Gone Outdoors

How to Make a 5-Gallon Bucket Into a Deer Feeder

by Sam Eggleston

Creating an easy-to-use deer feeder out of a five-gallon bucket is not only simple, but it's worthwhile, too, especially for the beginning or recreational hunter. Instead of paying for an expensive, timed deer feeder, let the animals feed themselves with this basic feeding mechanism that will save you time and hassle.

Put a hole in the bucket. You have a couple of options on how you can do this, depending on the tools you have at your disposal. One option, which is the easiest, is to use a drill to bore a hole in the direct middle of the bottom of your 5-gallon bucket. If you don't have a drill, use a utility knife to carefully cut through the plastic. You want a hole that is big enough to fit your dowel rod through with room enough around the rod to let corn or other grains fall through when the rod moves. Once you cut your initial hole, use the rod to test it and trim the plastic with your utility knife until the rod fits in it with about a 1/2-inch space between it and the plastic.

Prepare your dowel rod. Getting the dowel rod ready is simple as you take the screw and insert it through the rod about 4 inches from one end. The screw should stick out on both sides of the rod, acting as a stopper when you put the rod into the bucket's hole. This screw will prevent the rod from falling out of the bucket and will let the rod swing back and forth when a deer nudges it, causing deer feed to fall through the open area between the rod and the plastic bucket bottom.

Prepare the bucket for hanging. The simplest way to accomplish this is to tie a piece of binder twine, which is used to bind hay bales, or a similar rope to the handle of the 5-gallon bucket. Just tie one end on for now as you'll want to tie the other after you've slung it over a tree branch where you want to feed your deer. Another option is to remove the handle of the bucket, drilling two holes where the handles were. Slide one end of the rope into the hole and tie a knot so it can't pull back out. Repeat with the other end of the rope with the other hole. This style of bucket, however, has to be slid over the end of a tree branch instead of allowing you to just sling the rope over it at the point of your choosing.

Pick your location. The idea of a feeder is to bring deer to a place where you want them to be. Ideally, you'll have scouted a spot near an existing deer runway and the animals will be able to find your feeder by scent alone. No matter where you've chosen, take your bucket feeder and tie it into place on a branch of a tree. Make sure the dowel rod is sitting in the hole and moves with ease when you push it. The rod should be a few feet off the ground where the deer can brush into it when feeding.

Fill the bucket. Using approved deer feeds, such as corn, fill the bucket. Snap the lid in place, preventing birds and squirrels from just dining inside the bucket, and give the stick a push. Corn should fall freely in little spurts, spreading along the ground. When placing the feeder in the location for the first time, consider throwing down some extra corn under the feeder so the deer will come in. They will learn to brush up against the rod to make more feed fall after a couple visits to the location.

Items you will need
  • Clean five-gallon bucket with lid
  • Drill (optional)
  • Utility knife
  • 3-foot dowel rod
  • Screw
  • Screwdriver
  • Binder twine or rope
  • Deer feed

Tip

  • To entice deer to the location initially, put some over ripe apples on the ground beneath the feeder with some of the corn. Stomp a couple of the apples underfoot to break them open and mush them. The scent of the apple will draw the deer in quicker and will let them discover the new feeding location.

Warning

  • Feeding deer in some locations is illegal, especially where chronic waste disease has been discovered. Make sure to check your local regulations before feeding these herding animals as a feed location can lead to increased transmission of some diseases.

About the Author

Sam Eggleston has been a journalist since 1999, working primarily with Gannett, Ogden and Morris newspaper companies. He has written for the "Escanaba Daily Press," "The Marquette Mining Journal," the "Kenai Peninsula Clarion," the "Novi News," the "Northville Record," the "Livingston County Press" and "Argus." Eggleston studied English at Northern Michigan University.