Do Deer Eat Apples? Are There Any Risks?

By: Mario

An apple a day will keep the doctor away, but what about deer? Well, believe it or not, deer actually love a good old munch on an apple.

I mean, generally speaking, deer aren’t all that fussy, they tend to take whatever is going.

Or at least what the forest can provide them. That being said though, there does seem to be something about apples that deer just go crazy for. 

Ready to learn more about deer and apples? Come on then! 

Are Apples Healthy For Deer? 

Feeding a deer an apple certainly won’t hurt them and they’ll be thankful for a nice tasty treat.

However, it is important to remember that apples are exactly that…a treat. Think of it like a packet of chips for you or me.

They’re nice, tasty, and won’t hurt us – but we’d still be pretty hungry if that was all we were eating. 

This is especially the case during the winter period. Once the fall says its goodbyes and the trees and bushes are bare, there are no more berries or fruit for the deer to scavenge.

Because of this, their digestive system changes during this season to process the scarcely available food sources such as bark and dry leaves.  

If a deer were then to consume a lot of apples, the pH change could cause issues to their digestive system. This could lead to health problems such as acidosis

Can Deer Eat Apples Whole? 

Pretty impressively, yes, deer can eat an entire apple whole.

I suppose this makes sense, really, since deer definitely don’t have the luxury of utensils such as apple corers or slicers knocking around in the forestry. 

However, it’s not the easiest thing in the world for them to do. They’ll give it their best go, and more often than not, they’ll find a way, but they will struggle. 

So, if you are planning on feeding deer an apple, then you’ll want to try and cut it up slightly for them so that they can have a more pleasurable experience. 

Do Deer Eat Old Or Gone-Off Apples?

As I mentioned earlier, deer really aren’t the fussiest of animals. On a scavenge they’ll inspect and taste near enough anything.

And this goes for apples in all forms too.

They’ll eat green or red apples, they’ll eat nice fresh apples and they’ll also eat those pretty old and rancid-looking ones too.  

In fact, they might actually prefer a slightly older or bruised apple because they tend to be a lot softer and so are easier for them to chew.

However, I think we all know the real reason why deer enjoy an old apple or two.

Did you know that when deer eat fermented old apples it’s the equivalent of you or I doing a couple of shots of vodka? Yep – deer can get drunk from fermented apples!  

Can I Feed Deer Apples From The Store?

Now, you might be thinking, are all apples not the same? If deer can eat apples in the wild they should be fine with store-bought ones too, right?

Not exactly. Apples in the wild are fresh (if they’re not old) and more importantly are organically and naturally grown. 

The issue with the apples in the store is that to keep them nice and fresh for when you take them home, they are grown with preservatives, chemicals, and other harsh substances that aren’t really safe for deer. 

Luckily, it’s not too hard to resolve this problem.

You just need to make sure that you have really washed your apples before you feed them to the deer.

As long as you wash away those harmful chemicals, you’re all good to go. 

How Should I Lay Out A Bag Of Apples For Deer? 

The first thing to know when it comes to laying out apples for deer is that these creatures are very greedy in nature.

Especially the bucks. So you’re going to need to spread your fruit out quite widely. 

If you pile your apples high in one spot, you’ll have one or two bucks come to claim the pile. And they’ll start chomping down and they won’t stop – not even when they’re full.

Once they feel so sick they physically can’t eat anymore they’ll move on but they won’t share. What greedy goblins! 

So if you’re laying out a bag of apples, ensure that you spread them far and wide. I’d go with around a handful of fruit for every square meter. 

Attracting Deer With Apples

Hunters have used apples to lure deer into their desired spots for a pretty long time now.

Sometimes they even slather a bit of peanut butter over the apples because yes, deer love peanut butter too. 

This works quite well for hunters, especially when you consider how above I said that deer will stay and stuff themselves for as long as possible wherever possible. 

However, it’s important to remember that apples won’t only attract deer. Both raccoons and foxes are partial to a good slice of apple too. 

Final Thoughts 

So, yes deer can eat apples. And if they have the access to them in nature, they’ll have a good old much on them regardless of whether they are fresh or not.

However, apples should never be a staple part of a deer’s diet as they don’t have the proficiency to provide all of the essential nutrients that a deer needs to survive. 

Apples should really only be used as either a tasty treat for our wildlife enthusiasts or as bait for the avid hunters amongst us.

And for those hoping to offer more food and sustenance to deer during the more barren winter months should always take caution with fruits during this time.

It’s a very kind-hearted gesture, and I’m sure you’d hate to cause any harm, but their digestive system just isn’t equipped for the pH change.