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White-tailed Deer Management

Food 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.

Water Management

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.

Cover Management

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


  What to do when

Use the planning calendar below for tips on enhancing your land throughout the year. Click any of the selections below for more details.






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