Whitetail Deer Nutrition & Deer Feeding Habits

Whitetails are extremely adaptable and food preferences and requirements vary greatly between and even among regions. Whitetail deer are picky eaters when compared to other species of deer. Whitetail deer are specialized feeders that specifically select their food in order to satisfy there nutritional requirements.

Whitetail Deer Nutrition

Whitetail Deer Nutrition & Deer Feeding HabitsDeer in general like to eat Forbs. A Forb is a herbaceous flowering plant that is not a germinoid (grasses, sedge and rushes). Some examples of forbs are clover, sunflower, old man’s beard, and milkweed. Forbs are more easily digestible for them unlike the high in fiber grasses that are difficult for deer to digest.

Although deer love forbs these are seasonal plants that cannot be located all year around. When forbs cannot be located Whitetails will rely on mast (Beach nuts, wild cherry, and acorns) during the fall months. During winter Whitetail deer nutrition will focus almost entirely on buds and twigs.

Although the amount of food that a deer needs to consume varies between region, gender, and body weight. On average a they needs to consume about 3% of their body weight each day. A buck weighing around 125 pounds will need to consume 4,000 calories each day. 4,000 calories can be extracted from 4 to 10 pounds of grass, forbs, and twigs.

Picky Eaters

Whitetail deer once again are picky eaters and prefer some plants over another. White tailed deer often feed on economically valuable tree species preferring oak and maple over less digestible american beech and striped maple. (Acorns are a favorite in the winter) White tail deer not only need the nutrition to survive, but also to thrive. A Growing buck will need an extra 16% protein in his diet to grow a big health wall hanging rack. Whitetail deer nutrition can very slightly from area to area.

Whitetail Deer and Water needs

Deer in general prefer to live close to a water source providing them with the most bio-diversity when it comes to palatable plants. Not only does a deer need these nutrient rich plants but much like humans to survive they need to consume about 3 to 6 quarts of water a day, depending on the outside environmental conditions. Unlike when it comes to food sources, deer are not a picky when it comes to water. Whitetail deer will get water from any source available. Ponds, creeks, rivers springs, dew, snow and even mud puddles are not out of the question when it comes to water sources. Often if there is a muddy puddle or secluded depression in the ground and deer in the area you will find deer tracks. Although water is highly important to deer they will travel a great deal if need be to get water. 

Whitetail Deer Habitat

Deer move and they move a lot. We all know that deer are grazing animals. On an average day a deer will travel an area between 400-800 acres. That’s roughly 1.2 square miles of area that a deer will cover. If you know where the food and where the water is on your property or the public land you hunt you will be able to extrapolate the path between the two and start your summer scouting for deer trails. Understanding Whitetail Deer Nutrition & Deer Feeding Habits will make you a better hunter and more apt to fill that tag when season opens!

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Gregory Beckman

About the Author:

Hi, I am Gregory Beckman, as the main owner of Military Hunting and Fishing let me tell you a little bit more about myself. I am currently an active duty member in the United States Coast Guard. I have been privileged to traveling the world. My experiences have shaped the way that I see the world and my memories will stick with me for a lifetime. Although I may not live in the country, the country lives in me. Traveling the world I have had the chance to experience the wonders of nature in many different places, meeting many different people and tasting wild game that the normal person would not get to experience. Although these experiences have kept me away from home, it has instilled a deep passion of hunting and fishing in my blood. Thank you for joining our site, and I look forward to interacting and sharing stories of our hunting adventures. Gregory A. Beckman
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