Motorized Automatic Feeders for Deer, Turkey or Other Wildlife Attraction

Ready made motorized automatic feeders are readily available at nearly all hunting retailers but many do not have the components necessary to make your own. Once again the internet fills this gap.

The motorized wildlife feeder is easy to make and save money while doing so. To make your own you will need the following:

  • a barrel to provide a large source of  grain or protein pellets,  metal 30 or 55 gallon barrels are the most practical size, If you plan to feed several months during the year the 55gal will provide longer use times between fillings.
  • a removable top will be required. The best tops are the type with a band to clamp the top to the barrel.
  • legs to mount the barrel at a height of about six feet to the bottom. The three leg tripod design works well. They can be made of pipe or angle iron steel shapes. Galvanized electrical conduit is long lasting. In either case a mounting configuration decision has to be made. The steel or pipe legs can be directly attached to the barrel or to a ring which the barrel can sit on.
  • Some sort of steel leg reinforcement ties, these can be the same material as the legs. Make them long enough to bolt between two legs and provide stability. (an economical option is to make the entire barrel stand of 2" X 4" treated lumber.)
  • an economical option is to make the stand of 2" X 4" treated lumber.
  • if using a barrel, an inverted inner cone (funnel) having a small hole will be necessary to keep the feed from sitting stagnant in the corners and fostering dangerous fungus growths. Besides it will be more efficient to have the cone.
  • a motorized spinning wheel with mounting brackets to bolt to the bottom of the barrel under the feed hole. This is what makes this a motorized automatic feeder.
  • a battery to provide power for the motor.
  • an optional solar charger for the battery ( this precludes the having to remove the battery and charge it with your vehicle.)

A hole can be cut near the bottom of the barrel and a door installed so the battery can sit behind it. This will be in the space below the inverted cone. Hinges and a locking hasp can be tack welded or bolted to the barrel and door for theft security. The control board photocell and/or timer for starting and stopping the motorized automatic feeder can be mounted on the little door. If the control board has a photocell  a hole will have to be cut in the door to allow light entry. To keep the elements out glue a small piece of clear acrylic over the hole. Better yet make the door from clear acrylic. When setting up the feeder the window for the photocell should be facing north. DIY motorized automatic feeders components can be ordered from a single convenient source.

DIY deer feeder

Home made motorized automatic feeder with wooden hopper:

The same components ( motorized automatic feeder slinger and motor ) can also be used with the home made wooden feeder. Decide on the size box you want and build in a 45 degree sloped inverted pyramid in the lower section. Choose the motorized automatic feeder you desire. Such feeders have a built in auger to pull deer feed from the hopper. Drill a hole in the center of the inverted pyramid based on the motorized automatic feeder manufacturers instructions. If there are no instructions keep the hole as small as possible, for sure less than 11/4" in diameter. The idea is to have a hole small enough that it will bridge over and stop flowing from gravity when the motorized automatic feeder is not running. The construction of the box matters little as long as it is strong. Marine grade 1/2" plywood sheathing with a treated 2" X 2" frame will be plenty strong. The 2" x 2" which rings the top of the box should be ripped on the high side to the same angle as the box slope for proper fit after adding hinges.

Make the hopper lid (top cover) large enough to keep blowing rain out. A 3-4" overlap will work if sealed as discussed later. Center the lid over the top of the box and draw a continuous line around the box on the lid. Place hinges so that they are on the high side. if looking for security position hinges so the leaves are inside the box  The box should be built such that the lid will slope like a shed roof .The top can be cut from the same treated plywood. To assure a good weather tight seal apply self adhesive closed cell rubber or flexible plastic window stripping around top where itcontacts the box Cover the lid with plain old tar paper and shingles. Make a lid holder from a length of  2" x 2", drill a hole near one end, the size required to allow it to swivel around a bolt you position as shown on the side of the box. This stick will hold up the top while the hopper is being filled. A1" x 2" strip along the front lip of the top will serve for a stick support.

Add legs or build a separate platform from treated 2" x 4" lumber. and add a locking hasp between the top and box. As done with the metal drum, cut a hole near the bottom and make a wooden cover to mount the battery and control board.

Last no matter the type of feeder you build or buy when setting it up set the legs on concrete pads. They are available from the lumber yards and can be drilled for bolts to hold the legs in place. These pads will help prevent rusting and corrosion an well as termites and will keep the legs from sinking in the ground after rains.

Finally paint the motorized automatic feeder hopper exterior with a good deck stain having a five year minimum life warranty. Deck stain protects the wood while allowing moisture to be eliminated. and will not peel like paint.

Feed Timing

Many control boards cause the motorized automatic feeders to feed at daybreak and sunset. Feeding at daybreak is great because you can see the animals for the rest of the day but feeding at sunset is not practical because it is illegal to hunt after sunset. For this reason the control board the hunter chooses should feed at sunrise when the photocell activates then feed again about 30 min. before sunset. To do this get a control board with a photocell and adjustable timer. This forces the deer to start moving earlier in the afternoon than they would normally do.

Motorized Automatic Feeder Preventative Maintenance:

Being a mechanical device motorized automatic feeders require maintenance and  hunting season is not the time for your equipment to fail.

If the feeder fails prematurely and stops feeding, what do the deer do?

The motor can burn up, the battery and chargers can fail, wires corrode, get shorted and seals fail causing motor freeze up. If any wire terminations are bare or become bare coat them with silicone construction sealant.

Purchase a spare control board and battery in the least. When going to the lease or hunting site take the well charged spare battery. Take a volt meter with to check the old battery and charger output. Check for loose connections and tighten. Spray w/silicone weather proffer.

Check the slinger, use it to spin the motor, if it is loose you are going to need an Allen wrench so put one in the kit. If the motor does not spin freely it may require replacement. At the least take some machine oil and use it in the shaft even if it has sealed bearings Trip the timer to make sure it runs and feeds corn.

Check the lid and seal to make sure the feed is not getting wet. Before refilling an empty hopper brush out any residual feed.

When the season is over remove the battery and charger. If not too much trouble remove the motor also and store inside. Remember do not store batteries on a concrete floor, lift them off the floor with a painted board.

Your Tool Kit

As pointed out earlier get a dedicated Allen wrench for all sizes used in your feeder a multi-meter , screw drivers of both kinds, pliers and a couple of crescent wrenches.

Machine oil, roll of electrical tape, 3M Scotch 33 is best. Add a tube of silicone construction sealant and can of silicone spray. A small bottle of liquid wire insulation might be handy. Add a fresh roll of foam insulation tape and granulated ant poison to put in motor case.