Do Deer Eat Pumpkins?

I grow a lot of pumpkins in my garden, and it’s one of my favorite pastimes. I harvest this type of winter squash to gain a steady supply to make sweet-savory dishes. Last Halloween, we had a lot of leftover pumpkins, and I wondered what to do with them. With deer frequenting my backyard, the answer seems not farfetched. While I wasn’t sure at first if the foes and bucks would eat the pumpkins or not, I decided to give it a try. What better way to find out than to perform a little experiment myself? What were the results? Do deer eat pumpkins? Yes, they do.

Do Deer Eat Pumpkins?

The Pumpkin Diet

Deer love to eat pumpkins, which have many edible parts. There are flowers, leaves, seeds, and the squishy part of the rind. The pumpkin guts are what deer love to eat the most. If you want to leave a treat behind and get rid of excess harvest, pop open this winter squash and leave it in the yard. Feeding patterns of deer change with the seasons. Therefore, the taste of pumpkins also transforms as the weather fluctuates.

In the summer, deer are more likely to eat pumpkin leaves. Then, during the fall, the fruits are more enticing and flavorful. After you harvest pumpkins and find that you have extra, feeding them to deer is a great option. Many gardeners and growers don’t know that there are animals that love this form of squash.

Many people throw out leftover pumpkins when they can let deer eat them. You can save on waste by not placing this tasty treat in the trash. If you live in an area with many deer, leave out pumpkins for them to eat in the fall.

How to Feed Pumpkins to Deer?

As mentioned previously, deer love the soft and spongy part of the pumpkins. So, you’ll have to cut open the excess to make them tastier and more nutritious. Leaving the guts out also makes it easier for the deer to access them. Most pumpkins have hard outer shells, and it’s difficult for animals to smash them open. 

Again, you need to find the right spot for the deer to eat the pumpkins on your property. You can dump the excess in areas where you frequently see the animals. Deer may visit your backyard or open space, like a field. Fortunately for me, my home is nearby a forest. So, it wasn’t difficult getting hungry deer to come around. Moreover, I also have an open garden and just had to drop the pumpkins there.

About a week later, I began seeing the presence of deer in my backyard. Within days, my offerings were gone entirely. The pumpkins were all eaten by the deer!

Are Pumpkins Healthy for Deer?

Research shows that pumpkins are healthy fruits for deer. Nutrients include rich fiber content, Vitamin C, and Potassium. These contents help keep deer healthy. The different parts of the pumpkin provide different nutritional values. The guts contain large amounts of fiber, strengthening the bones of deer. The pumpkin seeds are good sources of omega-6 fats. These nutrients help during harsh winters when food is usually scarce.Do Deer Eat Pumpkins?

Finally, do deer eat pumpkins? Yes, the animals actually love this plant which is rich in nutrients. Pumpkins are critical to keeping deer in good health. Now that you know the answer, you may think twice about throwing away your excess harvest. Do you plan on feeding pumpkins to deer? Don’t hesitate to do so.

If you’re looking to repel deer from your pumpkins and need a solution, try Nature’s MACE. Nature’s MACE has deer repellents that work in all seasons and don’t need to be rotated with other repellent methods.

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Nicholas is a partner and co-founder at Nature's MACE. Nicholas received his Bachelor's in Business Administration from Penn State University. His mission is to create and promote natural substitutes for toxic pesticides. He hopes to prevent people, pets, and the environment from being negatively affected by potentially harmful pesticides.


  1. Jeanine on September 19, 2021 at 3:28 pm

    Thank you we live on a couple acres in the middle of nowhere just moved here love it and the deer frequently are in my back yard I don’t have a garden but I started feeding them carrots ,apples grapes mushrooms they loved watermelon going to try pumpkin They are adorable and the .babies omg I don’t approach them but I feed them In the morning and sometimes they are relaxing in the bushes they jump up and leave ,but when my husband turned to walk away these deer were watching I saw out there as soon as he was out of sight they came right back ,anyways I watch them from our kitchen window it’s relaxing anyways thank you for your knowledge

  2. Jan on November 7, 2021 at 3:54 pm

    Does this take into consideration that deer have sensitive specialized stomachs that could be harmed by this change in diet?

  3. Sarah Page on November 4, 2022 at 4:10 pm

    I just came across this article when researching about claims that pumpkins are bad for Mule Deer. Wyoming Game and Fish just came out stating not to throw pumpkins away and not leave them laying around because Mule Deer can’t digest them properly and they lack of nutritional value. I can’t find any other information backing up their claims only information like yours showing that there is a lot of nutrition in pumpkins.

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