Buck Feeds On Corn Under The Water

GON received a 15-second video of a Tattnall County buck behaving more like one living in the wetlands of the Everglades.

John N. Felsher | September 8, 2022

Jeffrey Autrey and his associates leased a new patch of hunting land along the Altamaha River in Tattnall County this year and put out some game cameras to electronically scout the area. Jeffrey found a good deer but one acting in a peculiar way.

Before setting up the cameras, Jeffrey, an electrician from Collins, spread a 5-gallon bucket of corn around a low spot on the lease. He set up the camera to overlook that spot not far from the river. Then, heavy rains hit the area, leaving the corn submerged under more than a foot of water. That didn’t stop the buck from feeding off the bottom of the puddle.

“With all the rain lately, that spot started to flood,” Jeffrey said. “At first, I got some photos of the buck. Then, I switched the camera to video. That’s when I caught that deer on video sticking his entire head under the water to feed off the bottom to get at that corn.”

No surprise, deer like to eat corn, but this one went an extra step, or should I say went a little deeper. He submerged his head up to his ears under the water to eat the corn off the bottom of the puddle. How did he know it was there?

“I’ve never seen a deer do anything like that before,” Jeffrey said. “I shared the video with some friends and some old men who have hunted deer for a long time and none of them had ever seen a deer do that before. Most of them have been hunting around that area for decades.”

In clear water, aircraft can easily spot submerged yellow corn from the air. That’s one way that conservation enforcement officers catch people who bait for waterfowl. However, the camera recorded the deer on a pitch-black night, making visibility extremely difficult. In addition, the water looked far from clear.

“I scattered that bucket of corn all through that area,” Jeffrey said. “I didn’t just pile it up in one spot. The water can move that corn around, too. In daylight, I couldn’t see the corn under the water. I even reached down and grabbed some corn off the bottom to make sure that it was still there. There’s no way that buck saw that corn under the water. He had to smell it.”

GON sent the 15-second video to Charlie Killmaster, the head state deer biologist for the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division in Social Circle, for him to review. He gave his opinion.

“No way to know what the deer is eating under the water, but given the trail camera, I would assume it was a baited camera location that was subsequently flooded,” Charlie said. “Deer have a good enough sense of smell to detect food that’s been flooded, and they will eat a variety of aquatic vegetation. While this probably isn’t common behavior for us to observe, except for areas with a ton of wetlands like the Everglades, I have seen videos of deer ‘submarine eating’ in the past.”

From the video, the buck looks like an 8-point, possibly a 9-point. Either way, he looks like a fine, healthy specimen of a Georgia whitetail.

“The next day, I measured where the deer was standing, and it’s about 16 inches deep,” Jeffrey said. “It’s crazy that the buck could find it like that underwater. I’ve seen hogs do that, but I’ve never seen a deer do that before. It’s a pretty good deer. He might have a little sticker coming up to make him a 9-point, but I can’t tell if it’s a scoreable point or not.”

Jeffrey will return to that spot hoping to see that wily buck during shooting hours later this fall.

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  1. BruceRickey on September 13, 2022 at 2:42 pm

    In the early 1980’s while on leave from active duty in the Navy I took the opportunity to go deer hunting with my dad and brother. There was a particular doe that had slipped by and outsmarted a number of people on many occasions. My father and I decided to see if we could figure her out. We got set up and i watched as the old doe and a small 6 point buck that was hanging out with her hide in a shallow pond (maybe 2 feet deep) as a hunter went by. They slipped into the pond and laid down on their sides with just the tops of their heads out of the water only exposing their eyes and nose. They had their ears laid back flat on their heads. They looked like a couple of alligators. About 10 minutes later the deer got out of the water and tracked the hunter till I bagged both of them with neck shots as they hit a clearing. My father heard me shoot and came over to find both of them lying on top of each other. The doe dropped in her tracks and the buck came up to sniff the doe. I shot and he fell on top of her. No body would belive the story, but we had two wet deer and the only water around was that shallow pump pond. So there was not denying it. It is amazing just how aquatic deer can be and how much we underestimate how comfortable they can be in it. I have never before or since heard about deer using water in such a manner for cover. I often wonder how that old doe discovered that she could hide that way in the water.

  2. stevenowens1 on September 12, 2022 at 4:29 pm

    Cool video. My dad had a German Shepard a long time ago that would fetch a rock in about a foot or so of water. How he would find the exact rock that we threw was so amazing.

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