I have fed protein 365 days a year for the last 25 yrs now on various ranches. Never stopped. I just start with corn feeders in Aug and feed normal daylight hours. Bucks feed at night due to heat so don't worry about nocturnal deer once it gets cooler. If the deer live on your lease or land then they will move in daylight once the rut gets closer. I have found that feeding protein year round the bucks raised on it prefer to eat it over corn up till the really cold weather hits and the rut. From what I have seen in South Texas they will walk over corn to eat protein up until November. I use a road feeder exclusively to feed corn in areas to allow mature bucks access to feed/cover quickly.
Thanks for your insights. I was hoping the bucks were nocturnal due to the heat. The good news is that the bucks do seem to live on our lease. We have feeders and water on the lease.
Bucks can be "nocturnal" if they have to travel a distance to get the feeders. The deer I have on TC that live on my place feed right just after dark, right after midnight and right before daylight. The bucks that do not live on my place feed from midnight till about 4-5 am mainly. Not every deer does this same thing every time but that is their main routine. I also have some bucks that show up right around 7 am every morning at a feed location but they are going to or coming from a water trough. There is not a lot of water available and it the waters sources are spread out around me so it changes deer movement patterns when it gets really hot and dry.
Some other thoughts. I have seen young deer raised on protein on LF ranches have a smaller core area as they grow up. They tend to not roam as far from those feeders( or year round food plots for that matter). I have seen yearling bucks stay put and not leave their home range also. Not everyone will do that but some will. Having feed out year round can help hold deer closer to your land/lease.
IME feeding protein year round is expensive if you are not addressing all the management aspects of the herd. If it is just a supplement for deer when they need it then it will not be as costly unless you hit a bad drought. The good part about feeding is it takes away the peaks and valleys by caused by rainfall. You still can only grow deer as big as your genetics are capable of no matter how much feed you put out. The protein can help them to do that when it is used as a supplement. I also like the fact that it can help increase fawn numbers in drier times with the increased nutrition to the does. This can increase buck numbers in the future if hunting pressure stays constant. Increased buck numbers can increase age structure also. Again these are just my observations and experiences. Other people might have different ones or some of the same experiences.