Alsheimer: Don’t Forget Natural Deer Foods

By Charles J. Alsheimer

The role of natural habitat is often overlooked by hunters. It shouldn’t be.

Throughout the summer months whitetails consume 6 to 10 pounds of leaves each day from preferred browse species, forbs and agricultural offerings.  In some areas of the whitetail’s range its diet can be made up of over 500 natural foods.


Alsheimer deer and deer hunting

Whitetails will go to great lengths to reach preferred browse. (photo copyright Charles J. Asheimer)

In prime agricultural areas, for instance, a whitetail’s summer diet will still consist of up to 50 percent natural forage. This native deer food or browse, can be easily improved by hunters with a little extra help in the way of added sunlight, less competition from other plants, and even a little fertilizer.

Their ability to utilize such a wide range of food sources is one of the reasons whitetails are adaptable to living in so many different habitats. Whether in remote forests, prairie farmlands, lowland swamps or suburban neighborhoods, whitetails can almost always find the nourishment they require.

I took this photo at the end of June and it illustrates the lengths deer will go to in order to quench their appetite. The photo also illustrates how six-foot-high browse lines are formed in the woods.

 — Charlie




Food plots are one of many ways to complement the natural forage in your hunting area and boost the health of the local deer herd. The Getting Started in Food Plots Value Pack is a great place to begin.

u9012If you’re just getting started in food plots, it can be a daunting task. How do you test for the proper soil? Will you have adequate sunlight? What fertilization, minerals, and pH levels are optimal? If a plant lacks any of these key ingredients, it will not give your potential trophy buck the nutrition that he needs for maximum bone development and antler growth. Learn from the experts in this one-of-a-kind collection.