Beef Up Your Bucks With the Best Deer Protein for Antler Growth

Christian | |

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If you want to bulk up at the gym, you take a protein supplement. If you want to bulk up your herd of whitetail deer, you need to get them to do the same. In fact, protein is essential for helping your bucks grow the biggest antlers they can. Tried and tested in the field, these are the six best deer protein products for antler growth and herd management.

Our Top Picks

Note: Our individual reviews are below, but you can also click any of the links above to check current prices on Amazon and other retailers

Large whitetail deer foraging in the woods
Protein grows antlers….

How to Start a Protein Feeding Program for Your Deer

Find a Spring/Summer Feeding Area or Sow a Food Plot

While many deer protein supplements include attractants and scents that lure deer in, it’s still a good idea to place them somewhere where deer are likely to go anyway. Ideally, use trail cameras to find a food plot they browse frequently or an area where you can plant your own. Additionally, if you plan to harvest the herd during the hunting season, it will make things easier for you if this is also a food plot near a good hunting spot like a natural deer funnel.

Use a Deer Feeder

There are several ways to get your deer to eat more protein. Some protein feeds can be spread across the ground while others come in a block. And of course, you can plant protein-rich plants in a food plot. 

Personally, though, my preferred method is a deer feeder. It allows you to more consistently provide the herd with protein without the deer going through it in a single day or particular deer taking it all. Just place the feeder in the food plot and fill it as necessary.

Adjust Your Ratios for the Season

Deer need different amounts of protein depending on the season, especially bucks. Giving the herd a protein supplement year round can improve their health, but you should only ramp it up to 16 percent in the summer. Spring levels can be around eight percent with lower proportions in the fall and winter.

What Is Good Protein for Deer?

Deer are great at digesting and incorporating plant proteins. They mainly get these from plants like soybeans, alfalfa and clover. Additionally, peas and nuts like peanuts and acorns have high ratios of protein that deer love.

When Do Deer Need Protein?

Deer need protein year round but especially during the spring and summer with a peak in the summer. During this time fawns are growing, does are nursing them, and the bucks are sprouting their antlers at up to half an inch per day. All these processes require large amounts of protein.

How Much Protein Do Deer Need to Grow Antlers?

A lot. Antlers can consist of some 200 inches of growth made of up to 40% protein. Bucks do this in just a few months, so much of the over 9,000 calories they eat per day needs to be protein. 

Specifically, 16-20 percent of what a buck eats in the summer should be protein. Studies have found a four-year-old buck eating just eight percent protein can lose up to 20 inches off their antlers as a result.

In-Depth Product Reviews

Ani-Logics Ani-Protein Block 365 Nutritional Supplement

Convenience is the defining factor of the Ani-Logics protein block. Not only does it come in a great affordable price range, you can give your deer a consistent supplement that prevents any nutrient deficiencies thanks to the subscription option. Then finally, the block design makes it easy to leave in your food plot, getting deer to feed and travel exactly where you want.

As for the nutrients themselves, the 14 percent protein mix is great for late spring and summer feeding, promoting antler growth when it’s most active. Plus, it has minerals like manganese and selenium that aren’t found in other supplements. This doesn’t just maximize antler growth but promotes overall health of the herd and the development of fawns during the summer.

What we liked:

  • Affordable price range
  • Subscription option
  • Convenient block design
  • 14% protein
  • Mineral supplements

What we didn’t:

  • Nothing!

Check the price on Cabelas »

Antler King Apple Flavored Grainiac Block

The Grainiac block isn’t just a good supplement for your feed plot. It’s a great way to lure in deer and get them eating right, regularly perusing the territory you want them to, and passing by your trail cams. And the 16 percent protein means big, healthy bucks with their antlers at maximum genetic potential.

The block is convenient for putting in your food plots, though it’s obviously not ideal for a deer feeder. My favorite feature, though, is the added molasses that attracts deer so they take advantage of the mix of protein from the corn, soybeans, sunflower seeds and peanuts. If I have one complaint, it’s just that I wish the block were bigger because a herd can go through it so fast that it’s hard to replenish.

What we liked:

  • 16% protein
  • Molasses for scent and flavor
  • Convenient block
  • Detailed food mix

What we didn’t:

  • Doesn’t work with feeders
  • Small size

Whitetail Institute 30-06 “Plus Protein” Mineral and Vitamin Supplement

This 30-06 supplement is a great choice if you don’t want to spend too much time or money but still want to help your bucks with their antler growth. It’s an easy feed sack that you can spread over a plot or put in a feeder, and the price is good too.

While this doesn’t have as much focus on protein as other feeds, it’s still good for your spring feeding. And it does contain a lot of vitamins and minerals that other feeds don’t to make sure your herd doesn’t have any deficiencies.

What we liked:

  • Easy to use
  • Value price
  • Vitamins and minerals

What we didn’t:

  • Less protein mix

Purina Animal Nutrition Antlermax Deer 20 Climate GD Pellet

If you are just getting into herd management and feel that the deer on your property have been suffering from malnutrition. With 20 percent protein and tons of minerals, it has one of the highest ratios of protein among feeds and supplements that we’ve found, which can help bucks get their antlers up to their genetic potential and let the entire herd recuperate from a rough winter.

Just keep in mind that this is a supplement. The high ratios and large amount of corn can lead to digestive upsets if the deer eat too much, which means you need to be vigilant about rationing it through a deer feeder near a larger food plot. Luckily, this is easy thanks to the pellet design.

What we liked:

  • High amount of protein
  • Various mineral compounds
  • Easy for use in feeders

What we didn’t:

  • Price range
  • Can cause digestive problems

Tecomate Lablab Plus Deer Food Plot Seed Mix

Instead of sowing a monoculture food plot, consider using a seed mix like this Lablab bag. It grows a wide variety of plants including peas, beans, and sorghum. This provides the entire herd with protein and other nutrients that, in the case of the bucks, helps them grow the biggest antlers possible.

While this mix can be a bit pricier, you get long-term results since they’re actual full plants and can cover up to two acres. Plus, it’s anti-drought and has sunflowers to protect the other plants, so you can keep your deer nurtured regardless of the conditions.

What we liked:

  • Protein-rich plants
  • Covers up to 2 acres
  • Anti-drought
  • Sunflowers for protection

What we didn’t:

  • Price range

I'm an avid hunter, archer and outdoorsman. I was born and raised in the Ozarks, my aunt taught me to hunt and I've been shooting bows since I was a kid.

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