Whitetail deer are notorious for all out feasting – especially if you consider that they consume about 5 to 8 pounds of food for every 100 pounds of body weight, per day. I think it is crucial that every hunter understands the feeding habits of their deer herd.
Whitetails are known to gorge on over 600 species of plants in North America. Their food choice and preference is primarily based on their location or region. What deer eat is referenced from what exactly is available in their home range and the nutrients they require to grow healthy and bigger bone.
The growing season of spring and summer offer deer with the most optimal and proliferate food choices. They have a buffet of forest shrubbery, leaves, soybeans, and corn. This is a time when they put on weight to prepare for the harsh winter months.
As you and I can attest, once October arrives, the whitetail’s feeding pattern and diet changes drastically as soybeans ripen and fallen mast crops speckle the forest floor – i.e., nuts. From both red and white acorns, beechnuts, and hickory nuts; whitetail begin shifting diet patterns to low protein high carbohydrates. These carbohydrate rich foods add needed weight to the whitetail that will give them an extra boost come harvest time.
There are many misconceptions about whitetail feeding characteristics, which include but are not limited to the following:
1. Deer only eat during the mornings and afternoons.
2. Deer won’t travel to locations where food is more abundant.
3. Deer will only eat nuts.
4. Deer are not grazers.
5. Deer require only small portions of food in comparison to their body size.
As many of us have heard on television or read in different hunting magazines, deer need year round nutrition to develop healthy bone and antler structure. Healthy doe produce healthy fawns, which has proved to spawn very healthy bucks.
Summer plays a critical role in the wellbeing of whitetail – that is why creating mineral sites is an absolute must right now. Vitalize, which is a local Wisconsin company that I know manufactures a perfect recipe of mineral and vitamins that will provide your herd an excellent balance of health and nutrition. Mineral is a great way to enhance your properties whitetail potential by supplemental feeding year round so that there is literally nothing that your herd is not getting for optimal growth.
A good mineral should provide bucks with maximum antler growth and body composition, stimulate protein synthesis, and increase doe lactation and fertility.
Whitetail eating etiquette may differentiate across the country, but the fundamental aspects of what they need to consume to is very similar.