Whitetail Deer: Food and Water

It is critical that deer habitat provides a good food supply throughout the year. Quality and abundance of fall and winter food items are critical because they determine physical and reproductive conditions. Whitetail deer selectively sample most plant species in their home range but relatively few species make up the bulk of their diet. Cultivated crops such as corn and soybeans, provide 78 percent of the annual diet of deer in Iowa. These crops are utilized early during the growing season and again from October to April. A large portion of this fall and winter use is limited to agricultural residue remaining in fields after harvest. This is tje reason that Wishes For Wildlife Foundation members “corn” the dams. During the spring and summer months, 600 pounds of corn is purchased each week. This number doubles during the fall and winter months.

Woody browse such as buckbrush, oak and sumac provides 13 percent of the diet and is utilized in the summer and fall and during periods of heavy snowfall in the winter. Wishes For Wildlife Foundation has many of these trees and bushes on its properties. We also plant sapling Saw Tooth Oak for the next generation of deer. Various forbs make up five percent of the diet and are utilized heavily in the spring and summer along with grass.

Deer will use free water daily, if available, but can subsist a long time on water provided by succulent food items.Wishes For Wildlife Foundation has 3 ponds on its properties for the use of its wildlife.