Learning Natural foods**Updated 7/15/09**

Thread starter #1
Lots of guys ride through the woods,and figure there ain't nothing here to hunt over.No reason for deer/hogs or any other life to be here.I'm going to set up a series of threads showing what I look for and where.I'm going to teach you that by knowing what food sources you can find in the woods,in certain areas...That you will be able to start picking off similar areas,and know what food sources to look for.

For instance everyone knows there are oak trees in the swamp.I hunt the hill alot,and there are certain food sources that are as common on the hill as oaks are in the swamps.When you start figuring out what foods to look for,where,how,what time of year they become consumable for the animals,then you can figure out where deer will be at certain times of the year and why.You can eliminate ground,and find productive ground..Lots of tracks in the area and you don't know why?Maybe some of these can be the clue.

Things are ever changing in the woods.This is how I have figured where they are,why they are there,and where they will be in the future.Learning to hunt natural foods can take your hunting to another level.It may be that missing link.If I help one person then I have done what I accomplished.

I'm going to show what food sources I found in a 5 minute scouting session.I do alot of speed scouting.I hunt WMA's that alot of times I don't get a chance to scout.I have 2 or 3 days to hunt these WMA's,and I have to know what to look for,where to look for it,and eliminate ground as quickly as possible as well.Over time you will be able to identify food sources quick,and easy.

I first went to an open pine flat,and this is what I found...Doesn't look like much..


First thing I noticed was this..

Item 1-





Sitting right by it was a pile of these..
Item 2-





Well I spun around and here this was...

Item 3-





Looking at a nearby tree I noticed this..

Item 4-







This was right above that...

Item 5-



And ton of these all over the ground..

Item 6-



In 5 minutes I found 6 food sources that would support wildlife from today to the close of deer season.Any guesses what the 6 items were,and when they would be available as a food source?

Obviously this area will hold deer all through hunting season,pressure will play a factor on how productive the spot will be before hunters push the game into deeper cover...So the next thing to do is start looking for tracks,sign,bedding areas,and how to approach potential stand locations without being seen/heard,and with certain wind directions.Also how to hide the truck,as not to give away my spot..lol
 
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Swamprat

Senior Member
OK...smilax and palmetto berries, grapes I understand as well which I think are gallberries but I have never seen deer eat blueberries. I have a neighbor right down the road who has around 300 blueberry plants for production and he has never had a problem with deer.

We have alot of deer in our area and the few times I have seen deer in his orchard they were eating pusley weed or other weeds present including green briar (smilax) but not the blueberries

At my lease we have tons of wild blueberries but have neer seen a deer feeding on them. Nor have I seen them eat blackberries.

Great post though and a interesting topic that I am sure will help out other hunters.
 
Thread starter #3
Not only deer benefit from these food sources,other animals do as well.My friend LG has a ton of blueberry bushes at his house,and on some other land,and they stay in his blueberries year around.I am sure deer and other animals will have these foods placed higher or lower on their list of prefrences.If there is something even better than blueberries,then that's what they will eat.All of these photo's are wild.

Item #1 is wild ground blueberries.
http://www.sfrc.ufl.edu/4h/Ground_blueberry/groublue.htm

I am going to even show pics of coyote scat with those little low brush blueberries in them.;) May take the weekend to go find that scat again...lol.I'll come back and ID them all when a few more people guess...lol..You did pretty good
 

Swamprat

Senior Member
Not only deer benefit from these food sources,other animals do as well.My friend LG has a ton of blueberry bushes at his house,and on some other land,and they stay in his blueberries year around.I am sure deer and other animals will have these foods placed higher or lower on their list of prefrences.If there is something even better than blueberries,then that's what they will eat.All of these photo's are wild.

Item #1 is wild ground blueberries.
http://www.sfrc.ufl.edu/4h/Ground_blueberry/groublue.htm

I am going to even show pics of coyote scat with those little low brush blueberries in them.;) May take the weekend to go find that scat again...lol.I'll come back and ID them all when a few more people guess...lol..You did pretty good
I am a land surveyor as well as a hunter so I have seen pretty much all of it.

