Q&A: Do Deer Eat…?
Find me a more majestic and graceful wild animal than the deer, you will probably find that difficult. When you spot one of them hopping throughout the woods, your guess will be as good as mine. They are looking for food- fruits, nuts, twigs, acorns, or in worst case scenarios, anything they can find.
Deer will eat a whole lot of farm varieties they find in their way. Let us answer some of the most common questions that you may also be asking yourself as you plan to grow various plants in your garden. For those who also hunt for deer attractant, this could be helpful to you as well.
1. Do Deer Eat Watermelon?
If you love watermelons, then you are not alone. More so, if you live in an area where deer are naturally present. In this case, you may have to employ some protective measures to enjoy exclusivity to the watermelon growing in your garden.
Deer damage is likely to be worse in dry seasons since watermelons provide much-needed moisture. Deer like watermelon particularly as the watery fruit begins to ripen. The damage caused by the deer is, however, less extensive compared to other wild animals such as the coyotes.
This is because they usually don’t consume an entire watermelon; they may chew some of the insides of the melon or make holes in the rind and scoop.
How To Stop Deer From Damaging Your Watermelon
You wouldn’t want to share your precious watermelon with the savage deer, would you? Well, here are of the tips that you could use to prevent the deer from destroying your fruit:
- Electric fences and repellants are the most common methods. However, if there’s a large number of hungry deer then the repellant will only work for so long.
- You could also try using motion sensors as well as raw eggs and essential oils. For some reason deer hate their smell.
2. Do Deer Eat Crab Apples?
There is a growing list of improved varieties of crab apples, most of which are dear to deer. This is a major challenge if you are a deer hunter as there is a variety of crab apples to choose from.
Some of these crab apple varieties include the disease-resistant ones such as the small, flowering crab apples. However, most of these have very little value as deer food since they either don’t drop their fruits or have tiny fruits.
Do deer prefer some crab apple variety to others? Yes! Some crab apples remain uneaten by deer until they deplete other foods available, while others are sucked up even before they stop rolling after falling to the ground.
Reasons for this preference are, however still unclear. Deer might choose the most nutritious fruit, or it could just be a matter of mere taste. Your taste perception is definitely different to that of a deer. However, a deer should be able to taste sour, salty, sweet, and bitter due to the arrangement and design of their taste buds.
When choosing crab apples for deer be sure to include both bitter (eaten late) and sweet (eaten early).
3. Do Deer Eat Potatoes?
The general experience from experts and potato growers in different parts of the world is that deer do not normally eat potato plants. They have a habit of nibbling at any plant to experiment and see if it’s good to eat. But potato leaves are somewhat toxic.
However, there have been several reports of deer eating some varieties of potato leaves. So don’t get too comfortable with your potatoes lying on the garden unprotected. In fact, some people believe that during desperate times deer can eat just about anything, including potatoes.
Some year’s deer cause more damage to potatoes than others. They are far from the deer’s favorite, but if there is pretty nothing else to eat, which is often the case early in the season, they will definitely eat your precious potatoes.
On the positive note, if there is anything else around the potatoes, such as shrubs, grass, or even any other kind of weed, they will eat those instead. Evaluate your site for planting your potatoes and see whether the deer will leave them alone. If there is enough grass or shrubs, then your potatoes should be safe, not only from deer but also from several other critters.
4. Do Deer Eat Tomatoes?
As we mentioned earlier deer will eat almost any kind of foliage they can put their mouth on when they are really hungry. Your tomato plants are no exception. Its bad news for you when they discover the tops of your tomato plants.
There are several solutions that you could employ to keep deer away from your tomatoes. Most of these solutions work best when used in combination to complement each other.
Here are some steps you could follow to ensure that your tomatoes are safe:
- Hammer wooden stakes into the ground around the garden perimeter. The number of stakes you use will depend on the size of your garden, but make sure they are enough to support the mesh. Ensure that mesh and the stakes are at least 8 feet high and the mesh covers the full length of the stakes. This prevents the deer from jumping over or crawling under the fence.
- Fill a pump sprayer with 16 parts water and 1 part hot sauce. Spray every inch of your tomato plants such that they’re dripping with the hot sauce solution on a calm day. After a period of rains, reapply the solution. This solution will harm neither your tomatoes nor the deer.
