what to feed deer other than corn

What To Feed Deer Other Than Corn?

Have you ever wondered what to feed deer other than corn? If so, then you are not alone.

Countless individuals feed deer every year for the purpose of attraction and supplementation.

Although corn is the most commonly used as an inexpensive way to feed deer, but there're some other cheap options.

Why Not Corn?

It is no secret that deer love corn. They favor corn above many other feeds, often traveling great distances in order to seek it out.

But if corn is so effective for feeding and attracting deer, then why would you choose to forgo its use?

1) Lack of Nutritional Value:

Lack of Nutritional Value

The reason that the feeding of excessive amounts of corn should be cautioned has to do with its lack of nutritional value.

Deer simply love corn so much that, if given the chance, they will consume large enough quantities to completely satisfy their appetite.

When this occurs and the majority of a deer’s diet is based solely on corn, they lack the advantages that are yielded from a well-rounded diet.

Corn alone does not satisfy the nutritional requirements of deer in the wild.

Corn is typically only 8%-9% protein, which falls far short of the 12%-16% protein that the Texas Department of Fisheries and Wildlife cite as optimum nutritional intake.

2) Acidosis:

deer Acidosis

Via outdoorlife.com

Furthermore, deer that feed strictly on corn can quickly develop Acidosis.

It is a condition that stems from a deer’s overindulgence on low fiber, high carbohydrate food sources.

When this occurs, deer are unable to digest the corn that they have consumed, leading to irregularities in stomach cultures.

This leads to a flood of lactic acid and eventual death by dehydration.

Deer are especially susceptible to Acidosis during the winter months. As bitterly cold weather arrives, food becomes scarce.

When this happens, deer will spend immense amounts of time consuming corn in order to fill their empty stomachs.

What To Feed Deer Other Than Corn?

The list of what a hunter can feed deer other than corn is nearly endless. Deer are known for their hearty appetites and the diverse range of foods that they readily consume.

When food is in short supply, they will consume nearly anything that will sustain their nutritional needs.

Some of which would probably come as a surprise to the average hunter.

This lack of pickiness pertaining to feed often makes deciding what to feed deer less challenging than one might think.

If you consider what a whitetail deer naturally consumes during the course of their day, and attempt to closely mirror this, you will have a recipe to deer feeding success.

The following are valuable options when attempting to decide what to feed deer other than corn.

1) Fruits From Fruit Trees:

Deer absolutely love fresh fruit of nearly any variety. It is a common sight to see deer standing on their hind legs in an attempt to pick fruit from fruit-bearing trees.

Fruit is not only attractive and palatable to deer; it is also nutritious as well. Fruit offers deer a wide range of vitamins and minerals.

However, like corn, fruit should only be considered one portion of a deer’s diet.

Although it can be purchased at virtually any grocery store, this will get expensive in short order.

Instead, attempt to find neighbors who have fruit trees in their yard.

Most people will only consume a small portion of the overall amount of fruit that a tree bears, and will readily allow you to gather the excess.

What Fruits Do Deer Prefer?

Just because deer will consume most fruits, doesn’t mean that some varieties aren't preferred over others.

Some types of fruit tend to be absolute deer magnets, and are highly valuable considerations when feeding deer.


apple tree

If you have ever lived close to an apple tree, you are likely well aware of a deer’s love for apples. Deer will often walk right past fruit of other varieties if apples are present.

One great thing about apples is that they are easy to obtain for free.

With apples being as popular as they are, you often do not have to look very far to locate a neighbor with an apple tree.

Another advantage of the use of apples as feed is that there are numerous varieties, many of which ripen at different times.

This comes as an advantage because you will likely have an apple tree close by that is dropping ripe fruit during most any point of season.



Deer love to consume pears when they are available. This sweet fruit is often cited as being comparable to apples in its appeal to deer.

A wonderful advantage of pears is that they tend to be something new to many resident deer populations.

Since pear trees are not usually as common as apple trees in most areas, they can easily become a favored food source since they will add diversity to a deer’s diet.


​Persimmon tree

Deer tend to go wild over a ripe crop of persimmons, often devouring every last available bite within a matter of days.

If you find a tree full of ripe persimmons, it is best to gather them immediately, as there is only a short window when they are at maximum potential.

Although deer love persimmons, they carry the distinct disadvantage of not being plentiful in many areas. This can make prolonged feeding an issue.


Pro-Tip: If you find that deer in your area are very fond of the fruit that you have been feeding them, consider planting fruit trees on your property.

Although trees can be expensive and take several years to produce, this is a wise investment for the future. You will no longer need to source, gather, and dump out numerous loads of fruit a year.

2) Plant Food Plots:

food plot

Via qdma.com

One extremely effective alternative to feeding deer corn is the planting of food plots. Food plots are a wonderful way of attracting deer, while also supplementing their diet.

Perhaps the greatest thing about food plots is that they are completely customizable in regards to what is planted. Each plant variety offers its own distinct set of advantages.

Food plots used to be thought of as a project solely for those who had equipment at their disposal.

