The Different Kinds Of Foods That The White-Tail Deer Feeds On At Different Times

Not many animals look as magnificent and as graceful as the white-tailed deer. Upon spotting them running throughout the woods, chances are high that they are probably looking for food. Many people are not even aware what the white-tailed deer eats. Many just know that a deer eats twigs, acorns, and nuts. According to the National Geographic Society, a white-tailed deer is a herbivore. Funny thing about them is the fact that they are not very picky when matters related to the food they feed on are concerned. There are staples of the white-tailed deer that can eat grass, nuts, twigs, fruits, alfalfa as well as fungi.

The white-tailed deer can change diet depending on the time of the year. It does not feed consistently on a particular diet all year long. Because food is much harder to find during winter, it can eat shoots, bark, and buds. When it’s warmer, they switch to green matter like grass, acorns, nuts, and corn. A white-tailed deer does not always get to eat what it loves most all the time. For instance, it might love fruits a lot but fail to eat them for a very long time especially if the season does not allow for their growth and maturity.

A white-tail deer is classified as a concentrate selector. It has a head that is pointed sharply such that at many instances, it is unable to reach into plants and also being able to only select specific plant parts. Another very interesting characteristic that they come accompanied by is their tongue. It is slender and long, and therefore, allowing them to extract leaves and succulent stems. According to North American Whitetail, a white-tail deer has a rumen that has the capacity of only 2 gallons. This is the equivalent of about 4% of a cow’s stomach. A deer must empty the contents in a maximum time of four hours so that it can be in a position to maintain a much less specialized rumen fauna and flora.

What does a white-tail deer eat specifically?

The foods that a white-tail deer mostly prefers eating can be classified as browse. This is to mean that they are leaves, mushrooms, grass, twigs and generally, any other food type that a deer eats that is of the same nature. Each of the food’s availability is determined by the climate and climate.

A study reveals that the whitetail deer has a preference when it comes top forbs when compared to other food types. However, the sad part is that these foods are not available all year round and therefore, they can not be fully relied upon. The reason the whitetail prefers them is that they are digestible and also rich in nutrients. When temperatures are freezing, the growth of foods is limited, and therefore, forbs can supplement the food supply.

The main and most reliable white-tailed deer mainstay food item is the browse. First of all, browse foods are readily available at many different times of the year and are easily accessible to the deer. Even in instances where browse plants tend to lose their leaves, they still have their stems which are reasonably nutritious, unlike weeds that disappear very fast when the weather changes.

Acorns, fruits, and nuts are refereed to as mast. This is because they have the ability to supply high energy sources even when the deer is undergoing thermal stress, antler growth or even, rapid body growth. The deer loves fruits such as grapes, plums, mulberry, and blackberries. Most of these fruits are used as a high energy source of rich carbohydrates especially when the deer is ex[experiencing antler growth.

In fact, research has proven that digestible energy is the most prominent limiting factor when matters related to the growth of a healthy deer herd are concerned. Other types of fruits such as apples as well as pears can provide the much-needed energy during fall when the deer is storing fat to be used during winter.

The two most important nuts in a deer’s life are acorns and chestnuts. However, both of them can provide very different nutritional needs that are both very imperative to the deer’s health. While acorns are high in fats and carbohydrates, they are low in proteins. On the other hand, chestnuts are high in carbohydrates and proteins and are preferred much more when compared to acorns because they are lower in tannins which are known to inhibit digestion.

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the white-tailed deer does not really like eating grass. However, when the grass is in the early stages, and it is soft and digestible, the deer will eat it if it does not have something else to eat. When compared with cereal grains like oat and wheat, the deer has a much bigger to them and not grass.

Many people overlook mushrooms as a deer delicacy. The white-tailed deer gets very important elements in mushrooms that are phosphorous and protein. Surprisingly, very many tons of mushrooms are provided naturally every year even when the climate is dry and therefore, giving them an adequate supply of the two elements. People who have deer hunting interests can easily look for them in areas with a big natural mushroom concentration.

Foods that the deer feeds on seasonally

When it’s early spring, the whitetail tries to regain the weight lost during the fall and the beginning of the year. During such a time, forbs complete the equation. Not only are they rich in providing high energy, vital minerals and antioxidants, they are also easily digestible. And because phosphorous plays a very key role in antler growth, the forbs serve a really good purpose.

deer eating berries

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When the spring winds down and summer begins, the white-tailed deer quickly shifts to browse plants and especially those that it considers the first choice. When the mid and late summer approaches, the deer starts to shift to the second choice of browse plants as well as early fruits such as berries and grapes. When the fall approaches, on the other hand, the whitetails start looking and consuming large quantities of carbohydrate providing foods such as pears, chestnuts, acorns, and apples. Mushrooms are high in phosphorous which is very imperative when matters related to rebuild the body muscles are concerned.

According to OutdoorLife.Com, wildlife biologists classify browse plants into three categories. In every geographic area, there are specific browse plants that are available, and that can be easily classified into the three categories. Interesting enough, some browse species may belong to the first choice category and in another region, belong to the second choice category. For example, Dogwood is considered a first choice category in Eastern Canada and a second choice category in the South Eastern US.

Generally speaking, the best browse plants are those that do not have a growth pattern that can be considered intermediate. This means that somehow, they tend to remain green and put on some new growth when rainfall and other temperature conditions permit. These are plants like the Japanese honeysuckle, the blackberry, the supplejack as well as the Greenbrier. Browse plants that are less preferred tend to be determinant plants that tend to limit new growth to spring and early summer.

Types of foods preferred by deer in specific areas

foods do Whitetail Deer eat

There are different publications on this particular subject from different reputable organizations like the National Resources Conservation Service as well as top notch agricultural universities from different parts of the globe. Different states and areas have different white-tail deer food preferences. The best way, however, to learn about white-tailed deer preferences is to look for a specific plant identification book that well-illustrating color photographs. The second activity to do is to go to the nearby deer wood and take some time wondering around looking for any signs of plants that have been browsed.

It is easy to distinguish between a rabbit and deer browsing because a deer just pinches off leaves and shoots because they do not have upper front teeth. On the other hand, rabbits angle clean cut the twig because they have very sharp incisors and front teeth.

According to Nyantler-Outdoors.Com, the white-tailed deer is among the most interesting deer species. It has characteristics that can easily guide anyone who wants to do some basic research on their behavior characteristics at any given time.

The site also clearly states that food plots and food plotting are the most popular ways that are used to do Quality Deer Management. Food plots also differ generally from re-vegetation which is growing grasses, trees and shrubs. That said, white-tailed deer have proven that survival in the vegetation is possible when survival tactics are employed.

Being able to survive during the coldest and hottest season proves that the survival tactics are top-notch. The white-tailed deer has and will remain not just one of the most admired herbivores, but one of the most systematic when matters related to coping with different seasons are concerned.


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