Do Deer Eat Pecans? (Everything You Need To Know)

There are a lot of myths out there about what deer do and do not eat. One common question is: do deer eat pecans?

Deer love to eat pecans because of their taste and easy access. While pecans are not a common part of a deer’s diet, they provide vitamins and protein which aid in deer health.

There’s a bit more to learn about deer eating pecans which we’ll cover in today’s guide.  Read on for more info.

Why Do Deer Eat Pecans?

deer eating flowers

Deer love to eat pecans because they like the taste and they fall on the ground, so they’re easy to get at.

Why is this?

Pecans are very sweet and don’t have bitter tannins like acorns do, so deer greatly prefer them.

The same goes for pecan sprouts from stumps and their seedlings.

Deer feed on pecans usually between late August and mid-October before the first freeze.

Once pecans initially freeze and begin to thaw, they’ll start decaying and deer will ignore them.

During winter months, deer may eat the twigs, bark, and leaves off of pecan trees as well.

Additionally, deer will consume a wide variety of foods like pecans based on opportunity.

In fact, some folks specifically choose to grow pecan trees near their food plots to attract deer.

If you’re not convinced, leave some pecans out for deer to eat (or plant a pecan tree), and wait to see what happens!

Do Deer Eat Pecans In The Shell?

Deer crack open the shells of the pecans to get to the tasty nut inside, just like humans do.

Deer will usually steer clear of pecans while the shells are green and wait for them to become brittle and easier to break open.

Do Deer Eat Pecan Trees?

do deer eat pecan trees

Yes.  In addition to eating the pecans, deer love to browse on the leaves, stems, and buds of pecan trees, which can cause quite a bit of damage.

How Do I Keep Deer From Eating My Pecan Trees?


Most people who are asking do deer like pecans are trying to find ways to attract them.

If you’re the opposite and looking to keep deer away, this next section is for you.

Use Bud Caps On Your Pecan Trees

Bud caps are just 4” x 6” pieces of paper folded in half that you staple around the bud and terminal shoot of your pecan tree.

Use about two to three staples on each side of the paper to hold it in place.

Deer will be discouraged from munching on the pecan buds thanks to the bud caps in their way.

You can spray homemade deer repellent or mint spray on these bud caps for an added layer of protection.

There are a few things to keep in mind when you’re protecting pecan trees from hungry deer: their habits, your scent, repellent options, and when you plant them.

Deer will eat nearly anything if they’re hungry enough, so your main goal is making your garden as least inviting to deer as possible.

Check out our guide on how to keep deer from eating plants where we cover 25 quick and easy tips for keeping hungry deer out of your garden.

Will My Pecan Trees Grow Back After Deer Eat Them?

Fortunately most pecan trees can survive light deer browsing, and will grow back to good health in a few years.

Consider using one of the preventative options we outlined above to prevent damage done to them by deer.

Are Pecans Good For Deer?

can deer eat pecans

When deer eat pecans it provides them with a good blend of protein, fat, carbohydrates, and fiber, along with the following vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamins A & E
  • Calcium
  • Zinc
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Phosphorus

These vitamins and minerals provide deer with many benefits.

Deer need calcium for bone, teeth, and antler growth and health as well as other bodily functions like milk production and metabolism.

Potassium is great for deer because it helps maintain good pH balance and aid in proper digestion.

Magnesium is great for antler growth, increasing body weight, and has immune system benefits for deer.

Manganese assists deer in growth, respiration, and reproduction.

A 2007 study showed that zinc can assist in growing larger antler sizes in white-tailed deer.

Phosphorus also aids deer in body and antler growth.

Vitamin E helps to support deer immune function and the integrity of the membranes in deer cells.

Fat-Soluble Vitamins For Deer

Vitamins A, D, E, K, and calcium are fat-soluble, so they can be stored in the deer’s fat and liver to be used later as needed.

This means that vitamin A content from deer eating pecans can be “stored up” for later use, which is highly beneficial.

Water-Soluble Vitamins For Deer

Vitamin C, B Vitamins, niacin, folic acid, and potassium are all water-soluble, which means they cannot be stored, so they must be replaced continually.

So a deer that eats pecans for the potassium content must continue to consume foods that contain these necessary vitamins to stay healthy.

How To Feed Deer Pecans

do whitetail deer eat pecans

There are a few things to keep in mind when feeding deer pecans: the size of the portion, your scent, and how many deer you’re feeding.

Make sure to place the pecans on the ground where they’re visible and can be easily reached by deer.

If you’ve got a pecan tree, the nuts will naturally fall on the ground and the deer will eat them, usually after all other food resources have been depleted.

If deer are not normally around your area in winter, don’t feed them leading up to winter as they will not migrate where and when they should.

This will lead to the deer relying on you as their food source and can result in starvation.

Should I Shell Pecans For Deer To Eat?

Chances are that it’s not worth it for you to spend time specifically shelling pecans for deer.

You could leave your scent on them, plus the deer’s teeth are designed to be able to eat food (or crack shells open) for food that’s best for them.

Don’t Leave Your Scent On Deer Food

Deer have a keen sense of smell that allows them to smell human scent farther than bloodhounds can, and can smell up to six different scents at once.

Deer won’t eat food like pecans if they have a strong human scent on them, so you should take care to minimize your trace.

You can do this by rinsing the pecans and also washing your hands with antimicrobial soap.

Alternatively, you can put a few drops of apple cider vinegar on your hands when handling food you’ll be giving to the deer.

Another easy option is to use gloves when handling pecans for deer to eat.

Consider The Amount Of Deer You’re Feeding

If you have lots of deer in your area, think twice about putting out food continuously for them.

If you bring deer together at the same feeding site, it can increase their risk of contracting chronic wasting disease or other communicable diseases from each other.

Can Deer Eat Pecans? Wrapping Things Up

So, do deer eat pecans?

The answer is yes.

Deer will consume pecans whenever they can because they’re sweet and benefit from the vitamins and minerals found in them.

Have any observations to add to the discussion? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.

Check our our other helpful deer food guides while you’re here:

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