Upon encountering a troublesome black bear who continuously tore up my deer feeders, I decided I was going to have to come up with a better solution to the cheap plastic Moultrie ones I had installed. I began searching the hunting forums for answers but everything I read kept repeating the same old story that there is no bear-proof deer feeder. Most people suggested hanging a barrel spreader between two sturdy trees. There were plenty of examples of crafty bears getting to these as well. There are of course some massive deer feeders for sale for thousands of dollars that would work if I had the money to blow or a way to haul something that large onto the property. My property is very rugged, and everything has to be carried in by hand. After a couple of hours searching I did find a couple of designs that were small enough to bring in, but they still were close to $800.00.
There had to be a better solution. I headed into my shop and drew up some plans for a steel fortress to house a 30-gallon barrel spreader. I headed up to my local steel supplier for the raw materials, tossed a new tank on the welder and got to work.
The Bear-Proof Deer Feeder Build
The first task was to construct a steel frame to house the barrel.
Once the frame was welded up, it was time to give the beast some armor plating. I used 1/8 inch steel plate that is plenty sturdy and didn’t kill me on the weight. Before welding them to the frame, I drilled hole sets for the support legs I had yet to complete.
To this point, it’s still just a conventional albeit heavy feeder design. The 45-degree support legs were the first real modification. These were designed to provide adequate stability to survive a hungry bear. These legs are juxtapositioned to the frame legs for added support. Because of the length of the legs, I had to make them adjustable due to the sloping, uneven terrain and they had to be removable for transport. Each leg also has a steel foot with a hole drilled to accommodate an 18-inch rebar ground stake.
Next on the list was to build out the critter cage and spray a coat of primer on the beast. The inside of the cage has sheet metal angles to ensure the feed falls outside the enclosure.
Time to give the beast a facelift and add a cage door for easy access to the spreader controls.
Only a few additions left to create. One of the things I noticed about my troublesome bear is that he liked to rear up on his hind legs and hug and push the feeders from the top where the container held the corn. I took a page from Mad Max and added rebar spikes attached to the upper plate panels. The spikes are sharp enough to be uncomfortable but not so sharp as to injure the bear.
For the final touches, I added a solar battery charger and put plastic end caps on all the open-ended square tube to protect the steel from moisture. Nothing left to do but load up the truck, head to Oklahoma and plant “The Beast.”
After it was all said and done the Bear-Proof Deer Feeder could most likely withstand a tornado, and it only cost about $250.00 and a few weeks of fun in the shop. That’s a bargain in my book.
Update Video: After three days and many hours the bear gives up and the beast wins. Had to do a slight modification as the bear was able to spin the barrel which did cause a loss of a small amount of feed. The real issue is he tears the wire out of the solar charger which I have to fix each time.