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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We talk food plots in here so much that many hunters, myself included, get lost as to what natural forage is preferred by whitetails. Of course, this must feed the deer for 12 months of the year. What non-food plot plants offer deer nutrients? Of course some are better than others. Best = #1, 2nd Best = #2, 3rd Best = #3, Starvation = #4. Are you talking about aspen twigs, buds, etc. apple twigs, bud, or fruit? etc.

A compilation of what we learn can be put together.

Woody Browse, Shrubs:
dogwood (gray, silky, red osier, roundleafed)
roses
brambles (all raspberry and blackberry shrubs)
Some willows
Bristly greenbriar
Honeysuckles
Viburnums (nannyberry, highbush cranberry, arrow wood, mapleleaf viburnum, others)
ground hemlock (becoming extirpated in Michigan due to deer preference)
sumac


Woody browse, trees:
apple (gotta be #1)
ash
soft (silver, red) maple; I've heard they browse sugar maple too, but I've
never seen evidence of it
oaks (I think they esp. like young red oaks)
hawthorne (they esp. like to browse the leaves in the summer)
White Cedar
Young White Pine

Forbs:
ragweed
wintercress
goldenrod (or so I hear)
Dandelions
Lots of wildflower blooms
Many others


Soft Mast:
apples, persimmons, crabapples, hawthorne, gooseberries, all raspberries/blackberries, black cherry, mountain ash, acorns, plenty of others
 

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it seems to me, with the huge vacancy signs up on most everyone's food plots this year - and - that there was/is a bumper crop of acorns - that - acrons must be number one on the whiterail's menu -

ferg....
 

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Say My Name.
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A guy that used to post here, Huntnut, actually published a book which catalogued foods that deer eat in this region of the country.

I'm going to wing, off the top of my head, a short list of non-crop, non foodplot foods that deer readily consume; it is not in order of preference.

Woody Browse, Shrubs:
dogwood (gray, silky, red osier, roundleafed)
roses
brambles (all raspberry and blackberry shrubs)
Some willows
Bristly greenbriar
Honeysuckles
Viburnums (nannyberry, highbush cranberry, arrow wood, mapleleaf viburnum, others)
ground hemlock (becoming extirpated in Michigan due to deer preference)
sumac


Woody browse, trees:
apple (gotta be #1)
ash
soft (silver, red) maple; I've heard they browse sugar maple too, but I've
never seen evidence of it
oaks (I think they esp. like young red oaks)
hawthorne (they esp. like to browse the leaves in the summer)
White Cedar
Young White Pine
Aspen buds

Forbs:
ragweed
wintercress
goldenrod (or so I hear)
Dandelions
Lots of wildflower blooms
Many others


soft mast:
apples, persimmons, crabapples, hawthorne, gooseberries, all raspberries/blackberries, black cherry, mountain ash, acorns, plenty of others
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks Dan! That's a good way to make the list.
 

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farmlegend said:
A guy that used to post here, Huntnut, actually published a book which catalogued foods that deer eat in this region of the country.
dan, i dont believe he actually published the book but he should. lots of great info in it. luckily i have a copy and use it all the time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
wild bill said:
dan, i dont believe he actually published the book but he should. lots of great info in it. luckily i have a copy and use it all the time.
Are there copies available?

I could see the need for such a text w/identifying photos.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
rbrennan26 said:
What about Aspen (Poplar) shoots/buds from saplings?
Opps! I had that in my initial list, but after FL posted his longer list I used it and didn't notice that aspen buds were missing.
 

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rbrennan26 said:
What about Aspen (Poplar) shoots/buds from saplings?
From what I've read, aspen will be consumed by deer, however, isn't a preferred food source. It actually falls further down the list. More preferred are things such as ash and maple.

As to the previous list provided, deer actually do eat goldenrod leaves. I spend a lot of time throughout the summer and fall watching deer that go into my foodplots. They will always browse on goldenrod leaves (among countless other plants) before entering the plot. In fact, by early fall, nearly every leaf is eaten off all golden rods.

I've also posted before that if your property is lucky enough to grow wild basil on your property you will find that deer absolutely love the stuff.

One of the best natural browses available has to be raspberry bushes. Deer love the leaves in the summer/fall and then consume the actual stems during the winter. I am curious to find out where the raspberry stems rank in quality relative to the standard wood browse. Anybody ever hear anything on this?
 

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If you are lucky enough to have some low ground (flood plains) with giant ragweed, you will have a deer paradise. I highly recomend you do not plant it. It grows to ten feet tall and is very invasive. Riverman
 

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Good lists, just wanted to add that some of the items on the lists maybe purchased from you county conservation district during their annual/semi-annual tree sale. Not all counties have the same selection, but some counties have a pretty diverse selection and some of the items listed. I actually get the tree flier from Kent Co and Barry Co, I live in Kent, but Barry has a better selection and better prices. Check with your county and the surrounding counties, it's tough to beat county conservation district pricing.
 

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I'm not sure you can even purchase wild rose anymore in MI, but deer love it and it provides great thermal cover. Just be prepared to cut yourself and your $200 hunting outfit to shreds if you have to drag a deer out of a wild rose thicket!!! Riverman
 

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dcgreil said:
From what I've read, aspen will be consumed by deer, however, isn't a preferred food source.
Probably a function of deer density and the availablity of other, more preferred foods.

In winter '97, I clearcut 2a. of mature bigtooth aspen. Over the next couple years(before the suckers grew too tall to be deer food), the amount of browse evidence of young aspen ranged between negligible and none.

