Do deer eat walnuts?

Author: Jacob Smith
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Are you curious about whether deer eat walnuts? If so, it’s essential to understand that deer share a multifaceted connection with these nuts. In this article, we will delve into the complexities of this relationship.

Do deer eat walnuts

Deer don’t like to eat walnuts as much as they like to eat other nuts. These animals tend to favor other nut varieties over walnuts, resorting to walnuts only when alternative food sources are scarce. Interestingly, some farmers employ walnuts as a means of deer deterrence, but this tactic can prove counterproductive as walnuts may hinder the growth of other crops. Exploring more effective methods for deterring deer is advisable, as they yield twice the success rate.

Deers naturally tend to conserve energy and won’t invest it in cracking and consuming walnuts if more accessible food options are available. As winter approaches and the accessible food supply diminishes, walnuts become a more appealing option for deer.

It’s worth noting that walnuts are not toxic to deer or particularly rich in the nutrients these animals require. Due to the toughness of walnut shells, the energy expended in cracking and consuming them may outweigh the nutritional benefits they provide to deer.

Typically, deer steer clear of plants with unpleasant flavors, strong odors, or toxic properties. In many ways, walnuts exhibit all of these characteristics, rendering them unappealing to deer. Additionally, walnuts are not a part of the deer’s natural dietary preferences.

Do deer eat black walnuts

The only instance I’ve personally witnessed deer consuming black walnuts was in Farmville, Virginia, during the first week of November. They appeared to relish them once the outer husks had turned black and soft, devouring both the husks and the nut itself. It was quite a sight, and I haven’t witnessed such behavior since.

Deer typically refrain from eating black walnuts due to the formidable hardness of their shells. Moreover, black walnuts serve as an effective cover scent against deer and other mammals, owing to the off-putting pungent aroma emitted by their shells. However, deer may nibble on tiny walnut seedlings and sprouts that emerge from stumps. In most cases, once these plants become woody, deer tend to leave mature black walnut trees undisturbed.

On my farm, I have a variety of trees, including black walnuts, shag-bark hickory trees, cherry trees, and oaks, among others. I’ve observed deer clearly enjoying acorns, feasting on locust tree pods, and diligently cracking hickory nuts with their characteristic sideways head movements. Yet, I’ve never seen them partake in black walnuts.

Do deer eat walnut trees

Deer often eat walnut tree leaves, readily feeding on fresh leaves that have fallen to the ground. When they can reach them, deer will even stand on their hind legs to pluck leaves from walnut tree branches.

In my own observations on my property, I’ve noticed deer munching on small walnut seedlings and sprouts that emerge from stumps. However, their interest appears to wane as these plants mature and become woody.

During the winter months, deer resort to devouring leaves, twigs, and sometimes even bark from younger walnut trees. Furthermore, young walnut trees are susceptible to damage when deer rub against their trunks with their bodies or antlers.

Given these behaviors, it is a wise strategy to install netting over your walnut trees and plants as a means of deterring deer from damaging your crops. This approach is especially valuable if your intention is to attract whitetails to your yard rather than repel them.

Final Words

While deer may occasionally consume walnuts, they tend to prefer other food sources unless scarcity pushes them toward walnuts. Deer’s energy conservation tendencies mean they only opt for walnuts when easier options are scarce, particularly during winter.

Although walnuts are not toxic to deer, their tough shells may make them less nutritious due to the energy required for consumption. Overall, the distinct flavors, strong odors, and tough shells of walnuts make them unattractive to deer, who typically favor different nuts and plants.

To protect walnut trees and crops, employing netting as a deterrent can be a smart choice, especially if you aim to coexist with these majestic creatures in your yard.

An expert in deer hunting with 10 years of experience in the field and woods. Certified as a hunter by the State of California. I created Deer Hunting Life as my personal blog to share my experience and tips on deer hunting.