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Are Ferns on the menu?


Northcountryman

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10 minutes ago, Spysar said:

I disagree. Deer dig them up like crazy this time of year when it gets cold. They might not be the most preferred food, but they definitely do go for them. They don't seem like they're eating the dead fern leaves, but something at the ground level.

And there are many types of ferns, and I don't know which ones they are eating.

I've seen the same thing.  In addition, I've seen both does and bucks seek out some of the ferns I have growing on a gully bank on my property in early November (no snow), even with other sources of browse nearby. 

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Even though others here disagree, I have never once seen deer eat ferns and my Sparta property has three species of ferns. To make matters worse, they form a mono culture and can be difficult to get rid of if you try. 
 

See the comment from Rutgers. I know my forester tries to keep ferns to a minimum in his plans. 

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"A sinking fly is closer to Hell" - Anonymous 

 

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i used to think i had an idea what deer eat by reading and watching deer. after raising fawns watching what the pick and don't pick up close for stuff to browse on, i have literally no idea. it's practically deer dependent. like your 3 yr old kid and chicken nuggets they like something one day and then won't touch it the next. when doing habitat or food plot stuff i figure variety and options are the spice of life for deer.

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16 minutes ago, Bucksnbows said:

Agreed. I have seen deer in areas like Readington (NJ) with more than 100 deer/square mile eat greenbriar and multiflora rose right to the ground and there were zero new growth of the herbaceous, shrub or tree layers due to excessive deer browse. Those deer would eat ferns if they had them. But certainly not a preferred food by any means. 

My area is probably medium density deer population and they do eat multiflora. The fresh young shoots seem to be preferred. 

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5 minutes ago, broomeguy said:

My area is probably medium density deer population and they do eat multiflora. The fresh young shoots seem to be preferred. 

Yes, I see deer eat the tips of multiflora all the time. This particular location had them eating it right down to the ground. But wherever you looked, groups of deer were watching you. The guy that owned it wanted to know what he could plant so he could get to his deer stands without being detected and snorted at. I told him to start by shooting 30 does a year, but he wasn’t interested in shooting any. I simply walked away. Some people just won’t get it. 

"A sinking fly is closer to Hell" - Anonymous 

 

https://www.troutscapes.com

https://nativefishcoalition.org/national-board

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Both places I hunt have something that looks like ferns that the deer absolutely crush once the snow falls. It's tall enough it sticks out of the snow. I watched some doe eating it this past weekend at both places. I should get out Saturday morning, I'll take a picture so someone can identify it.

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10 hours ago, Rusty said:

Yup, they are at the bottom of the list of preferred foods.   But people frequently misinterpret what they think they see.   A deer scratching for acorns in a patch of ferns looks like it’s eating the ferns when it’s not.    

Saw exactly that today in the snowy woods.

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