- Fill two nylon stockings with strong-scented bar soap and hang them within 3 feet of each of your tomato plant. The scent will deter the deer.
5. Do Deer Eat Hickory Nuts / Pecans?
“Hickory nuts are way too hard for the deer to crack“ you would think. Well, according to many people you are probably right. However, a good number of hunters argue that it is possible that deer do eat hickory nuts. But either way, it is safe to say that deer rarely eat hickory nuts.
According to a number of witnesses, bitter hickory or pignut hickory are reported to be the most common hickory nuts that deer have been spotted eating, on very rare occasions though and especially during extremely dry conditions where there is barely anything else for the deer to eat.
The bitter hickory or pignut hickory is a variety that is particularly very thin shelled. A few other people have also claimed that they witnessed deer eat regular hickory nuts especially in years where there’s very little mast crop available. Quite amazing!
While deer may as well eat hickory, you would be wasting your precious time trying to hunt in areas that are rich in hickory, if there are better foods for the deer available. Desperate times call for desperate measures. From the above opinions, do not be surprised to find a deer cracking that hard hickory nut.
6. Do Deer Eat Bananas?
Deer like bananas. Whitetail deer, in particular, have a sweet tooth. Peel a banana in front of one and you’d better watch out for your fingers. If you love your bananas and have a deer problem, protect your bananas NOW!
Caging all your bananas is an easier and more common method of preventing the dear from invading your banana garden. Repellants also do the trick, but you have to apply it every month, or after the rains.
However, there are a few reports where deer haven’t touched certain varieties of banana leaves. Some of these varieties include: ‘The Orinoco’, Musella lasiocarpa M.basjoo, M.velutina among a few other varieties.
Deer might ignore your bananas at first since they are not particularly as appealing as other fruits and nuts, but once they get a taste of the sweet bananas, they will keep coming back for more and won’t get enough. They will eventually destroy your bananas.
This is also one of those many deer cases with varying opinions. In some cases, people plant bananas without even protecting them and they are still safe despite the heavy presence of deer. In other cases, the deer will munch a whole field of bananas.
7. Do Deer Eat Hay?
For this question, the simple answer is “Yes”, however, they might not be able to digest it. During the cold season, deer are natural browsers. It, therefore, could be dangerous for them to switch to a diet of hay if it happens suddenly.
For this reason, a deer can starve with a full stomach of hay. According to a master’s degree holder, Ross, who also happens to focus on the feeding of winter deer in the northern New Hampshire: “when people feed hay or grain, winter deer tend to pseudo-gorge themselves on the new food source.
This is a shock to their digestive system and, as the reader says, they don’t have the living bacteria to digest it. People usually feed deer at a time when the snow is deep and there aren’t many other foods available. So the deer fill their stomach on the hay and grain alone and can get sick or even die from it (rumenitis).
You may be asking yourself why this does not happen during those short periods when the snow melts and the deer can now access waste corn and pasture. Well, this is because the deer are no longer feeding on those things only.
With no more snow, the deer also regain access to dead dry leaves, leftover acorns, hardwood browse, etc. They can now build up the required bacteria to digest the hay.
You are advised not feed deer hay during the hard winter months. This is because they are in browsing mode.
8. Do Deer Eat Peaches?
Deer love the peach leaves much more than they do the peaches themselves. They will destroy your young trees. You could try keeping them away from your peach plants by using electric fences when you first plant them.
In most cases, deer eat peaches, but only when become overripe and eventually fall to the ground. And even then, they don’t eat them so much, definitely not one of their favorite. There are very few sightings of deer eating peaches from the trees. They tend to munch the tops of young saplings as well as the tips of the limbs in the spring.
If you are peach orchard owner who loves to keep their garden mowed and fertilized, you will realize that this will create a lot of browse from the deer.
It is perfectly clear from the above answers that, as much as deer love sweet fruits and nuts, they will clear virtually anything on your farm if they have to. If you are growing any kind of fruit or nut, be sure to take preventive measures early enough as you could become the latest victim of deer invasion.
You are also free to leave your comment below in case of additional contributions as well as questions.
Some this preventive measures include:
- Caging young plants
- Using deterrents such as perennial herbs and human hair, however, be sure to test the repellent on a small part of your plant before using it.