I received this question from a reader. I wanted to share it with you because I thought it was a good question – Would deer eat pumpkins? They sure do! This article will tell you all about the nutritional value of pumpkins and if you should feed them to deer. 

Let’s get started…

Do All Deer Love Pumpkins?

Pumpkin is one of those foods that most deer will eat. If you have ever had a deer come up to your garden or feed on your plants, then you know what I am talking about.

read.. will deer consume potatoes?

I found a discussion on the Field&Stream forum, where users shared their experiences, and it looks like most deer like to eat pumpkins.

Do they love them? I am not sure about that – as with all wild animals, deer will feed on the most available food source. So if there are plenty of pumpkins in your area, then chances are good that you will see some deer feeding on them. Or rather see that the pumpkins are gone… 

That is especially true if no other “regular” food sources are around.

read.. do deer eat grapefruit?

Do Pumpkins Attract Deer?

Yes, they do! As mentioned above, deer will take the route of least resistance regarding food. Once they learn that pumpkins are an easily accessible food source – they sure will be attracted to them.

That does not mean that you will see them daily, but it does mean that you will have a steady number of deer visiting your garden/site. 

How to Feed Pumpkins to Deer?

First, check with your local laws! Intentionally feeding big game animals is illegal in many states. (read.. Hunting & Wildlife Regulations)

But let’s assume it’s legal in your area. To make it easier for the deer, break the pumpkin open. Deer will go for the insides first – if food is scarce, they’ll come back and eat the rines, too. 

Do Pumpkins Offer Any Health Benefits to Deer?

Pumpkins are not what you would consider a natural food source for deer. There are no actual “extra” benefits to eating pumpkins for deer. Pumpkins contain various vitamins, minerals, fiber, and carbohydrates – but so does the regular food deer naturally eat. 

read.. Will Deer Eat Molasses?

Will it harm deer to eat pumpkins? No, I don’t think so – It’s simply that they won’t benefit from it either. 

What I said above is valid for deer occasionally munching on a pumpkin. It will be a whole different story if you set up a “real” feeding site. The transition from browsing to feeding deer comes with other challenges. 

“Transition from Browse to Feed Deer receive little nutritional value from a new food source for about two weeks of feeding, since stomach microorganisms must adjust to the diet change. Ironically, while well-intentioned people try to help the deer by feeding, they may be harming them due to the time and energy needed to convert the microorganisms.”

Source: University of Hampshire 

Supplemental Feeding Can Harm Deer! 

You’ll do more harm than good if you constantly provide food. It makes deer more vulnerable to starvation, predation, diseases, and vehicle collisions, among other problems.

The best management strategy to help deer long-term is to let nature take its course. Yes, food plots and trees are a different story. And honestly, I have not seen many pumpkins for deer food plots!

Here are some problems associated with feeding sites:

  • These plants can attract predators and increase the risk of death
  • Diseases can spread easier 
  • Traveling to and from the site may reduce the natural fat reserves 
  • Overbrowsing by larger deer removes food available to fawns.
  • Forest regeneration can be slowed by high concentrations of deer
  • More deer than usual = more car accidents that involve deer

Summary

Do deer eat pumpkins? Yes, they do. The best way to feed them would be by breaking open the pumpkins so that deer can get at the insides.

Is it especially good to feed them pumpkins? No. Besides that, feeding big game animals is illegal in many states. Pumpkins do not offer any extra benefits to deer. Pumpkins are not part of their natural diet.

FAQ

Will Deer Eat Pumpkins?

Yes. Deer will eat pumpkins as they are attracted to the sweet and nutritious flesh, especially during the fall and winter months.

Can Deer Eat Pumpkins?

They sure can. If food is scarce enough, deer will eat about anything

Do Deer Like Pumpkins?

Yes, deer are known to like pumpkins. Deer prefer consuming the inner flesh or “guts” of the pumpkin over the outer shell.

Do Deer Eat Whole Pumpkins?

They prefer the guts rather than the shell.

Is it Safe Feeding Deer Pumpkins?

Raw pumpkins are generally considered safe for deer. You can place them in your food plot or hunting property because deer consume them during the winter, and larger pumpkins can provide sustenance for an extended period.

What are the risks of feeding pumpkins to deer?

Feeding pumpkins to deer may have some negative consequences, such as:

– Attracting predators

– Reducing the natural fat reserves by traveling to and from the site

– Over-browsing by larger deer and removing food available to fawns

– Slowing down forest regeneration by high concentrations of deer

How can I protect my pumpkins from deer?

Fencing: You can build a fence around your pumpkin patch to prevent deer from entering. However, the fence should be high enough and sturdy enough to deter deer from jumping over or breaking through.

Netting: You can cover your pumpkin patch with a tree or bird net to keep deer from nibbling on your pumpkins. The net should be secured to the ground or stakes so that deer cannot lift it or push it aside.

Repellents: You can use chemical or natural repellents to discourage deer from approaching your pumpkin patch. Chemical repellents are sprayed or sprinkled around the patch’s perimeter, but they may need to be reapplied frequently.

Do deer like all types of pumpkins?

Deer are not particularly picky when it comes to the type of pumpkin that they eat. They will eat just about any pumpkin variety. They will eat the vines, leaves, flowers, and fruit.

 

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