Deer Attraction: How to Rehabilitate Old Apple Trees

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Apple trees can provide a great deal of quality food to whitetails. Reclaiming an abandoned orchard can be a great idea. You will improve the habitat and nutrition of deer on your property. If you live in an area with a lot of deer pressure, an orchard can provide superb cover from hunting pressure.

In addition to apples, many other fruit trees can be used to attract deer. These include pears, cherries, plums, and peaches.

Get Rid of Competitors

If you don’t take care of your apple orchard, other trees have likely taken over. You can get rid of the competitors using directional felling techniques. This involves cutting all the trees except for the apple trees. Make sure to cut them as close to the ground as possible.

When pruning an old apple tree, do not shape its overall architecture. Instead, stimulate vigorous growth and improve fruit production.

Why Pruning your Apple Tree is essential.

Pruning an apple tree is essential for several reasons.

First, it helps to promote growth by stimulating the tree to produce new shoots and leaves.

Second, pruning helps increase fruit production by encouraging the formation of fruit-bearing buds.

Third, pruning helps keep the tree healthy by removing diseased or damaged branches.

Fourth, pruning helps improve the fruit’s quality by allowing more sunlight and air circulation to reach the apples.

Pruning makes the tree more straightforward to manage by shaping it into a more compact form. All of these factors make pruning an essential part of apple tree care.

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How to Prune a Tree

Any gardener will tell you that pruning is essential for tree care. Not only does it help to keep trees healthy and vigorous, but it also helps to control their shape and size. But how do you know when and how to prune your trees? Here are a few essential tips:

First, always wait until the dormant season to prune. This is when trees are least active, and pruning will cause them the least stress.

Second, take a look at the tree’s natural growth pattern before you start pruning. This will help you determine which branches need to be removed to encourage future growth.

Third, use sharp, clean pruning shears to make clean cuts. This will help prevent disease and encourage healing.

Fourth, only remove dead, diseased, or damaged branches. Never remove more than one-fourth of the live branches from a tree in any given year.

When Should You Prune Trees

One of the best times to prune a tree is during the late winter months when the tree is dormant. Dormant trees are not actively growing and thus are less susceptible to stress and damage. Pruning during this time of year also gives you a better opportunity to see the tree’s structure and make more precise cuts.

In addition, dormant pruning can help to stimulate new growth in the spring. However, it is important to avoid pruning if there is a chance that frost or freezing temperatures may occur, as this can damage the tree. Therefore, it is best to wait until late winter or early spring to prune your trees.

Understory Vegetation

Dealing with understory vegetation in the orchard depends on what you want. By mowing regularly, you’ll have easy access to the interior of the orchard for hunting and future maintenance. It will also encourage herbaceous cover, which will provide additional forage to hungry deer.

Dealing With Dead Trees

If a tree is overtopped by competitors for long enough, it may lose the vigor necessary to respond to release. In other words, the tree may become too weak to fight back and reclaim its place in the ecosystem.

Look for dead bark or significant sections of the crown that don’t have live buds. If more than 50 percent of the central crown is dead, the tree is probably too far gone to save.

If you find any of these signs, it’s best to use a sharp tool and cut the branches back to the living bud. This will give the tree a chance to start over and hopefully regenerate itself.

Make sure to clean your tools before and after use to prevent the potential spread of diseases.

Analyze The Soil

Like with food plots, having your soil analyzed can help identify nutrient deficiencies in fruit-bearing trees. By knowing what nutrients are lacking, you can take steps to amend the ground and make it more hospitable for tree growth.

In general, fruit trees need well-drained soil high in organic matter. They also need a balanced supply of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. If your soil test shows that one or more of these nutrients is lacking, you can take steps to correct the problem.


To rehab old apple trees to attract more deer to your orchard, you should prune the trees during the dormant season and remove dead branches. Cut down the understory vegetation and mow regularly to create a clear line of sight and easy access for hunting. Finally, test the soil to ensure the trees are getting the nutrients they need to thrive. By following these steps, you can create an inviting habitat for deer and improve the overall health of your orchard.

I am the founder and chief editor here at BowAddicted. I love my kids, archery, and the outdoors! It's been an amazing journey so far with some ups and downs, but it's worth it to spend time outside with friends and family.

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