Most of extreme western edge of the state, from Tennessee to Louisiana along the Mississippi River, experienced wildlife-moving winter floodwaters that not only shortened the deer season but also affected the food resources available in those areas.
Deer are now starting to return to their normal range, which biologists predicted them to do as the waters receded. Landowners and deer clubs will often increase their supplemental feeding to help fill the void until the spring brings growth.
According to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, supplemental feeding is not always necessary and, when it is helpful, it must be done right.
The MDWFP said that no extraordinary measures are needed for the wellbeing of the deer herd, and best management practices for supplemental feeding should be followed during this time. Those practices follow:
1. Evaluate availability of natural browse and supplemental plantings. More food may be available than expected.
2. Use a complete pelletized ration (protein pellets) containing 16 to 18 percent crude protein.
3. Do not use a feed that contains animal byproducts.
4. Mixing corn or soybeans with protein pellets can improve acceptance by deer, but the mix should contain less than 25 percent corn or soybeans.
5. Above-ground covered feeders (gravity feeders or troughs) should be used for the best delivery of protein pellets. This will limit feed exposure to contaminants (mud, water, urine, and feces).
6. It is illegal to pour, pile, or place feed directly on the ground; therefore, mobile or aerial broadcast delivery of water resistant protein pellets remains illegal and biologically unwarranted.
7. Use feeders at a density of one feeder per 200 to 300 acres.
8. Move feeders periodically to limit accumulation of contaminants at feed sites.