rain held the deer off, as they did not revisit the location until the following morning.  I have included a picture below of a spike that passed through and completely ignored the attractant.

Week 4 – 10/21/11 Test of:
Wildgame Innovations – Greens N-Raged

Greens N-Raged is a green crushed powder and comes in a 5 lb. bag.  The top ten ingredients in order are Processed Grain By-Products, Plant Protein Products, Dehydrated Alfalfa, Chopped Alfalfa Hay, Grain Products, Chopped Clover Hay, Chopped Whole Oats, Ground Chicory Root, Turnip Greens, and Wheat Middlings.  This product is cornucopia of greens.  The package states, “A hybrid product…combines harvested food plot greens with powerful food supplements into one ready to use superior green attractant!”  The instructions indicate that the product can be poured in thin strips 2-3 inches deep and 2-5 feet long in an area you would like to use for attracting/feeding.  Although the product can be put out in a pile, as with the previous tests approximately 2.5 lbs. will be put out in strips.

At noon the Sugar Beet Crush was completely cleared away and the Greens N-Raged put out in two strips.

Update – 10/22/2011

I hunted this location from my tree stand that overlooks this area today (Saturday), just 18 hours after having put out the attractant.  A cold front had begun pushing through two days prior and the temperature at 6:00 am was 36°.  No rain had occurred.  The attractant was fresh and had been out long enough to scent the area with its presence.  I anticipated increased deer movement due to the cold weather and wanted to witness for myself if the attractant was having any positive effect on luring deer to the location.  I sat the stand from 6:15 am to 12:00 pm and have listed my observations below.  While sitting on stand, I took a picture with my cell phone that is displayed following my observations.   You can see the attractant, it is the two green strips.  I am facing east.  This will help you follow along with my notes below.

7:25 am – a doe arrives from the east and proceeds to eat corn.  She stays on the corn 35 minutes and never makes any movement to the attractant.

8:50 am – a spike arrives from the east and eats corn for 7 minutes.  He then exits to the left just a few feet from the attractant and pays no attention to it.

9:30 am – a small 6 point arrives from the left and walks just to the left of the attractant, stops at the corn for a bite or two and begins to exit to the southeast.  I give a short soft doe bleat and he circles back to his right to investigate.  He now comes in from the right.  He cruises right past the attractant and begins to exit to the left.  I give another short soft doe bleat.  He turns around and comes back in just to the left of the attractant and stops on the corn for a few minutes.  Something then grabs his attention to the northeast.  He squares up for a few seconds and then charges off to investigate and never returns.

10:22 am – a doe and a yearling come in from the left and then enter the brush to the west.  They then circle toward my stand and head straight for the corn.  Both of them stayed to the left of the attractant, as if purposely avoiding it.  They graze on the corn approximately 20 minutes and never give any attention to the attractant.

In all four cases the deer showed no interest in the attractant whatsoever.

Week 4 – Results

Unfortunately the batteries in the game camera died this week and photos were only captured the first day.  However, based on my personal observations, as noted above, and the few pictures captured the attractant was not touched.  This was further evidenced when I went to retrieve the camera, as the there were no signs the attractant had been consumed at all.  The spike that visited the area at 1:45 am actually sniffs the attractant and walks away.

                Date                Time            Animal Time on Attractant
10/22/2011 01:30 am Doe 0 min.
10/22/2011 01:45 am Spike < 1 min.
10/22/2011 07:25 am Doe 0 min.
10/22/2011 08:50 pm Spike 0 min.
10/22/2011 09:30 am Buck 0 min.
10/22/2011 10:20 am Doe, Yearling 0 min.

A picture of the attractant is not provided, as previously done, because I forgot to take my camera when I went to collect the results.  Needless to say the attractant was undisturbed.  Unlike the other attractants, this one showed no signs of mold.  This is due to the fact that the attractant is principally chopped vegetation and contains no ingredients, such as sugar, to promote mold growth.

