We’re here to help! Wild Yards is a completely free website that is 100% dedicated to helping you create a wildlife-friendly, sustainable yard. Read more
It can sometimes be tricky to know what foods attract deer the most. Although we know that they are scavengers, they can also easily run past food that we have left out when they are scared or distracted. However, those experienced in attracting deer often turn to wild nuts to try and bring them to their yards – but do deer eat peanuts, for example?
Peanuts are great for attracting deer – with or without their shells. However, peanuts are not the only nuts that deer like to eat, and there are plenty of other choices out there if you want to create your own deer-friendly trail mix. Of course, if you want to deter deer from your garden, it’s important to know what to avoid!
Why feed deer peanuts?
Peanuts are great for deer food plots early in the spring simply because these curious creatures adore munching on them. What’s more, they are nutritious and full of useful protein, giving deer extra energy to dart away from predators.
It may be worth leaving peanuts for deer – or growing them – towards the colder months of the year, too. This is because deer are more likely to need the extra energy and warmth in fall and winter. The same very much applies to us!
Peanuts are also great for deer who need energy top-ups after mating season. Thanks to their rich protein and fat content, they are ideal for deer who need to bulk up.
What’s more, planting peanuts is relatively affordable – and they can help improve the quality of your soil. Worth knowing if you want to grow a wild lawn, for example!
However, it’s safe to say that peanuts alone won’t make a diverse diet for your deer visitors, so offering a wider variety of crunchy snacks makes sense.
What nuts are safe for deer?
Nuts, in general, are pretty safe for deer – there are no specific types that are likely to cause them harm, providing they are organic and likely found in their wild diets.
As with peanuts, all kinds of nuts can be a great source of protein and fats for deer, especially in the winter months when food is scarce, and they have to deal with the cold temperatures.
In the wild, deer commonly eat acorns, hickory nuts, and beechnuts, but they will also happily eat any pecans, almonds, cashews – the list goes on.
However, when preparing nuts for deer, you must avoid salted and spiced varieties. Additional salt and flavorings will never be kind on their diet or digestion, and as mentioned, these nuts won’t be available in the wild. Therefore, look for completely organic nuts – or, grow them from scratch.
If you are interested in attracting more deer to your garden, it would still be wise to feed them nuts in moderation. While deer will never complain about plenty of nutty snacks, too much of the same thing won’t provide a rich source of varied nutrients. Therefore, give them a more varied meal with other nuts, apples, oats, and more.
For attracting deer outright for the first time, however, nuts are great to host at the edge of your yard. If you’re deterring deer, focus on growing ferns and other deer-resistant plants instead – and be sure to check no wild nuts are growing without your knowledge.
What do deer most like to eat?
For the most part, deer are not very picky eaters. They have to be able to consume what they come across in the wild, and as you know, not all areas or even seasons are ideal – so they pretty much make do with what they can find. They are most likely to munch down on high-protein plants, twigs, weeds, etc.
Ultimately, the deer has evolved to seek out protein-rich food that it can easily process – they need the energy to mate and escape from predators at a second’s notice.
What’s more, deer also have pretty sweet teeth – various berries, apples, and nuts are likely to appeal to their palates.
Many wild yard owners and hunters may also use peanut butter to attract deer. Used sparingly, they are likely to lick a smear or two off of your trees – but remember that there are types of peanut butter that contain added sugar and other flavor enhancers. Therefore, be sure only ever to provide your wild visitors with 100% organic treats.
It’s perfectly easy to welcome deer without bait into your yard – and a great start is to start planting, growing or scattering peanuts at the edge of your garden. However, be sure to balance their diets, too – and they will likely want to come back for more.