Many – if not most – barrel-type corn “deer” feeders use a battery-powered spinner to “throw” corn some distance from the feeder, in a circular pattern. Most of these have timers that can be set to varying times of day, and from one to several feeding times a day. This type feeder has the advantage of not needing a lot of attention, except for changing batteries, and the repairs any mechanical, and especially electrical device left out in the elements will need. Then there is the cost of batteries.
The other choice is feeders is the “self feeder” type, where the corn or other offering is simply available to the deer any time they want it. This type is often used when putting out “protein” supplements that you would not want to just throw on the ground.
The biggest advantage to a hunter in using a battery powered “thrower” feeder, is that deer will be conditioned to come to the feeder at the times you want them there the most. While there is always a chance of finding a deer near a feeder at any time of day, it is amazing how soon they learn when the feeder will be releasing corn, and will be there waiting for the sound of corn coming down. With the self feeding type, deer can eat when they want, making this type perhaps a bit more “sporting”?
A good gravity flow self feeder will have a drum of some kind as a “hopper” and will either be hanging from a natural or man-made point of elevation, which can be as simple as 3-4 pole legs, or as involved as a tall tripod from which the feeder is suspended by cables and raised and lowered using a hand winch. There are really neat looking self feeders on the market that mount on a “tee” post or the side of a tree, but these must be designed for use in areas with no coons or squirrels! These pests will empty such a feeder in short order, and the ones made of fairly thin plastic will get chewed up by sharp little teeth!
A decent gravity feeder can be made from a length of 4″ PVC pipe with a “T” fitting glued to the bottom end, even better is a “Y” fitting which can be positioned to “slant” upwards, so the corn doesn’t simply slide out. These feeders are economical and can be hung from a tree branch – using single strand wire helps keep coons from climbing down from above, as they will surely do if a rope is used. This feeder can also be hung high enough to usually keep coons from reaching it, yet be easily within reach of a decent sized deer. The same basic design can be attached to the bottom of a metal drum.
I use both types of PVC feeders, but recently put a Game Winner (Academy store brand) GW Universal Gravity Feeder Tube in use. I like this system so far. It has several pieces to adjust the distance it hangs below the drum, and this combined with the length of legs used can keep critters out. You also need to be aware the feeder station does have to be low enough under the drum to allow a deer to feed without bumping her head – or his antlers! The GW model is metal, and has 3 feeding trays with lips to help keep the contents from falling out on their own, There also is what GW calls an adjustable baffle, but really amounts to a sort of collar on the main tube that opens or narrows the opening the corn is allowed to feed through. It actually seems to work well, although I’m not sure I would call it a baffle.
I used this feeder tube to replace a battery powered thrower, and was able to use the original mounting holes to attach it.
My setup with the GW feeder tube has the least amount of accessory tubing to keep it closer to the bottom of the barrel – which is 5 feet off the ground – and higher off the ground. I also put several short pieces of PVC pipe over the legs as further coon-proofing. In theory, as the coon tries to climb the legs, the different pieces of PC will slip and turn on the leg, hopefully making the furry bandit fall off. So far, it seems to be working, as I have not arrived to check the feeder and found corn all over the ground instead of in the barrel!
I recently purchased a second of these units, and will possibly return to Academy for a third after the second on eis mounted and in use.
Oh, these do not replace your scatter feeder for hog hunting. For that you need roll pipes and barrels!