Phase 1 – Results

Based on the results of Phase 1, it is clear that these four food attractants have no appeal to deer when other food sources, such as corn or acorns, are present.   If you are placing corn out or acorns are in abundance, then save your money and do not purchase these attractants.  There is no evidence from these tests that deer were drawn to the area due to the attractant being present.  The deer that came to the area were doing so to feed on corn.  Considering a high quality 50 lb bag of corn is currently $11.00, corn is a far better value for attracting deer than any of these attractants.

Phase 2 – Will Deer Be Attracted To An Area With No Other Bait?

In this phase of the test each attractant will be placed out one at a time for 1 week each in an area where no other bait (corn) is present within 100 yards. The purpose of this phase of the test is to determine if the attractant will draw deer to a specific area that is free from other bait in the immediate area. I have selected a site that is an area deer are known to travel through. However, the area is not a specific travel lane. Randomness of travel is required to see if the deer seek out the attractant.  Phase 2 will not take place until the second week of December in order for the natural supply of acorns to be largely exhausted.  The camera will also be placed closer to the attractant to ensure capture of all nighttime activity.

Week 1 – 12/10/11  Test of:
Wildgame Innovations – Acorn Rage

Due to an unfortunate incident, this week of the test required a slight change in product.  My dogs managed to get into the airtight bag of attractant and consume it. Clearly Acorn Rage Feeder Fat works on dogs.  The retailer was out of Acorn Rage Feeder Fat, but they did have Wildgame Innovations – Acorn Rage.  This is a very similar product in that it is made of crushed acorns, but unlike Acorn Rage Feeder Fat it is not in kibble form.  However, the attractant is acorn based and should suffice for validating the test as before.

At 2:00 pm the Acorn Rage was put out in two strips per the directions (see photo below).  The game camera was mounted to a tree which overlooks the area about 4’ away.  The pictures from the game camera will be collected one week from today.

At 2:00 pm the attractant was placed out.

Week 1 – Results

The weather has been unseasonably warm with high temperatures in the mid to high 70′s.  It rained Sunday night after the attractant was put out.  As you can see below in chart, the site was visited four times and the deer gave the attractant no attention whatsoever.  There was no evidence that the attractant had been conumed at all.

                Date                Time            Animal Time on Attractant
12/12/2011 09:45 pm Doe 0 min.
12/12/2011 10:25 pm Doe 0 min.
12/14/2011 04:15 am Doe 0 min.
12/15/2011 03:15 am Spike 0 min.

The picture below is a close up of the attractant.  A wide shot of the site rendered the attractant nearly non-visible.

Week 2 – 12/17/11  Test of:
Primos – Swamp Donkey

The Swamp Donkey was placed out at 2:00 pm.  Just as before, two strips were placed out after the previous attractant had been completely cleared away.

The attractant is barely visible due to the afternoon lighting and the earth tone of the attractant.

Week 2 – Results

The weather was clear, sunny and warm the entire week.  The photo below tells the whole story.  The attractant was never touched.  As usual, the graph below records the visits by deer.  The test site was also visited by opossums and raccoons.  None of the wildlife consumed any attractant.

                Date                Time            Animal Time on Attractant
 12/21/2011 10:15 pm Doe 0 min.
 12/22/2011 02:15 am Spike 0 min.
 12/24/2011 08:25 pm Does (2) 0 min.
 12/24/2011 08:55 pm Spike 0 min.
 12/24/2011 11:45 pm Spike 0 min.

Below is a sequence of a doe walking right through the attractant without stopping.

Week 3 – 12/25/11  Test of:
Wildgame Innovations – Sugar Beet Crush

The Sugar Beet Crush was placed out at 1:00 pm.  Just as before, two strips were placed out after the previous attractant had been completely cleared away. The first time this attractant was tested it rained on the fourth day. The weather should remain clear this week.

Week 3 – Results

The weather was clear, sunny and warm the entire week.  While there was little to no consumption of the product, for the first time the product did appear to ‘attract’ deer.  The graph below records the visits by deer.  In the Phase 1 test of Sugar Beet Crush heavy rains caused the product to mold quickly rendering no definitive results.  Thus this week of Phase 2 was a much better test for the attractant.  The photo below still shows, however, that little of the product was actually consumed.  The visits recorded were the best of any test thus far.  Interesting was that three separate bucks actually tasted the attractant.  It should also be noted that rut activity was happening this same week which may have contributed to the higher number of buck visits than previously recorded.  Due to the holiday season, the camera did have to be pulled two days early.  It is possible more visits may have been recorded, but the product was beginning to look old as can be seen below.

