A soothing scenery perfect for attracting deer, with a lush green meadow at the heart of a forest under a clear, sunny sky. Several deer eating plants are present as well as a small body of fresh water, surrounded by wildflowers. A disguised salt lick has been placed underground, barely noticeable. Various fruit trees abound like apple, pear, and cherry. No sign of human presence, no text, no brand names, and no people are visible within the scene.

How To Attract Deer

Written By: Ian @ World Deer

Understanding Deer Behavior and Preferences

Attracting deer to your property or hunting area involves combining scientific knowledge of deer behavior with practical techniques to entice these animals.

A crucial first step in this process is understanding what deer are naturally drawn to in terms of habitat and nourishment.

Deer tend to prefer environments that offer a mix of forested areas and open spaces such as meadows or fields.

An area that provides thick cover for bedding down during the day and expansive spaces for feeding at dawn and dusk creates an ideal setting.

Creating a Natural Habitat to Attract Deer

To make your land more appealing, focus on enhancing the natural qualities that deer seek out.

Consider practices like selective logging to open up denser forest areas, which can stimulate the growth of underbrush, providing shelter and forage.

Leaving parts of your fields unharvested or supplementing them with deer-friendly crops can serve as an irresistible invitation to these creatures.

Creating edge environments where your woods meet open land is especially productive as deer love the safety of the forest perimeter.

Food Plots: A Buffet for Deer

One reliable method to attract deer is to plant food plots, a targeted planting of certain crops that act as both a food source and an attraction to deer.

Planting a mix of perennial and annual crops can provide year-round sustenance, such as clover, alfalfa, turnips, and chicory.

Some hunters swear by cereal grains like oats, wheat, or rye for late-season hunting, as deer will dig through snow for these carbs.

Water Sources: The Heart of the Deer Habitat

Another fundamental element in attracting deer is ensuring there is a fresh water source available.

Water is even more crucial during droughts or in areas where natural water sources are scarce.

If you do not have a natural stream or pond, consider installing a water trough or digging a small pond to attract and keep deer on your land.

Regular maintenance is essential to prevent these water sources from becoming stagnant or drying up.

Using Deer Attractants and Feeders

While natural food sources are best, supplemental feeding using feeders can also be effective in attracting deer.

These feeders can be filled with commercial deer feed or raw agricultural products like corn, sorghum, and soybeans.

However, it’s vital to abide by local wildlife feeding regulations to ensure it’s legal and done responsibly.

Understanding the Legalities and Ethics of Baiting

Prior to using any attractants or bait, check the local regulations regarding baiting and feeding wildlife in your area.

In some regions, baiting is prohibited or may be restricted to certain times of the year.

Additionally, improper feeding practices can spread disease among deer populations, such as Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

Minerals and Salt Licks: Health Supplements for Deer

Supplementing your property with minerals can also be an attraction.

Deer, especially in the spring and summer, will seek out mineral sites to aid in their nutritional requirements.

Products like the Whitetail Institute’s 30-06 Mineral/Vitamin Deer Mineral Supplement provide a mix of minerals that promote the health and growth of deer.

This supplement contains a calculated balance of key minerals and vitamins specifically tailored to the needs of deer and can easily be spread over sites to create natural mineral licks.


  • Improves overall health and antler growth.
  • Easily consumed by deer when applied to the soil.
  • Helps lactating does to replenish nutrients.


  • Regular replenishment is required to maintain attraction.
  • May attract unwanted species to the same site.
  • Should be part of a comprehensive habitat plan, not a single solution.

Reviews of the Whitetail Institute’s supplement consistently mention improved deer activity on trail cameras and visible growth in antler size.

While the results vary based on geographic location and overall habitat, the general consensus is one of positiveness surrounding the product’s effectiveness in attracting and nourishing deer populations.

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Seasonal Changes and Their Impact on Attracting Deer

Deer behavior changes with the seasons, and so should your strategies for attraction.

During the fall rut, deer consume high amounts of carbohydrates to fuel their breeding activities.

Understanding this can help you plan your food plot composition or baiting practices.

Spring and summer are times of growth and nursing fawns, so protein-rich plants and minerals are in higher demand.

Shelter and Bedding Areas

Equally as important as food and water, shelter offers deer a safe place to rest and escape predators.

Providing thickets and brush piles can create favorable bedding spots that make your property an attractive residence for deer.

Safety is paramount, so areas of dense cover adjacent to feeding spots can lead to increased activity on your land.

Trail Cameras and Observation: Understanding the Local Herd

Use trail cameras and personal observation to identify the habits of the local deer herd.

Trail cameras can capture the times when deer visit feeding and watering spots, allowing you to tailor your habitat improvements to their routines.

Note the number of deer, their size, and any observable preferences they might have for certain areas or food sources.

Attracting Deer and the Scent Game

Deer have an incredible sense of smell, and this can work both for and against you in the attraction process.

Using scent attractants like doe urine during the rut can draw in bucks seeking a mate.

