So you’re at your favorite local sporting goods store, looking at the deer feeders, and you notice they’re a little pricey. Not only that, but they’re mostly pretty simple designs. And you think to yourself, “I wonder if I could just make my own and save some money?”. Well, you can!
An effective DIY deer feeder is easy to make, even for the most mechanically challenged. You can make them as simple or as complicated as you want, and with some creativity, you can make one out of stuff you already have lying around, taking up space on your property. Here are five ways to quickly build your DIY deer feeder that will be higher quality than the store-bought ones and a lot cheaper, too.
Most Common Homemade Deer Feeder Designs
- PVC Pipe Gravity Feeders – Quick and easy to make, transport, and set up. You can make them in different sizes to hold more or less feed. And they have the added benefit of being low-profile and unobtrusive.
- Buckets & Drums – These can hold larger amounts of feed, so they don’t have to be filled as often and can be made from discarded, easily obtained materials.
- Tripods – A tripod-mounted bucket or drum gives you more versatility with placement and stability. They can also have a motorized automatic feeder to drop feed on a schedule or use the simple gravity feed method.
- Troughs – Simple frame construction to hold protein or corn. Instead of spilling onto the ground, the feed fills a trough.
1. Poor Man’s PVC Feeder
This design is just what it says: all the materials can be bought at your local hardware store for $50 or less, and the only tools needed are a drill and a hacksaw.
You pour your corn or whatever feed you’re using into the top of the tube, and gravity keeps it moving downward as it gets eaten.
It has a drain at the bottom to let out any rainwater that gets in to keep the feed from becoming moldy. Deer will have no problem getting their snout into the pipe to retrieve the feed.
- One PVC pipe of the desired length (at least 3’ and up to 10’) and 6” diameter
- Two 6” PVC slip-on end caps
- One 6” PVC Wye (Y) coupler
- Several small eye bolts (number depending on length)
- One can of PVC primer
- One can of PVC cement
- Spray paint for camouflage
- Power drill
- Cut the 6” PVC pipe to the desired length. The longer it is, the less often you’ll have to fill it, but longer ones will be harder to fill.
- Primer the end of the pipe and one female end of the Wye coupler following the directions for use. Add cement to both pieces and attach them.
- Drill some holes for drainage in one of the end caps, primer cement the inside edge, and attach it to the bottom of the Wye coupler.
- Drill holes along the side of the pipe to attach eye bolts. These will be used as strapping points to secure it to the tree. The number required depends on the length.
- Take the end cap that will cover the top of the feeder and drill one hole in the center and one in the side, with a corresponding hole in the main pipe. Attach one eye-bolt in the top to use as a handle. The second eye bolt will attach the lid to the pipe to keep the raccoons from raiding your feeder.
You can mount your new feeder to a tree with bungee cords, ratchet straps, or rope. You can also find pre-made drain caps at the store, but make sure the holes are small enough to keep your feed in.
2. Five Gallon Bucket Feeder
Another easy-to-build and ridiculously affordable feeder. It uses a 5-gallon bucket to hold the feed, with a small hole cut into the bottom.
A wooden bridge is fitted across the inside of the bucket about two inches from the bottom, suspending the length of an all-thread rod through the hole. A large tin can is suspended from the bottom of the rod, so the wind or nudging deer can cause the feed to fall from the hole.
The feed is kept in the bucket until the can is moved by a washer slightly larger than the hole suspended on the rod an inch or so below the hole, just enough to keep the feed in the bucket until the rod is moved when a small amount of feed will drop to the ground.
- One 5-gallon bucket with a lid
- One ¼”-20 all-thread rods (threaded along the whole length) about 36” long
- Five ¼” washers and one 2” washer
- Six ¼” nuts
- One 1” x 2” board 16” in length
- One large tin can (or similar item)
- Power drill
- Cut a 1” wide hole in the bottom of the bucket
- Cut two 2” long sections off of the board, then trim the board to fit across the bottom of the bucket (most 5-gallon buckets are 10.33” across at the bottom)
- Drill a hole through the middle of the board aligned with the hole in the bucket, large enough to allow the rod to swing slightly. Nail or screw 2” pieces to the end of the board as supports, and place in the bottom of the bucket.
- Place a 2” washer on the rod with ¼” washers and nuts on each side and double nuts on the lower side to keep it securely positioned on the rod.
- Secure the rod from the wooden bridge through the hole in the bucket, and adjust the 2” washer so it’s about 1” below the hole.
