John J. from New Jersey
writes to ask about acorns. "Why is it that deer seem to gobble up white oak
acorns, yet red oak acorns can be found on the ground for months?"
John, this is a most interesting question. The answer lies in the fact that
white oak acorns and red oak acorns are different. Deer eat both, but favor the
white oak acorns because they have less bitter-tasting tannin and thus, are
preferred. But the higher tannin is a benefit to the red oak acorns and to
the deer. Higher tannin means that red oak acorns do not rot on the ground as
quickly as white oak acorns. The fact that they remain viable on the ground for
longer periods of time is a good thing because this means that the deer can
find acorns to eat over a longer period of time.
By the way, red oak acorns also have a higher fat content, which is also a
good thing for deer.
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Dr. Dave writes a weekly column for sportsmansguide.com. If you have a question for Dr. Dave, e-mail your question to Dr. Dave in care of Tom Kacheroski, Manager of Guide Outdoors at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Dave studied deer for 30 years as a wildlife management professor at West Virginia University. In addition he has been a bowhunter for more than 40 years, with deer being his main prey. He's also an outdoor writer and has been with "Bowhunter" magazine for more than 31 years.