Do Deer Eat Hickory Nuts?

Do deer eat hickory nuts? Generally, deer-like nuts, so this question is commonly asked. However, this is not always true with all nuts. Today’s article will discuss the relationship between deer and hickory nuts.

Deer consume hickory nuts at the time of hunger as they only consume edible things. Deers do not prefer hickory nuts when there are available other food sources. This may be because of the hard shell of hickory nuts that requires a great effort to open.

Deer consume a great variety of food. They basically have almost over a hundred food choices from fruit to trees, twigs, herbs, shrubs, and many more. During summertime, deer generally eat fruits, and at the time of autumn, they eat woody browse, twigs, and grasses. Their diet also varies from place to place and season.

What Type of Hickory Nuts Deer Eat 

Generally, deer eat two types of hickory nuts they are –

Do deer eat hickory nuts?

Pignut hickory nut

Pignut hickory nut is such a nut that deer eat when they don’t find acorns nearby. One of the main reasons why deer like to consume pignut hickory nuts among the other types is the feasibility.

This means the pignut shell is not hard and may break easily. However, the shell of the nut is divided into 4 parts.

Shagbark hickory nut

Whitetail deer don’t pick any variety of hickory nuts as they have insight. Although they will continue to eat bitternut or pignut, they will not eat the shagbark hickory nut variety.

Like the peanut nut, Hickory shagbark nuts have the strongest shell. These nuts are native to South America and taste no more bitter than pignut.

However, this means more effort for deer, but they eat this if they don’t have other food sources nearby.

Why Do Deer Consume Hickory Nuts? 

The hickory nut is completely edible, not for animals and deer but humans. Although this nut is completely safe and has no type of health risk, this nut is not a deer’s favorite food source.

They always choose foods that are easily found and easy to consume. The whitetail is full of hickory plants and has a lot of nuts around it, but deer don’t want to spend a lot of time opening their hard shells.

For the convenience of eating nuts inside, deer will prefer thin-shelled hickory nuts like peanuts. Shagbark hickory nuts are a species of hickory nuts with a hard shell, and therefore deer like to avoid it from eating.

However, deer consume hickory nuts for various reasons. Here are some of the reasons why deer eat hickory nuts, in spite of the hard shells of the nut.

Like to eat nuts

Deer’s favourite food is woody textured, hard, and chewy food. This involves all types of nuts, including acorns, pecans, and nuts. It is not a matter that the shell of a hickory nut is easy or hard to open, all the flavours of nuts are nutritious, and deer know their food. Although hickory nuts may not be the first choice of deer, it is the closest of their best-loved peanut as well.

For filled their stomach

The primary purpose of consuming anything with hickory nuts is to fill up the stomach of deer. To satisfy their hunger, they love to eat hickory nuts like squirrels in the winter or fall.

It is widely available.

The best thing about these hickory nuts is they are found on a large scale of land, especially in the area where you can find whitetail deer. Since we often find them near a hickory tree, deer don’t have to travel far to find food.

Deer get nutritional value.

The hickory nut is very rich in nutrients and energy. It is packed with potassium, magnesium, calcium, proteins, fiber, and other essential minerals; hickory nuts provide everything deer need for good health.

How Do Deer Consume Hickory Nut?

There are many kinds of hickory nuts, each with a different size and shape. However, the primary structure of all types of nuts is a hard shell with a hard nut on the inside. There are also different types of wing seams on the sides. This is how deer consume hickory nuts.

They search for food.

The first thing is to find out the nuts. While roaming freely in search of food, they find many nuts falling to the ground around hickory trees.

Using their teeth

Since deer teeth are not stronger like those of squirrel, rats or mice, they will search for hickory nuts that have thin shells. Once they have found it, they continue to bite on it until the hard shell breaks.

They swallow and intake the nuts.

Then they put the nuts in their mouths and slip the nuts behind their tongues. They first chew the hickory nuts a little before swallowing.

What Type of Nut Deer Prefer to Eat?

The nut is one of the special food sources for deer. Although they like different types of nuts, there are some that they like more than others. Below are several nuts that deer love.


Deers like to eat nuts, but peanuts are one of their favourite things to do. Peanut is not only delicious, but its thin shell takes a few seconds to open. For eating easily, deer like to eat peanuts more than any other nut.


Chestnuts are found mostly in the north and come from regions with abundant deciduous trees. Carbohydrate-rich almonds are a nut that deer will choose over other almond varieties.


Acorn is another popular type of nut. Acorn is the primary food for white-tailed deer when they feel hungry. Compared to corn, acorns can be what deer eat if both are available. It’s not just the flavours that attract deer, and it is full of nutrients that make deer full and healthy.


Pecans belong to a variety of hickory families of trees and are widely grown in Mexico and parts of the southern United States. Deer often eat peanuts when the peanut skin has been peeled. Pecans do not like deer-like other nuts.


Many deer fail to take advantage of the nutritional value of beechnuts, which is beneficial to deer health. These beechnut nuts are full of all the essential fibre, minerals, and proteins that keep the deer’s digestive health healthy.

What Type of Animal Consume Hickory Nuts?

Hickory is available plentiful and comes in a variety of sizes and shapes. While some of them have a hard shell, others are easier to open.

Therefore, the animals who eat hickory nuts are:


The hickory nut is such a type of nut that squirrels love to eat and want to replenish their daily diet. Squirrels eat nuts with or without their shells.


Although foxes rely mainly on meat, they also love many types of nuts like hickory nuts. With their hard teeth, they can open the hard shell without much effort.


Mice have hard teeth that may easily cut the hard shell of hickory nuts. Rodents love nuts more than deer and will pull their shells when they have time.


What animals eat hickory nuts?

Some animals like Red, Grey Flying Squirrels, and  Fox, eastern chipmunks, Rabbits, and Raccoons like hickory nuts. Squirrels like to bury nuts rather than eat. They do this because the Hickories disperse (squirrels can eat nuts the next day if they don’t come).

What is a deer’s favorite nut?

Deer typically like to eat nuts and it was one of their favorite food sources. Including the nuts, they like to eat hickory nuts, pecans, beechnuts, acorns, and others. They like to eat those nuts during early winter or Fall to feel up the required nutrients. That will make them prepare for the harsh winter. 

Conclusive Discussion

Hickory nuts are nuts with a hard shell found in many places of the world. Although this is not a primary source of the deer’s diet, they eat nuts to please their hunger. These hickory nuts are rich in proteins, nutrients, and fiber.

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