Deer love acorns, which are one of their preferred food sources. Whenever they find acorns, they will linger around, happily munching away and filling up in carbohydrates and fats.
There are more than 200 oak tree types in North America. Oak trees are very versatile and will grow in different soil types and climates. Some of them are drought-resistant while others will survive swampy conditions for short periods of time.
When landowners decide to create a wildlife orchard on their land, they are often seduced by the beauty of apple trees, pear trees, persimmons, and plum trees. However, oaks are the fundamental basis on which to create a wildlife orchard.
Besides providing deer with food, oak trees have an extra advantage: they provide a thicket where deer can hide. Deer dislike open spaces where they are exposed. They like hiding in bushes and under trees. Oak trees provide the perfect shelter.
We advise landowners who want to see white-tailed deer linger on their land to plant several types of oak trees. These will give mast crops throughout late summer, the fall, and even early winter.
Follow the tips below to make the best choice of oak trees for your land
What Types of Oak Trees Are There?
Oak trees are generally divided into two main categories, white oaks and red oaks:
- White oaks have more rounded leaves and give acorns that are longer in length but smaller in girth.
- Red oaks have pointy leaf lobes and larger but stubbier acorns. The caps around the acorns tend to be scalier.
When Do Oak Trees Give Acorns?
White oaks give one crop every year while red oaks will give an acorn crop every two years. That’s because it takes 6 months for acorns to mature on white oaks but 18 months on red oaks.
White acorns drop their crop earlier, usually in late August. Red acorns fall after the white ones and last well into winter.
Which Oak Tree Do Deer Prefer?
While deer generally love all oaks, they do have their preferences.
Deer prefer white oaks because they are sweeter and less acidic than red oaks. They also have lower tannins.
Tannins give acorns a bitter aftertaste that deer don’t particularly like. Due to their higher tannin content, red oaks are more bitter to the palate.
What Sort of Nutrients Do Acorns Provide?
Acorns are low in protein but high in carbohydrates and fats. They are also easily digestible.
Specifically, acorns contain 43% carbohydrates, 24% fats, and 6% proteins, with small variations between different oak tree types.
Deer eat acorns right before winter, when there is a lull in their food sources. They build up the fat in the body, which they then utilize during the lean winter months. The built-in fat keeps them going until spring when they can find fresh food sources.
How Do Deer Choose Their Preferred Acorns?
Deer prefer white oaks, which drop their fruit earlier than red oaks. Deer will gather under the oak trees and start eating the acorns they find on the ground or on low-hanging branches.
Only after the white oak crops have been consumed will deer turn to their second-best choice, which is red oaks. Red oak acorns keep deer going well into the winter until new grass shoots and food plots deliver fresh food sources.
Which Oak Trees Should I Choose for My Plot?
Once you have established your hardiness zone, local climate, weather conditions, and soil type, you are ready to pick your oak trees.
We advise our customers to make a mix of oak trees. While we know that white oaks are deer’s preferred food source, you should also plant various red oaks as well. This will provide your deer herd with acorns for longer periods of time. Once deer know that they will find food on your land throughout the year, they will linger there and may settle permanently on your plot.
Which Oak Trees Does Wildtree Have?
We have several oak tree specimens. Landowners can choose from a wide selection that includes:
- The White Oak, the deer favorite. White oak grows well in most parts of the United States, but particularly in central and eastern states. It is drought-resistant but loves sunshine.
- The Swamp Chestnut Oak is another white oak that gives acorns with low tannins and a sweet aftertaste. It grows well in flood plains but also tolerates drought once mature.
- The Bur Oak also belongs to the white oak category with heavy crops. Although they are white oaks, bur oaks do not give such sweet acorns as the white oak and come as a second-best choice for deer. However, the large acorns this tree gives survive on the ground for longer and provide deer with food until early winter.
- The Shumard Oak is a red oak that grows well across most of the United States. It reaches maturity fast, which is great if you are starting a wildlife orchard and don’t want to wait too long to enjoy it.
The Nuttall Oak is another red oak that grows well across the southern and western states. It drops its acorns in November, providing deer with food until early winter.
Shop Online at Wildtree
Wildtree, under the guidance of Dr. James Kroll, aka Dr. Deer, has developed a wide selection of wildlife-preferred trees to start your orchard or enhance your land.
Oak trees, pear trees, plum trees, and apple trees have been carefully chosen for their appeal to wildlife, particularly white-tailed deer. You get a 10% discount on all orders over $1,000.
When you buy at Wildtree, you get expert advice. We want our customers to feel their money is buying something real that will survive through time. We have tried and tested our trees ourselves to ensure they attract wildlife!
Contact Wildtree online, call 346-707-6023, or email us at [email protected] and we will help you choose the best trees for your land. We offer free shipping on all our orders and a 10% discount on orders over $1,000.