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Can Deer Be Picky Eaters?

Back To "Ask The Biologist?"Why are they not eating the turnips I planted?

QUESTION: Bob, I put in a small plot of winter turnips that are growing very well. The trouble is, the deer are not eating it! Why might this be? - Capt Mac

Can Deer Be Picky Eaters?

ANSWER: What you’re experiencing is not uncommon, and probably not a problem. In fact, I encountered the same behavior with the first food plot I ever built. I had the same questions as you, but then something magical happened.

First, deer sometimes need to learn new foods. If they’re not familiar with turnips or other brassicas, it might take them some time to discover and recognize them as food. 

Second and more importantly, brassicas start out as leafy greens.

They’re starchy and provide little of the type of food deer seek in the fall.

Depending on what else is available in the area for food, the deer might only nibble at the leaves a bit or ignore them altogether.

All that changes when the first hard frost hits.

going dormant for the winter, the plant converts its starches to sugar - the sweet carbs deer crave in the fall. 

Within a week of the first frost, the deer had eaten off most of the brassica leaves in my plot, starting with the fibrous stems. 

By the time the ground had frozen, they were pawing it up and eating the tubers. 

Be patient and the deer will eventually turn up in your plot.

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