What Do Deer Eat? Top 20 Favorite Foods

An heavy-bodied buck chows down on a corn cob. jimcumming88 / Adobe Stock

By Dave Hurteau / Field & Stream

The answer to What Do Deer Eat? includes just about everything that grows up from the ground or falls from a tree—including the tree itself. Given the choice between an apple, an acorn, and a clover shoot, a deer will eat all three. They’re nibblers. They like a good buffet. Deer may spend more time at the soybean or alfalfa station, but they are going to try everything.

One of the key reasons deer are so adaptable and successful as a species is because they can eat hundreds and hundreds of different foods. All manner of grasses, sedges, forbs, herbs, legumes, fruits, nuts, grains, roots, twigs, leaves, and even rodents and birds are on the menu. One study identified more than 400 plant species as deer food, and that was just in the Southeast. The overall number may be twice that. Luckily for hunters, deer do have favorites. For us, the question isn’t just what do deer eat but what foods are they most drawn to throughout the season—and so we’ll cover both. CONTINUE READING

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