- Drill ¼” a hole through the side of the can in the middle and attach it to the end of the rod with nuts and washers.
Use a rope to hang your 5-gallon feeder over your spot, adjusted so the deer can reach up and nudge the can for feed. Ensure your 2” washer is placed so the feed can flow, but not too quickly. The sound of the feed plinking on the can will also attract other deer in the area when they get accustomed to it.
3. 55-Gallon Drum Gravity Feeder
This one takes a bit more work but is very economical to build. If you live far from your property or can’t get out there very often, this will hold enough feed to last for a while.
This plan leaves the lid attached to the drum to ensure rainwater stays out. It’s simply a 55-gallon drum mounted a few feet off the ground on a wooden platform and held in place with a ratchet strap.
Four 2” holes are cut around the bottom of the drum, and 2” PVC elbows are inserted and cemented in place to channel the feed. Then cheap and readily available 12” drywall mud trays are bolted underneath the channels to hold the feed.
The drum can be filled by removing the plugs on top and using a large funnel. It’s secure and stable and works quite well.
- One watertight 55-gallon plastic drum
- Materials for platform
- Four 2” PVC elbow joints
- Four 12” drywall mud trays
- Eight screws
- PVC cement
- Power drill
- Build a platform to hold drum 2’ off the ground securely. You can do this with boards, concrete blocks, or PVC tubing. Just be sure it can handle the weight and won’t tip over.
- Cut 2” holes at four points around the bottom of the barrel about 4” up.
- Insert 2” elbows into holes and cement in place. You can cut off part of the elbow to let the feed enter at a lower angle.
- Drill holes in the corners of drywall mud trays and corresponding holes in the drum to attach the trays underneath the feed channel. Screw trays in place.
- Attach the drum to the platform with a ratchet strap.
You’ll want to use spray paint to camouflage your feeder before you begin. If you have a white plastic drum, you can leave a strip unpainted to observe the feed level.
4. Tripod Feeder
If you’re looking to build a feeder that’s easy to transport, holds a lot of feed, and automatically distributes feed on a timed schedule, this is the plan for you.
This design uses a metal or plastic drum of whatever size you choose equipped with a motorized automatic feeder such as the type manufactured by American Hunter, Moultrie, and other companies.
Aluminum tubing makes a tripod with detachable legs that can be easily taken off for transport and reattached with a quick-release pin. The brackets to hold the legs are made from tubing slightly larger than the legs so they can slide inside and be secured with a pin.
A hole is cut into the bottom of the drum to allow feed into the motorized feeder. A funnel can be fitted to the inside bottom of the drum to ensure that all the feed is used.
- One metal or plastic drum, camo-painted
- Aluminum tubing, two different diameters
- Six 1/4” bolts with washers and nuts
- Plastic tubing caps
- Motorized automatic feeder
- Large funnel
- Power drill and bits
- Basic hand tools
- Cut leg tubing to the desired length. For bracket tubing, cut three 14” lengths.
- Flatten 4” on one end of bracket tubes and drill two ¼” holes for bolts. Drill another hole 4” from the round end to connect the pin.
- Cut a hole in the bottom of the drum that is approximately the size of the feeder entry.
- Drill holes in the drum and attach brackets with bolts
- Drill ¼” hole in leg tubes 4” from the end that will slide into the bracket
- Bolt automatic feeder to bottom of the drum, fit funnel over the hole in the bottom
- Install tubing caps on the end of the legs and attach them to the bracket with a quick-release pin
Remember to put a piece of plywood under leg caps to keep legs from sinking into soft ground.
5. Protein Trough
This clever design can be done in several ways, but this plan is super sturdy and will last for years. It uses a 55-gallon drum cut in half to hold the feed, mounted on a covered platform made with 4” x 4”s and corrugated roofing panels. A little wood construction experience will help, along with access to the appropriate power tools.
- 55-gallon plastic drum with lid
- Three 4” x 4” x 8’ treated beams
- Three 2” x 4” boards
- Three sheets of corrugated roof panels
- ¼” bolts, nuts, and washers or screws
- Cut 55-gallon drum in half
- The constructed frame and two upright posts are mounted on beams with a crossbeam at the top and another about 32” above the ground.
- Build a roof frame on the platform with 2” x 4”s
- Attach corrugated roofing panels to the frame
Ensure the roof covers enough to protect the feed and brace the posts with 2” x 4” sections.