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April 02, 2020 2 min read

Deer, especially the white-tailed deer, are mostly found in the state of Wisconsin and are included in the state’s official wildlife animals. Hunters have always been interested in learning the feeding behavior of deer. This gives them handy knowledge, to make their hunting or baiting process more successful. This knowledge becomes more useful as the fall hunting season approaches. Deer prefer to live near forests and other agrarian areas such as large farms. These places serve as food and protective covers for them. So, what do deer eat in Wisconsin?

Deer Hunting

Over time, Wisconsin has gained a reputation as the country’s foremost white-tailed deer hunting state. This is due to its substantial herd and its consistent production of some of the largest bucks in the world. Every year, hunters head into the woods of Wisconsin in hopes of bounty harvest. Knowledge of foods that actually attract these deer can contribute largely to the success of their expedition.

Feeding Pattern

Deer are herbivores. Although their feeding patterns or choices may largely depend on the seasons, deer eat plants ranging from tree leaves, herbs, berries, acorns, grasses, white cedars, nuts, fruits, corn and wheat. As herbivores, their four-chambered stomach allows them to readily digest these foods. They hardly ever chew these foods, preferring to cough up these foods and resew as cuds during their resting periods.

Habitat Needs

The White-tailed deer are often termed “all-rounders” due to their ability to survive and thrive in a wide range of habitat. However, the ideal habitat which is suitable for the deer will consist of wooded and open habitat, bringing the ‘edge’ requirement to bear.

Deer dwell in forests because they provide cover and protection from the elements, provides them with options to evade predators, provide travel corridors and most importantly provide food. In the forest, there are oaks which provide acorns critical to fat for winter periods. There are cherries, apples, browse buds, twigs and broadened herbs.

The grassland open habitat provides a high plant diversity for the deer. In southern and central Wisconsin, there are corn and soy beans. Railways, edges of ponds, log landings are some of the other open areas used by deer for their pasture needs.

Their Food Needs

What do deer eat in Wisconsin? A study carried out in southern Wisconsin, found out that deer stomach contained plants from a whipping 51 different plant species during the year. However, the major food types were corn, alfalfa, grasses and edges, and acorns. Although the pecking order of these foods will change with the seasons, these four food types will tend to run the show. Grasses and sedge are more prevalent in the spring, alfalfa and corn leaves in the summer, and kernel corn and acorns will dominate in the fall.

Finally, what do deer eat in Wisconsin? As deer baiting, either for hunting or recreational viewing becomes more popular as fall approaches, hunters are now aware that the list of plants known to be food for deer is extensive, while plants that deer can do without are short.