I'll take you word on the blueberries but in my area the deer don't touch them.

You go to Central Florida and you will find bear scat that is loaded up with palmetto berries as well as the hogs.

Coyotes wil eat anything so it isn't suprising to find them in their scat.

Like I said great topic and should help all hunters whether public or private land.

I can't wait til we get to the persimmons, acorns, and honeysuckle portion.
 
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Thread starter #5
I'll agree.The benefit of knowing what you have in an area,can help when certain food sources deplinish.Gallberries are bottom of the list for deer,but they will feed on them heavily in late season when no acorns are left,and when fresh growth is slim.{Atleast around here}

Deer are browsers by nature,and they tend to spend more time browsing fresh green growth than they do on anything else.Thanks for the input,and maybe more people will kick in too.
 

Swamprat

Senior Member
Plp

it is amazing that in our area even with alot of ag crops close to travel distance for deer they spend a good time grazing thru on gallberries picking off the new growth.

Same applies for greenbriar...they go thru and nip the tops off like a rabbit.

Something else for al hunters to consider even though it is a short lived food source is mushrooms. In areas of planted pines after a good rain or two they will pop out left and right and deer wil go out of their way to nibble on them.

All hunters must realize that deer are grazers and for their digestive tract to work properly they will feed on several things in season. You can have a ton of acorns and the deer will feed on them heavily at times but you wil also find alot of other browse mixed in if you cut open their stomach.

Just like fishing...cut open their stomach to get an idea of what they are feeding on at different times of the year.

Sorry to steal your thunder PLP, even though I hunt private land I still value the food source. Growing up though in public land hunting I still remember watching deer move maybe 40 yards in an hour as they were gorging on palmetto berries.

I do hope more will chime in and ask questions or give advice...Mother Nature provides the best food plot if you know how and when to utilize it.
 

wack em

Senior Member
Item two is quite tasty! I would have had to take a few of those for myself.
 

00Beau

Senior Member
What are the big leaved looking bushes that get purple looking berries on them? Deer wear them out on my property and they really come up good after a burn.
 

Swamprat

Senior Member
What are the big leaved looking bushes that get purple looking berries on them? Deer wear them out on my property and they really come up good after a burn.
If you are talking about leaves maybe 4-6 inches wide and 10 or so inches long with a single stalk that kinda looks like rhubarb and grows around 6 foot tall then it is probably poke berry.

Deer will mow them down for some reason.
 

Buck Trax

Senior Member
This is a great post! I commend y'all for helping out others in their quest for better woodsmanship. Swamp Rat and PLP I have to disagree with both of you on one detail though. Deer are neither grazers nor browsers. Although many wildlife biologists referred to deer as grazers in the early days of game management and then browsers later on, we came to realize that they are actually concentrate selectors. Deer have the uncanny ability to not only select the most nutritious plants, but the most nutritious parts of the most nutritious plants. This is why you see them doing things like snipping the ends of smilax shoots off and foraging on mushrooms right after rains. On a side note, mushrooms are concentrated sources of phosphorous which is typically found only in small amounts in the deer's diet and is very important to skeletal and antler growth. But back to the main topic, the fact that deer are concentrate selectors explains why they eat only certain parts of plants and eat them at certain times of the year when those plants are highest in the particular type of nutrient the deer requires during that particular season.
 

Swamprat

Senior Member
Buck Trax

I understand what you are saying.

Not speaking for PLP but when I say browser it is to mean the best of several food sources available. Does not matter if the prefered food source is available they wil still browse on alternative forage as well. I have never ever seen in a deers stomach just acorns even though it will be the preferred food source at that time. You will also find grasses, greenbriar, etc as well.

Deer will not forfit other food sources as they move along going to their main food source as the season dictates. Even with acorns dropping I have seen them feed on honeysuckle, green briar, and gallberries at the same time within 20- 30 yards of the preferred oak.

Browsing to me is moving along and eating the best as you travel....probably the same but different as you call it. Deer are browsers in the sense they travel and not gorge on one food source but several.
 

