White-tailed Deer Management
White-tailed deer are "browsing" animals. They eat the succulent
tips of many different shrubs, vines and trees, along with a variety of
other foods. No one food predominates throughout the year; what
deer eat depends on the availability of the food, its abundance, and
the season. A deer management plan should include adequate food
supplies for all times of year.
Spring and summer browse - Summer foods consist mainly of
the leaves of annual and perennial plants and shrubs. Deer prefer
summer grape, red clover, Virginia creeper, and Korean lespedeza
during this period.
Fall and winter foods - If plentiful, acorns are the primary food.
Lacking acorns, deer feed on corn, lespedeza, wheat, other crops,
and native plants such as sumac and buckbrush. Twigs of sapling
trees and various shrubs are also important winter foods.
Important Food Plants For Deer:
Acorns, crop residues, asters, blackberries, black haw, cherries,
cinquefoil, clovers, coralberry (buck brush), dogwoods, elms,
fleabanes, goldenrods, grapes, greenbriers, hazelnut, honeysuckle,
Korean and kobe lespedeza, lettuces, maples, persimmon, poison
ivy, pokeweed, roses, sumacs, spurge, strawberry bush, tick trefoils,
violets, Virginia creeper
Woodlots can be managed for deer food production by maintaining
acorn-producing trees, creating brush, and protecting the woodlot
from grazing cattle. About 54 percent of the deer's year-round diet is
acorns. For a good supply of acorns, maintain mature oak trees of
several species, such as post, black, white, northern red, chinquapin,
blackjack and scarlet. About 20 acorn-producing oaks per acre are
required to support deer. These trees should average at least 14
inches in diameter at breast height (DBH). The number of acorns
produced by each tree will depend on its crown size, age, and health,
and on the weather. livestock, since they compete directly with deer for food.
Creating "brush'' or "browse" is the most commonly used
technique for improving white-tailed deer habitat. The brush stage,
or seedling/sapling forest, has nearly three times the amount of twig
production (browse) per acre than a saw-timber stand. Timber
harvest is a good way to create brush, but be sure to leave enough
mature oak trees for a satisfactory acorn crop.
Shrubs and vines are another type of brush. Some common shrubs
and vines browsed by deer are: blueberry, flowering dogwood,
witch-hazel, serviceberry, huckleberry, strawberry bush, honeysuckle,
greenbriers, and viburnum.
Deer require water from a surface source daily. Their water needs
are partially met by the succulent plants they eat, but the lack of
water may keep deer from using areas that otherwise have good
habitat. A management plan for deer should include at least one
water source per square mile.
Evergreens stands are important deer habitat. They provide
shelter from the weather, escape cover and food during winter. Cedar
and pine groves as small as 5 acres are excellent shelter once the
trees are 10-15 feet high.
The Links Below Provide Additional Information
University of Tennessee Publication
"A Guide to Successful Wildlife Food Plots", Pages 47-79