However, in recent years hunting manufacturers have released no-till varieties of nearly any blend of food plot seed imaginable.

These no-till blends can be planted with little more than a rake, handheld seed broadcaster, and a little sweat equity.

These blends can be especially valuable when attempting to position a food plot within a clearing in the woods, or other difficult to reach locations.

Food Plot Varieties That Work

Although an almost endless list of different food plot options exist, some are inherently more attractive and well-rounded than others.

Certain varieties stand out as being higher in yields and consistency.



If you to ask a large number of hunters who plant food plots annually what their preferred seed blend is, the majority will choose clover.

This is simply because it can be easily planted and is a top producer year after year in almost any climate.

Clover is also a perennial blend, meaning that it will return in the spring of each year, without replanting, if proper plot maintenance is seen to.

This produces a long-term plot that saves the effort of yearly planting.



If a high yield of palatable and attractive foliage is what you are after, brassicas are probably your answer.

This leafy plant can produce a mind-blowing amount of food per acre, all at a minimal input of cost and labor.

Brassicas are also hearty in a wide variety of climates. This is of benefit because Brassica plots can be planted nearly anywhere that deer can be found.



Soybeans are a highly attractive and nutritious food source for deer.

The attraction that is yielded from soybeans is so great that they can be used to pattern deer efficiently as they repeatedly return to feed.

There are also several varieties of soybeans that are herbicide-resistant.

This is important because it means that you can easily spray any undesirable plants out of your plot without hurting your beans


Pro-Tip: Put thought into the location and design of your food plots before you plant them.

Although the main objective is to feed, attract, and provide nutrition for your resident deer, having an amazing plot to hunt over is also obtainable.

Plant your food plot in a way that brings deer within bow range for an effective shot opportunity.

3) Pre-Packaged Deer Feeds:

If you step into nearly any sporting goods store, you will notice that the varieties of commercial deer feed are numerous.

Although some of these varieties can be quite pricey, you have to look at their purchase as an investment.

If your plan is to feed deer for any number of purposes, then providing feed specifically engineered for this purpose is wise.

However, it is important to know exactly what you are looking for before entering a sales location.

Without knowing the particulars before making a purchase, you risk spending far more money than is necessary to satisfy your needs.

There are typically two types of commercial deer feed. Knowing the differences between the two is important as a consumer.

Types Of Commercial Deer Feed:

a) Attractants:

deer attractant

Via dickssportinggoods.com

Attractants are formulated for the sole purpose of enticing deer to frequent a location.

These deer attractants usually come in a large number of scents and flavors to maximize their success.

While these attractants can bring deer from some distance, they are usually void of any real nutritional value.

The idea with these products is not to grow bigger or healthier deer. Attractants are typically the least expensive of the two types of commercial deer feed.

b) Supplements:

deer supplement

Via turnersfeedandseed.com

Supplements are created with the intention of supplying deer with a balanced nutritional diet that exceeds what they typically receive in its absence.

While these feeds do feature some level of attraction to facilitate use, it is not their only objective.

Deer that are regularly fed supplemental feed, have the potential to grow to a larger size than what would have otherwise been the case.

These varieties of feed tend to be substantially more expensive than attractants.

Why Does This Matter?

Without proper knowledge of what sits before you on the store shelf, you cannot make an informed decision.

If you intend to use a type of feed to pattern or lure in a deer for a one-week hunt, there would be no need to purchase the higher dollar supplemental feed.

Only feeding such a feed for one week, deer would likely not have had a chance to benefit from its nutrition.

Likewise, those without any prior knowledge might purchase an attractant assuming that it will help grow bigger and healthier deer.

In reality, even if fed regularly, deer will reap no true benefit due to the product’s lack of nutritional value.


Pro-Tip: When using commercial feeds, it is wise to protect the product from moisture. This is best accomplished with the use of a great deer feeder.

Feeders come in many varieties, ranging from large units that can hold massive amounts of feed every time that it is filled, to compact units well suited to remote locations.

Where Best To Feed Corn Alternative?

deer feed

Much like corn itself, alternative forms of feed should be fed in locations that are relatively close to typical deer travel corridors or traditional feeding areas.

These are locations where a deer is likely to quickly discover your feed and begin consuming it.

The quick discovery of your new feed is of benefit because it allows you to determine how the deer react to it.

If deer find the feed unfavorable, but it is placed in a natural area of travel, you can determine this quickly and minimize wasted time.

It is also wise to monitor newly chosen feed with the use of a good trail camera. This allows you to assess the reaction of deer within the area to the new feed.

The length of time that deer stay at your feed site can be used as a good tool for determining their interest.

Feed That Makes A Difference:

Now that you know what to feed deer other than corn, you are better equipped to attract and supplement the deer in your area.

This will allow you to better structure your feeding program by adding diversity. As always, comment or ask any questions that you might have.

Robert Gate

Hi, I’m Robert Gate – an avid hunter and founder of ArcheryTopic.com. I grew up in Texas, USA and learned archery from my dad when I was a child. He gave me a Mathew bow as a gift when I got 12 years old. Read my story!

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