Shortly after the trees were felled, there was some browsing of buds on the felled tops, but really not much.

dcgreil, I agree about the raspberry shrubs. FWIW, if you get out there in early spring and broadcast some triple-19 on your raspberry thickets, it will encourage vigorous growth and maybe even give a boost to their palatability. One of the easiest food plots ever.

As to wild rose plants - I don't care if it's the best habitat ever, I don't want to encourage it on my farm. I've seen places where it became out of control, and man, it becomes really nasty for humans to even be there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
One thing to keep in mind with woody browse during the winter months (years of severe winter) that the woody browse if eaten must first be thawed before it can be digested. The thawing process takes heat energy away from the animal, thus making it more suseptable to hypothermia.

Aspen is on the lower end of preferred/beneficial foods and when the ends of aspen stems (I've seen where deer have browsed down to pencil thick stems back in the winters of 77-79 are eaten they must first be thawed. This may weaken the deer more than the energy benefits that are derived from the woody aspen.
 

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farmlegend said:
As to wild rose plants - I don't care if it's the best habitat ever, I don't want to encourage it on my farm. I've seen places where it became out of control, and man, it becomes really nasty for humans to even be there.
And that is why I do believe you cannot even purchase it anymore in MI. The Conservation Districts use to encourage it use for habitat cover until they realized how invasive it was. It is shallow rooted and can easily be cleared with a front mounted bucket if having too nasty a place for deer on your farm isn't what you want!!! Riverman
 

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Whit1
"Are there copies available?'

Gosh, I wish I would have seen this post sooner.

Hi everyone...how have you been? I havent been around much... I moved to Alaska early last year, presently Im back in Michigan for a couple months. I spent the last year guiding for salmon and halibut, bear hunting, moose hunting, blacktail deer hunting etc. (and u old timers that remember me...we have mandatory antler restrictions on moose up there. Must be minimum 50" spread...:lol: )

I gotta say, sometimes I miss the days of my old boring office job, wasting the work hours away posting deer shtuff on ms.com. I sure did learn alot :D Here's to the old school people that made deer debate fun....Farm Legend, Jamie7117, BobS, [email protected], Neal, Tim Baker, Serial Fish Killer, bwiltse, Trout, Marty, Beagle, Benelli, Wild Bill, Polar Bear, Jimbos, Beer and Nuts.
It wuz fun wasnt it?? Hey they shut the QDM forum down twice because of us! Ah hell we were just havin a good time talkin bout deer.

Hows the GDKC doing??? :16suspect

Whit,

I'll dig up my cd of that manual I wrote up, and host it somewhere for you to download (you'll need Microsoft Word). Once you download it, you can print it out on your home pc if you want.
Never published it....too much text for the field manual I originally wanted to create....and with digital cameras available, I wanted real pics instead of illustrations.

As soon as I find it, Ill post a link on this thread for you guys.

Take care....and try to let sparky live to see next year!!

Hunt
 

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Huntnut said:
Hows the GDKC doing??? :16suspect
you didnt just say that did you??? btw i just got my membership renewal form for the GDKC in the mail yesterday.:lol:
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Hunt,
It's great to see you again!

My, you are having some adventures aren't you!!!

Can you email me a copy of the forage stuff. It should make for some interesting reading.

I'll PM you my email addy!

Yes, we've made some changes in the deer forums as you see. They seem to be working well, after some "alterations".

Some of those old members that you mention in the same breath as the QDM Forum give me the shivers..........:lol:.

For the past several years all that's talked about in regard to deer foodstuff is planted crops. I really believe that far too many of today's hunters don't know anything about the forbs and browse that are found naturally. I was writing an article on scouting last fall, mentioning, of course, that finding food sources are a key. It came to mind that for most hunters today, "food source" meant a planted crop. Hell, deer have to eat, crops or no crops and I don't think a lot of hunters know what those sources are if they aren't crops.
 

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Another reason I believe it's useful for hunters to know about wild plants that deer eat:

Deer are browsers. It is an integral part of how they have evolved as a creature, and their desire to browse is, as far as I'm concerned, built into their DNA.

No matter how abundant, diverse, nutritious, and tasty farm crops, food plots, or bait piles are, deer are going to browse on wild, growing plants, period. They will go so far to choose to browse on these plants even to the exclusion of food plots.

At my farm, deer regularly browse upon several of the plants mentioned in this thread. In fact, I can probably identify dozens of native plants on my farm that deer will eat readily in January, while shunning mature Biologic Maximum.

Like farm crops, deer preference for browse fluctuates with the season and with the type of browse. Example - if you get a sudden 20" of snow in December, expect action on those barren raspberry/blackberry canes; I think it's partly due to laziness, as the deer don't have to dig through any snow to get to them. Get a sudden winter thaw and complete snowmelt, and deer will re-discover various ground-clinging green forbs.

Deer use of native plants varies by site, depending on available plants, deer densities, soil fertility, and likely unknowable factors. The plantlife, deer preferences for it, and seasonal shifts in preference differ greatly from one site to another, and hunter/managers are therefore challenged to study browse habits at their own huntgrounds. At my place, owing partly to abundant foods and moderate deer densities, dogwood shrubs (silky, gray, and red osier) barely get nipped at all until March. At another farm I'm familiar with, in another area where deer densities are much higher, the dogwoods get chewed down pretty good by late November.

Hey Huntnut, what do moose browse on in AK?
 

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Whit1, great post. As always, I'm interested in forage/identification info.

Huntnut, I'd sure like to take a look at the info you've got. If you can't find a place to host it, let me know, we'll work something out. And what gives, they got no cameras in AK? Come on, post some pics and stories so we can all dream away at our office jobs!
 
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