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. 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.
Do Pumpkins Attract Deer?
Yes, they do! As mentioned above, deer will take the route of least resistance when it comes to food. Once they learn that pumpkins are an easily accessible food source – they sure will be attracted by 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 animal 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.
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 that occasionally munch away on a pumpkin. It will be a whole different story if you set up a “real” feeding site. The transition from browse to feed 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.
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
- Over-browsing 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
Do deer eat pumpkins? Yes, they do. The best way to feed them would be by breaking open the pumpkins so that that deer can get at the insides.
Is it especially good to feed them pumpkins? No. Besides that, it is illegal in many states to feed big game animals. Pumpkins do not offer any extra benefits to deer. Pumpkins are not part of their natural diet.