                Date                Time            Animal Time on Attractant
 12/26/2011 08:00 pm Buck < 1 min.
 12/26/2011 11:50 pm Bucks (2) 4 min.
 12/27/2011 12:15 am Spike < 1 min.
 12/27/2011 02:10 am Buck 2 min.
 12/28/2011 06:25 pm Doe < 1 min.
 12/30/2011 02:10 am Buck 1 min.

In the photos below both bucks are actually tasting / consuming the attractant.

This buck actually visited the attractant on two occasions.

It was finally good to see one of the attractants appear to work.

Week 4 – 01/02/12 Test of:
Wildgame Innovations – Greens N-Raged

The Greens N-Raged was placed out in two strips at 1:30 pm after clearing away the previous attractant.

Week 4 – Results

There were no visits by deer the entire week.  There were no signs the attractant had been consumed at all.  The area was visited twice by a bobcat (see photos below) and a coyote.

This bobcat clearly hears everything.  The game camera in use is a Reconyx with no-glow (no visible light), yet the bobcat looks right at it.  He apparently hears the camera taking his picture.  Deer have never paid any attention to it.

Phase 2 – Results

Based on the results of Phase 2, three of the four attractants appeared to have little affect on attracting game.   Wildgame Innovations – Sugar Beet Crush did provide the most promising results.  However, in no test was the attractant largely consumed by deer.  In this phase of the test no other baits, such as corn, were present as was the case in Phase 1.  So in the case of the Sugar Beet Crush the attractant did appear to lure game in.  If I had to pick from the four attractants tested I would pick the Sugar Beet Crush.  I attribute it’s success to the fact that deer naturally like beets, which have a sweet flavor not found in most food deer consume.

Final Thoughts

An interesting aspect of these attractants, is that three of four are in a chopped/shredded/pulverized form.  I do not believe the deer like this form of delivery.  They are accustomed to eating leaves and twigs that require the use of their teeth.  The broken down form is foreign to them, and other than a few occasional nibbles at the bait (more of a tasting as they appeared to use their tongue) the deer never stayed to consume the attractant for any length of time.  Deer devour corn and you can hear them crunching on it.  They seem to enjoy working their teeth on corn.  The only time I have found corn to be ignored is when natural acorns are present.  Once again the deer have to grind down the acorns.

The fourth attractant is a dog food type kibble style and is acorn based.  Quite frankly I feel the attractant held no interest to the deer because acorns were present naturally everywhere.  So why would the deer be attracted to an acorn based bait?  If you are going to use a bait/attractant then I recommend using one that the deer do not get naturally or often in the area you hunt.

When hunting deer we all look for an edge to help bring that big buck our way.  Feeders are popular because deer like corn.  I use them and have had measurable success in keeping deer in the area.  If I were hunting an area for a week, where I had no previous knowledge of the deer movement and did nor have corn available as a bait, then I would probably take a chance and put out the Sugar Beet Crush attractant.  I would not bother using any of the other three attractants as they did not produce any significant results.  Given that none of the four attractants appeared to last beyond a week without spoiling or weakening then you should hunt over them the first week they are put out and preferably the first 3 days.  Dollar for dollar I do not find any of the attractants a better value than corn.  I am interested in purchasing some raw beets next year and see if the deer are drawn to them.  Friends of mine Louisiana have told me that rice bran works very well.  I will attempt to get some next year and test it.

If there is a particular attractant/bait you are interested in having tested in a field trial send me an email and we will attempt to schedule a test.

Happy Hunting!

2 Comments

  1. I’m really looking forward to seeing the results of this test. Was there any action on this test site captured on the game camera? Thanks for your efforts in this test!

  2. Wow, I would have never expected the deer to ignore the attractants. Sounds like I need to get a doe bleat however. Thanks Tim, this was very informative.

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