Updated June 2022
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Buying guide for best game feeders

Game feeders have a number of uses. Small models can provide family and friends with the pleasure of watching wild animals in your backyard. Larger versions are invaluable for land and animal management and (where permitted) hunting.

There are plenty of game feeders to choose from, too. Some are simple and will attract all manner of wildlife. Others can provide accurate feed times through digital control. Some are freestanding and some attach to trees.

We’ve been assessing the benefits of each type in order to help you decide which to buy. Our buying guide looks at the performance of each type of game feeder in detail.

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The big advantage of a good gravity feeder is the lack of maintenance. Fill it and forget it. Polypropylene models can last for years in all types of weather.

Key considerations

To give you an overall picture of the best game feeder for a particular situation, we need to look at four areas: construction, mounting, feed method, and capacity.


Sack: The simplest game feeders are little more than a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) sack. These are low cost, lightweight, compact, and waterproof, as well as easy to move or store when not in use. Their biggest drawback is durability. Rodents can bite through them and antlers can puncture them.

Trough: Another very basic feeder is a wooden trough, and it’s not difficult to find DIY plans if you want to make your own. However, even with protective coatings, lumber has a limited outdoor life. Also, the feed is completely open to the elements. Anything can eat it, birds as well as beasts, and since it’s not protected from the weather, spoilage can be high.

Steel drum: Steel-drum feeders are popular, and they come in numerous designs. With the possible exception of bears, wildlife is unlikely to damage them. Finishes are generally quite tough, but rust will eventually get in if the drum gets scratched. It’s important that the lid seals properly to stop water from getting in and spoiling the feed.

Plastic feeders: Versatile plastic can be formed into lots of different shapes. It’s relatively unaffected by bad weather, but it can be damaged by long exposure to sunlight. High-density polyethylene (HDPE) is strong and relatively cheap. UV-resistant polypropylene is best.


There are various ways to fix your game feeder in place, and some feeders offer more than one method.

Strap and buckle: For fitting the feeder to a tree or fence post.

Wooden post or pole or steel T-post: Feeder molded to fit onto or on top of.

Chain: For hanging feeders (tree-mounted hoist at extra cost)

Tripod: To support the feeder; in addition to good stability, a tripod model may have leg extensions so you can use the feeder at different heights, allowing you to raise it above a hog’s reach, for example.

Steel-framed sled: Sometimes used for a very large feeder

Game feeder features

Feed method

Gravity: This is the basic feed method. On a few models, the feed simply pours out onto the ground. That can lead to high wastage and indiscriminate feeding, so most feeders have between one and four feed stations around the outside. These should have drain holes to keep the feed from sitting in rainwater or snowmelt, but if they don’t, it’s a simple job to drill a few.

Spinner: Advanced game feeders distribute the food using a spinner. Sometimes these are mounted inside a drum, but more often they’re underneath.


Digital controls allow you to set the number of times per day the feed is distributed (from two to six), and the duration of the feeding period (commonly from 0 to 20 seconds, though some run as long as 99 seconds). If you want to feed deer pellets, check that they’ll fit through the feed mechanism. While a feeder with a timer is more expensive, you’re more likely to be feeding accurately — deer, hogs, and turkeys all have different feeding patterns — and you can dramatically reduce waste.

Power: The timer, of course, needs a power supply, which is usually a 6- or 12-volt battery. Some have power packs, and some can be attached to a vehicle battery. Solar panels are becoming more and more popular, and some can power game cameras, too. However, it’s vital to check compatibility.

Many digital timers will give you a low battery warning. Some also give you the approximate level of feed remaining.


Even relatively small, tree-mounted plastic game feeders can hold 30 or 40 pounds of feed. The exact amount varies a little depending on what kind of feed you’re using. Mid-range hanging and tripod models are rated from 150 to 500 pounds. If you have large populations, commercial models can hold up to 1,200 pounds.