Swamprat

Senior Member
Other food sources

If you are a swamp hunter also pay attention to pond or water plants that grow in submerged water. Deer wil feed on these as well just like you have seen videos of moose with there head buried under the water.

Not sure of how much they utilize them nor can really identify what is the best aquatic plant but have seen several deer eating underwater vegetation. To me it looks like mostly coon grass and maybe young stalks of hyacinth.
 

Buck Trax

Senior Member
I understand what you are saying.

Not speaking for PLP but when I say browser it is to mean the best of several food sources available. Does not matter if the prefered food source is available they wil still browse on alternative forage as well. I have never ever seen in a deers stomach just acorns even though it will be the preferred food source at that time. You will also find grasses, greenbriar, etc as well.

Deer will not forfit other food sources as they move along going to their main food source as the season dictates. Even with acorns dropping I have seen them feed on honeysuckle, green briar, and gallberries at the same time within 20- 30 yards of the preferred oak.

Browsing to me is moving along and eating the best as you travel....probably the same but different as you call it. Deer are browsers in the sense they travel and not gorge on one food source but several.
I understand what you're saying and agree with it. I just wanted to help add in some more knowledge. "Browse" actually refers to woody plants and parts of those plants. "Grazing" refers to eating grasses. I know it's a semantics issue, but I just like to help further everyone's knowledge a bit. So, I would say deer are concentrate selectors in the sense that they travel and select the most nutritious parts of palatable plants they pass as they go. Again, I agree with you and I'm not talking down, just elaborating.
 
Thread starter #16
When I say browser I mean they like a wide variety of foods,as they mosey along.They are not generally ones who sit in one place and gorge themselves,but they will do it on occasion if it is something they really like(soybeans),or if it is in short demand.It is the reason they are creatures of the edge.Meaning they like two or more types of terrain where they travel.The goal is to stuff as much as they can down,and as wide of a variety as they can and do it in the shortest amount of time.I still stick to my statement that they eat mostly green forage,even when acorns are in great supply.

Yes I agree..they prefer the fresh tender green new growth,rather than the entire bush.As the vine hardens it loses appeal.They are very selective feeders,when food is in good supply.

300 short mag if not pokeberry,could it be beauty berries?Hard to know without a pic.

http://www.sfrc.ufl.edu/4h/Beautyberry/beautybe.htm

OK ..Item #2 is what we call gooseberry,deerberry,There may be a different term..It is a summer food that will become availabe in early to mid une,and play out in late july.It is the #1-mid summer foodsource for all animals.Turkeys,squirrels,coons,possums,deer,hogs,coyotes...It is as attractive as acorns are in the fall.It goes from green to powder blue to a deep purple/blue when ripe.

http://www.sfrc.ufl.edu/4h/Deerberry/deerberr.htm
 
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Thread starter #17
PS I found a new food source today for yotes.I knew coons ate them..Crawfish...lol..As the water drops in the swamp they crawfish holes are exposed,and they are digging them up and having a field day..
 
Thread starter #20
very good post.thanks a lot.:pop: whats next?
Not done yet...lo...

Item #3 is palmetto berries they will generally become available in mid august,and pull deer very well up until acorns start hitting the ground.

Item #4 is what we call greenbrier/catbrier.They nibble on fresh growth from it whenever they find it.It also produces fruit that drops in the fall...

Item #5 is muscadines(wild grapes),and around here they usually drop around august up until the first few weeks of bow season.

Item #6 is gallberries,and they are not exactly a favored food,but in late season(Late dec/Early Jan) they will feed on them.

All in all this area will hold game,but this is when you have to figure out that..

first off this area is close to a road

secondly these food items are abundant.

If I were to hunt this area I would find a nearby ti -ti bay,pine thicket,or dense swamp that they could use for bedding cover.I would most likely only hunt this spot in early season before deer become wary,and as soon as palmetto's are putting on good.When the acorns start to drop I would most likely abandon this spot until late season GIVEN there are still deer using the area.Since gallberries are everywhere it is most likely not going to be a deer magnet late season.

So any spot you see like this,you know is generally best early season up until acorns start dropping.This is how I eliminate spots.

Finding spots like this let you know what to look for,when the foods are there
 
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