Acorns are #1 around my parts. They hit the beans early before season even starts. Beans have already turned yellow in NE Ohio. They hit the corn late in the season. They also like my Biologic plot after the first frost.
I'm far from an expert, but I would probably say that a deers favorite food is going to vary a lot from place to place and season to season. Acorns are probably the most wide spread and well-known but if there isn't a large crop in this particular year then they won't do you any good. So I'd say that a deer's favorite food is the "best it can find right now." If there is an old apple orchard where you hunt that may be their favorite, etc.
I do know that a lot of people bait with corn so they have to like eating it. Also farmers take a lot of crop damage in their corn from deer. I was driving down the road the other day and saw a buck laying in a bean field, eating I assume (couldn't stop to look).
I read an article last year, forgot the publication but basically they radio tracked several deer to determine their eating habits. The results showed
that when acorns (especially white oak) were on the ground it accounted
for approximately 75% of their diet. Of the whitetails I have harvested
over the last 28 years with a bow, a major portion of those was hunting
near oak trees or travel routes to and from oak trees. My stand Saturday
morning is near some white oaks that have already started to fall.
Around here in Indiana... I think it's mainly corn... Whenever we cut open the stomachs after a successful harvest.. they are always full of corn. No matter what time of the year or how far away the corn may be.
Some other favorites are Persimons, Apples, Acorns, Pears, ect...
Around here it seems like in the early part of the year its beans(before they turn), then they move onto acorns, after they in the late season they seem to move onto whatever acorns are left and the corn left on the ground from harvest.
I'm by no means an expert on their diet, but I have noticed that down here this time of year they go nuts over the corn, when I put some out it's always gone within 12 hours. Around me are just live oaks and water oaks, but when they start dropping the acorns the deer walk right on past my corn, often taking a week or two to eat the same pile. I put some dried oats out for a while one time and was stunned how they went for it, coming back several times a day to check if I put more out.
Growing up on an agricultaril farm in MI - I noticed that deer prefer sugar beets over any other crop. Here in Maine, its apples and acorns. Once the crops are harvested in MI, they always moved to acorns. I've been hunting a six pointer for three years here in Maine and finally (postseason last year) found his feeding hang-out in an apple orchard. Once those apples are gone, they will move to feed on the "acorn ridge". -just my .02 cents worth.
acorns are first and to be more specific. White oak acorns are the sweetest. Red oaks would be second. But in years where the white oaks fail then reds become first. Corn is great in late December here in Missouri. Other than that it depends on the time of year. Whitetails are know to eat 700 different plants so what I like to do is watch them and see what they eat when I get to observe them.
I read in an article about a lady that had a really nice food plot made up, but all the deer were eating the cockaburrs around the edge!!!!!!! Just have to watch and adjust to the time of the year other than then white oak acrons are dropping when they are be by them!!!!!
White Oak acorns as big around as a quarter are #1. After acorns, I would say corn/beans depending on the time of year. Early season beans, after the beans turn from green to yellow and brown, then corn, percimmons would probably fall in next. Of course if you have clover or have planted food plots, they are probably pretty awesome, but I'll take a good white oak tree that has a good crop over 100 acres of food plot. Apples are good too, but most people dont have an apple to tree to hunt.
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