Try to be as accurate as possible with the size feeder you choose. Unless you’re running full-time herd management, err on the smaller side. The idea is to attract the game animals’ attention, not provide for all their food needs. Overfeeding deer leads to them become too reliant on an unnatural food source. If you have to stop for any reason, they’re in trouble. Also, if all the deer eat is corn or pellets, they can develop digestive problems that prove fatal.

Game feeder prices

Inexpensive: The cheapest game feeders are gravity troughs or PVC bags attached to trees. You’ll usually find them for under $25.

Mid-range: Game feeders with timers, whether hanging pails or tripod mounted, run from about $50 to $150. Capacities are usually in line with cost, from 50 to 150 pounds. Models in this range offer enough size and feeding variety for most people’s uses.

Expensive: There are plenty of larger game feeders around for those who manage considerable populations. Capacities run from 600 to 1,200 pounds, and the cost ranges from around $800 to $1,400.

Tips for dealing with game feeder pests

  • Squirrels and raccoons are notoriously clever food thieves. If you’ve got a tree-mounted gravity feeder, it’s something you’re just going to have to live with.
  • It’s usually possible to protect post and tripod-mounted game feeders, and some models have varmint protection built in. If yours doesn’t, there are two approaches. The easiest and cheapest is to smear axle grease anywhere they’re likely to climb. It’s quite effective but not particularly pleasant, and it needs to be reapplied regularly. The second method works for game feeders that distribute the feed using a spinner. A wire guard is fitted far enough out so that small, furry arms can’t reach the food. Commercial models are available, or you can make your own.
  • If you need to put a game feeder in areas with cattle, a low perimeter made from portable mesh fence panels is usually a workable solution. Cattle won’t jump, but deer have no such problems!

Other products we considered

If you don’t find what you’re looking for in our matrix above, we found a few other feeders for you. They don’t come much cheaper, simpler, or more portable than the Wildgame Innovations Treehugger Gravity Deer Feeder. The camouflaged PVC sleeve weighs just 5 pounds, it’s easy to set up, and it holds up to 80 pounds of feed. The Rednek Outdoors Gravity Feeder is designed to be attached to a T-post or strapped to a tree. It’s made of tough polypropylene for great durability, and it has a horizontal mouth that reduces waste. The Banks Outdoor Gravity Feeder claims to be raccoon-proof, which you’ll definitely want when it’s full to its 300-pound capacity. It’s another polypropylene construction model that is built for long life, watertight, and provides four feeding stations.

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Before ordering your game feeder, it’s important to check local laws. Some states have a complete ban on feeding deer. Some ban feeding during the hunting season. Some allow feeding at all times.


Q. When is the best time of day to feed deer?
Deer generally feed at dawn and dusk. If you have a gravity game feeder, all you need to do is make sure there’s feed available. If you’re timing your game feeder, then an hour or so after dawn and before dusk provides a natural pattern. Some experts also suggest a feeding around noon. Apparently deer like a lunchtime snack! Hogs are mostly night feeders, so 9 pm or 10 pm is probably best. The area of the country and the type of game have an impact, too. A game camera will help you monitor activity, and you can then adjust feeding times accordingly.

Q. Where is the best place to put my game feeder?
Deer and hogs usually have a “travel corridor” between where they feed, drink, and sleep. Ideally, you’ll want your feeder near a woodland margin to provide cover, so the animals don’t feel exposed, which also allows you to see them easily. If there’s a water source close by, that’s even better. Once again, a game camera can help you assess activity. Once you’ve set up the feeder, be patient. It can take a while for animals to get used to it. If you pop back to check it every day, you’ll likely scare them off.

Q. I read that it’s dangerous to feed deer in winter. Is that right?
It can be. You might think that deer would welcome extra feed when the weather’s bad, but unfortunately, it can cause severe problems and even death. The wrong supplements cause acidosis and chronic wasting disease (CWD). In other places where corn is part of the natural diet, winter feeding suggestions differ. What’s most important is to get accurate information from local authorities.

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