Do Deer Like To Eat Acorns?

Yes, whitetail deer love  certain types of acorns because they are high in carbohydrates, healthy fats and other nutrients.  They love white oak acorns the most and prefer them over other less desirable types of acorns like red oak acorns.  

Deer prefer white oak acorns because they have lower levels of tannins compared to red oak acorns which have higher levels that result in them tasting bitter.  However, deer will eat all kinds of acorns due to them being high in carbohydrates, fats, and other nutrients while being low in protein which makes acorns a great food for deer to eat in the fall and help them make it through tough winters.  

Acorns Are A Preferred Food Source For White-Tailed Deer

Acorns are a preferred food source for white-tailed deer, especially during the fall and winter months. Rich in nutrients, acorns provide a significant amount of fats, carbohydrates, protein, and essential minerals for the deer. In fact, 50% of an acorn's calories come from fat, making it a crucial food source as the deer prepare for the winter. Although some acorns contain bitter tannins, deer tend to choose oak species with lower tannin content, like white oaks, making them a perfect meal for these forest-dwelling creatures.  Corn is another food that is lower in protein and high in fats and carbohydrates, making it another food that deer like to eat before winter.  

Acorn Production Can Vary Significantly From Year To Year

Acorn production fluctuates significantly from year to year, depending on factors such as late spring frosts and summer rainfall. This variation can impact the feeding patterns of deer, who rely on acorns as a substantial part of their autumn diet. When acorn counts are high, deer have an abundant food source, making them harder to predict and less reliant on food plots. Hunters must be mindful of these changes in acorn availability to successfully locate and track deer during the hunting season.

Are Acorns A Good Source Of Nutrients For Deer?

Good acorn production plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy, fat deer population. Acorns are a highly preferred food source for whitetail deer in the early fall.  Acorns are low in protein content (7%), but high in carbohydrates (54%) and fats (32%), making them easily digestible and rich in nutrients.   According to Healthline, a 28 gram serving of dried acorns contains 144 calories, 2 grams of protein, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 9 grams of fat, and many other nutrients that are beneficial to deer and other animals.  

As deer consume large quantities of acorns daily in the fall, the intake of this nutritious nut contributes to their overall health and weight. The large amount of carbohydrates and fats help them put on extra weight that helps carry them through tough winters.  In years with abundant acorn production, deer exhibit increased body weight and noticeable layers of fat, indicating a thriving population.  Acorns also provide essential nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and niacin, which contribute to the deer's overall health. 

Scouting For Nuts And Caps On The Ground Can Indicate Deer Are Active In The Area

Scouting for nuts and caps on the ground can be an effective method to identify deer activity in a particular area. During the fall season, deer often rely heavily on acorns as a primary source of food, with these nuts making up around three-quarters of their diet. As a result, the presence of discarded nutshells and caps can be a clear sign that deer have been foraging in the area. By paying attention to these subtle clues, hunters can gain valuable insights into deer behavior and feeding patterns.

Be Mobile and Scout Throughout The Season To Find Feeding Areas

Being mobile and scouting throughout the season is essential in locating feeding areas for deer. As deer are known to change their feeding spots due to varying acorn crops, hunters must continuously scout for suitable locations. Additionally, deer prefer areas with dense cover, so focusing on sections where mature oak meets heavy cover can lead to a higher success rate. By staying alert and adaptable, hunters can maximize their chances of finding deer in acorn-rich areas during the season.

This article was updated on May 20, 2023