Acorns

The Whitetail Deer's Favorite Food

White Oak

Acorns are the preferred whitetail deer food in the Eastern US. The deer love them so much that in heavy crop years, a whitetail may pass up all other food sources for this tasty nut..

Although acorns are low in protein content, they are very high in fats and carbohydrates. Their nutrients are easily absorbed and digested in the whitetails system and are processed quickly. Even with the low protein content, during a bumper crop year deer will eat so many that it will still provide them with an abundant amount of protein. A whitetail can gain weight and muscle quickly during these bumper crop years and by late October will have a thick layer of fat stored for the winter.

In New York the red and white oak are most common. When it comes to acorns though deer have a preference and at the top of that list is the white oak. This is because the White Oak nut has a low amount of tannic acid.

Tannic acid is a chemical compound produced by plants to discourage predators from eating their seeds, leaves and stems. The lower level of tannic acid in the White Oak makes it less bitter and very desirable to the deer.

Below is a list of acorns by preference to the Whitetail Deer

Oak Leaves
  • White Oak
  • Pin Oak
  • Red Oak
  • Black Oak
  • Bur Oak
  • Live Oak

Unfortunately for the whitetail deer, White Oak trees produce heavy crops only once every few years. Red Oaks, however, produce heavily every other year, making them a good food source when White Oak acorns are scarce. Following the seasonal growth pattern of oak trees and their acorn mass can be a key element to hunting success. Find the nuts, and you will find the deer!


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