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If you’re looking to attract deer to your property, there are several plants that are known to be particularly attractive to these animals. Here’s a list of 15 plants that can help draw deer
1. White Clover (Trifolium Repens)
This perennial plant is a staple in many deer diets due to its abundance in high-protein leaves. White clover is particularly effective in attracting deer because it’s hardy, easy to grow, and can be found in a variety of habitats ranging from woodland clearings to grassy fields. Its white flowers are not only attractive to deer but also beneficial for pollinators like bees. As a low-growing plant, it’s often used in deer food plots and can reseed itself, providing a long-lasting food source.
2. Alfalfa (Medicago Sativa)
Known for its rich green foliage and purple flowers, alfalfa is a high-protein feed that deer prefer, especially in the early growth stages when the leaves are most tender. This legume is typically grown in fields and requires well-drained, fertile soil to thrive. Alfalfa stands can last several years, making it a reliable attractant for deer populations. It’s often used by hunters and wildlife enthusiasts to create a natural gathering place for deer.
3. Soybeans (Glycine Max)
As a versatile and nutritious crop, soybeans are a favorite among deer, particularly in the late summer and fall when the plants are mature and the beans are plentiful. The foliage provides a good source of protein, and the beans offer fats and carbohydrates essential for deer, especially as they bulk up for winter. Soybeans can be grown in various soil types but prefer warmer climates and well-drained soils to reach their full potential.
4. Field Corn (Zea Mays)
While not the most nutritious option for deer, field corn is nonetheless a popular choice due to its sweetness and ease of growth. Deer are attracted to the kernels, which provide a high-energy food source. Corn is typically planted in rows and can grow in a range of soil types, although it does best in well-fertilized and moist soils. Hunters often use standing corn or scattered cobs to attract deer to their area.
5. Chicory (Cichorium Intybus)
Chicory is a perennial herb that deer seek out for its high nutritional value. It has a deep taproot, which allows it to access nutrients and water in drier soils, making it a resilient choice for a food plot. The plant produces bright blue flowers that can add a splash of color to the landscape. Chicory is often planted with other forages like clover to provide a diverse buffet for deer throughout the year.
6. Turnips (Brassica Rapa)
Turnips are a dual-purpose plant, providing leafy greens and nutrient-rich bulbs that deer enjoy. They are especially favored after the first frost, which sweetens the bulbs. Turnips can be grown in a variety of soils, though they prefer those that are well-drained, and they are relatively easy to establish in a food plot.
7. Apple Trees (Malus Domestica)
Apple trees not only provide beautiful blossoms in the spring but also bear fruit that is highly attractive to deer. Orchards or even a few trees can become a hotspot for deer activity. While apple trees require some maintenance and are a longer-term investment, the payoff is a consistent and nutritious food source for wildlife.
8. Oaks and Acorns (Quercus Spp.)
Oak trees are one of the most beneficial hardwoods for attracting deer due to the acorns they drop in the fall. Different species of oaks drop acorns at various times, providing a staggered food supply. Oak trees prefer well-drained soils and can be a centerpiece in a landscape that supports a diverse wildlife habitat.
9. Chestnut Trees (Castanea Spp.)
Chestnut trees produce nuts that are sweeter and more palatable to deer than acorns. They are also high in carbohydrates and proteins. Chestnuts used to be a major part of the eastern forests’ ecosystem before the chestnut blight; however, blight-resistant varieties are now available and can be planted to attract deer.
10. Sunflowers (Helianthus Annuus)
Sunflowers can draw in deer with their large, seed-filled heads. These annuals are not only striking in appearance but also provide a high-calorie food source once the flowers have matured. Sunflowers are easy to grow and do best in full sun with well-drained soil.
11. Winter Wheat (Triticum Aestivum)
Winter wheat offers a green food source when most other vegetation is dormant. It can be planted in the fall and will provide forage throughout the winter and into the spring. This crop is adaptive to a range of soils and conditions, making it a practical choice for food plots.
12. Wild Berries (Various Species)
Raspberry, blackberry, and blueberry bushes are native to many areas and produce fruit that is highly attractive to deer. In addition to providing food, these shrubs offer cover. They generally prefer acidic soils and can be found in the wild or planted in a managed landscape.
13. Peanuts (Arachis Hypogaea)
Peanuts, while not commonly thought of as deer food, are a high-fat and protein-rich crop that deer will dig for. They grow best in sandy, well-drained soils and require a long, warm growing season.
14. Sweet Potatoes (Ipomoea Batatas)
Sweet potato vines provide lush foliage for deer to feed on, and they will also dig up and eat the tubers. These plants thrive in warm climates with well-drained soils and need ample sun exposure.
15. Garden Vegetables (Various Species)
A variety of garden vegetables such as carrots, peas, beans, and squash can attract deer. These tend to be more of a treat due to the work involved in growing them, but they can be a great supplemental food source. Planting a small, dedicated plot with a mix of vegetables can be very effective.