Conversely, ensuring you are scent-free when on your property can prevent spooking deer and undoing your attracting efforts.

Frequently Asked Questions About Attracting Deer

What is the best food to attract deer?

Deer are mostly drawn to high-protein and -carbohydrate foods.

Clover, alfalfa, brassicas, and certain grains like corn provide excellent nutrition and attraction.

When are deer most actively feeding?

Deer are typically most active during dawn and dusk, although patterns can vary.

They also tend to feed more heavily during the early hours of the night.

Is it safe to provide supplemental feeding to deer?

While supplemental feeding can help attract deer, it must be done responsibly to prevent spreading diseases.

Always follow local regulations and consult wildlife experts before starting a feeding program.

The Role of Scent Covering and Control in Deer Attraction

Scent covering and control are critical aspects of deer hunting and attracting deer to a specific area.

Deer are equipped with a keen sense of smell that helps them detect predators and find food sources.

To successfully attract deer, it is important to minimize human presence, which can be achieved using scent-covering sprays and soaps.

These products mask human odors, making it less likely for deer to be spooked by your scent.

Natural Predator Control to Maintain Deer Populations

Controlling predator populations on your land can have a positive effect on attracting deer.

By managing predators such as coyotes, you create a safer habitat for deer to thrive.

This, in turn, makes your land a more attractive destination for deer, as the reduced threat level allows them to feed and bed down with greater ease.

Noise Discipline: A Silent Approach to Deer Attraction

Similar to scent, deer are very sensitive to noise, which can quickly scare them away.

When working on your land or hunting, it is imperative to maintain noise discipline.

Use equipment quietly, speak in hushed tones, and move with care to avoid detection.

This silent approach makes your property a more attractive and peaceful environment for deer.

Tending to the Ecosystem: Plant Diversity and Health

Deer are attracted to areas with diverse and healthy vegetation.

Maintaining a variety of native plant species on your land offers deer the nutritious forage they seek throughout the year.

Promoting the growth of various plants also helps maintain soil health, which is beneficial for the entire ecosystem, including the deer.

Strategic Placement of Attraction Elements

Strategically placing food sources, water, and shelter can significantly enhance their attractiveness to deer.

For instance, position feeders and food plots within close proximity to thick cover, providing deer with a quick retreat route in case of danger.

This strategy gives deer the confidence to frequent these areas, knowing safety is nearby.

Attracting Deer by Mimicking Their Calls

Mimicking deer calls is an effective way to both attract and communicate with deer.

Using grunt calls or rattling antlers during the rut can simulate a buck challenge, which may attract curious or competitive bucks to your location.

This method requires practice and understanding of deer vocalizations to be most effective.

Decoy Usage in Deer Attraction

Deer decoys can create an illusion of safety and social interaction, attracting deer to investigate.

Decoys work particularly well during the rut when bucks are seeking does or when territorial bucks may challenge another buck.

Placement and movement are key to creating a believable scenario with your decoy.

Utilizing Modern Technology: Deer Attraction Apps

Modern hunting has embraced technology, and various mobile apps can assist deer hunters in attraction efforts.

Apps such as HuntStand and onX Hunt provide detailed land mapping, weather patterns, and deer activity predictions, helping you make informed decisions on how best to attract deer to your property.

Leveraging Peak Deer Movement Patterns

Deer movement peaks during specific times of the year, such as during the rut or when seeking food in early autumn.

Understanding these patterns can inform the timing of your attractant strategies.

Food plots and scents can be most effective when timed with these periods of increased activity.

Enhancing Visibility with Proper Landscaping

Careful landscaping can increase the visibility of your property to passing deer.

Clearing sight lines while maintaining cover can pique the curiosity of deer traveling nearby, encouraging them to venture onto your land to explore the available resources.

Managing Human Activity During Hunting Seasons

To avoid disrupting natural deer patterns, it is important to manage human activity on your property, especially during hunting seasons.

Limiting access and creating designated quiet zones can help maintain the attractiveness of your land to deer populations.

Frequently Asked Questions About Deer Attraction Strategies

What types of cover do deer prefer for bedding?

Deer seek thick underbrush, evergreen trees, and tall grasses for cover when bedding down to feel safe and hidden from predators.

How long does it take for deer to acclimate to new food sources?

It can take weeks for deer to become comfortable with new food sources as they cautiously test them for safety and palatability.

Can calling techniques spook deer?

Yes, improper use of calls or overuse can alert deer to human presence and spook them if not executed with realism.

How can I improve the success of my food plots?

Soil testing, proper fertilization, choosing the right crops, and timely plantings can significantly improve the success and attractiveness of food plots.

Is it better to use multiple water sources instead of a single one?

Providing multiple water sources can improve attraction as it offers deer options and reduces the chance of over-presence at a single site, which can lead to wariness.

Picture of By: Ian from World Deer

By: Ian from World Deer

A passionate writer for WorldDeer using the most recent data on all animals with a keen focus on deer species.

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