What Does A Deer Eat Seasonally And Regionally To Survive? - What Type Of Food Does A Deer Eat?

Updated: 06 Apr 2021



To understand "what does a deer eat," We will start from a deer's diet. Deer morphology, behavior, and nature have evolved to enable them to choose certain grasses that are not available to other possible forage rivals such as cattle, elk, and moose. They can elegantly eat individual plant parts with their narrow mouth and long tongue.

What Does A Deer Eat?

The list of plants that a deer eat is lengthy. Whitetail deer eat 400 different plant species in the Southeast alone. Deer can test new types of nutrients by sampling from a variety of species regularly.

In one study, deer can eat over 140 plant species, but only about a third of them consist of 93% of their total diet. According to the National Geographic website, white-tailed deer are herbivores.

Grass, berries, twigs, alfalfa, corn, fruit, and fungi are some of the white-tailed deer's favorite foods. Leaves, twigs of woody plants, forbs, grasses, nuts and fruits, and mushrooms are examples of deer foods.

The availability of each of these foods varies based on the time of year and weather conditions. Although deer favor forbs over all other food sources, in general, forbs are more digestible and nutrient-dense. Weeds don't thrive in freezing temperatures or during long stretches of drought, so they're best for a temporary food source.

What Do Baby Deer Eat?

Baby deer before the age of 12 weeks only drink their mother's milk. After three months, they start to eat solid plants like fruits, grass, and leaves.

What Do Wild Deer Eat?

Fruits and nuts are favorites of deer. If we talk about nuts, they mostly eat beechnuts,  pecans, and hickory nuts. While in the fruits, they mainly consume blueberries, apples, and carrots.

What Do Fawns Eat?

The fawns eat the same food as their mother when they grow bigger. They mostly eat:

  • Fruits and Nuts
  • Leaves
  • Alfalfa
  • Twigs
  • Grain
  • Grass

A mother provides shelter to her fawns independently from one another for safety reasons.

What Does Deer Like To Eat?

Deers like to eat a variety of food, it includes:

  • Berries
  • Grass
  • Fruit
  • Corn
  • Fungi
  • Alfalfa

Sometimes, they also want to eat:

  • Mushrooms
  • Forbs
  • Grasses
  • Woody Plants

What Does A White Tailed Deer Eat?

Whitetail deer prefer to eat the following food mainly in the spring and winter:

  • Plant Buds
  • Acorns
  • Fungus
  • Acorns
  • Twigs

White-tailed deer, like most other animals, are herbivores.

What Does A Mule Deer Eat?

In the spring and summer, mule deer eat plants and forbs, but they are predominantly eaters. Fresh, delicate branches, new bushes, nutrient-dense leaves, juicy grasses, and forbs are among the high feed items chosen.

Deer devour timber, flowers, and nuts, among other things.

What Do Muntjac Deer eat?

Muntjacs Deer are omnivores. They like to eat the following food Mostly:

  • Nuts
  • Fungus
  • Blooms
  • Herbs
  • Grasses
  • Berries
  • Succulent Shoots

They may eat tree wood as well.

What Does A Red Deer Eat?

In summer, red deers prefer to consume the following food in the wild:

  • Shrubs
  • Grasses
  • Forbs

While in the winter, they enjoy the woody plant, it includes the following food items:

  • Mushrooms
  • Wintergreen
  • Basswood
  • Red Maple
  • Jack Pine
  • Clover
  • Asters
  • Violets

What Do Deer Eat Seasonally?

What Does Deer Eat In The Winter?

Within the year, whitetails attempt to recover weight lost during the winter. That's when forbs come into their own! They're easy to digest and packed with energy, minerals, and antioxidants. Mushrooms are an authentic prize because phosphorus is in such high demand for antler growth and raising fawns.

What Does Deer Eat In The Summer?

Deer begin to eat plants, especially the first choice plants, as spring ends and summer begins. In the middle and late summer, deer's diet shifts to second-choice browse plants and early fruits, including grapes and berries.

Whitetails find and eat large amounts of carbohydrate-rich foods such as acorns, chestnuts, apples, and pears as autumn approaches.

What Time Of Day Do Deer Eat?

Deer love to graze as soon as the sun rises and as soon as the sunsets. During these times, they become highly energetic. Give food to your beloved deer twice each day, in the morning as the sun rises and in the night as the sunsets. At every meal, add a handful of different foodstuffs to keep things interesting.

What Does A Deer Eat Regionally?

Biologists divide these plants into three groups. Some plant species reflect these three classifications in each geographic region and knowing the first option plants will help you identify prime deer feeding areas. Some deer species may be the first choice in one geographic area but the second choice in another.

Dogwood is a first-choice plant in eastern Canada but a second-choice plant in the southeastern United States. Japanese honeysuckle, greenbrier, blackberry, and Alabama supplejack are examples of vining species. Plants that aren't as common as browse plants are determinant, meaning they only grow in the spring and early summer. These plants become less digestible after that.


Browse, forbs, and mast are a significant part of the total diet of white-tailed deer across their range, and it is equal to 85%. Browse and forbs consist of 80% of a deer's diet in all seasons except autumn; they are the most effective for supplying nutritional needs.

The mast is strongly favored, so its presence affects forage selection throughout the year. Mast consumption rises from 11 percent in the summer to 28 percent in the fall.

Leaf buds and evergreen leaves are valuable in northern areas during the winter because they are highly nutritious, advantageous, and quickly digestible.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What Do Deer Like To Eat The Most?

They mainly eat woody portions of leaves and stems, forbs, mast, and grass. These are favorite food items for deer; each food quantity varies depending on the time of year and the area you are hunting.

2. Do Deer Eat Carrots?

Carrots are so delicious for deer that some people grow them specifically for them to maintain deer areas.

3. What Food Attracts Deer The Most?

Red clover, chicory, and orchard grass are all deer attractants. Peas, soybeans, turnips, alfalfa, sorghum, kale, and corn, among other high-protein crops, are also delicious dishes that the animals enjoy consuming. Deer also want the nutritious nuts mostly they find in chestnuts and acorns.

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