If you Want to Kill Bucks, Kill Buckthorn


Whitetail deer eat a wide variety of plants and usually the greater the variety the better. I once hunted the McKenna Ranch in Mississippi where the owner had three large gas lines cross his property. He’d sew each with seven types of seeds to grow a variety of plants that deer loved. As they fed in the open, they rarely stay in one spot, choosing to adopt the smorgasbord approach to forage.

Plant for Cover

Some whitetail deer plantings make excellent bedding and travel cover. Egyptian wheat is a favorite of one Illinois property I’ve hunted. The plants reach a height of six feet and the owner plants the unique wheat strain to cover his approach. The property is designed for hunting and the literal wall of foliage allows hunters to enter and leave blinds in daylight without being seen.

Exotic Plants can Take Control

Often well-meaning conservation official introduce a plant species that may seem to benefit wildlife or agriculture, yet the experiment fails. Kudzu is a textbook example. Whether you are a deer hunter or just a traveler along the interstate highways of the South, you will quickly see how this invasive plant has literally consumed forests. Whitetail deer eat the plant in some areas while not in others. This post from the QDMA network looks a buckthorn, a plant with a whitetail sounding name, yet not a deer friend:


Don’t be fooled by the name: This common tree will not be a valuable addition to your whitetail hunting land. Introduced to the United States for use along roadsides, hedgerows and, yes, in “habitat improvement projects,” common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) has grown out of control. Today, this Eurasian invasion is found in most Mid-South, Midwestern and Northeastern states and Canadian provinces and is replacing native species of value to deer as forage and cover. –


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Joe Byers
Joe Byers has more than 1,000 magazine articles in print and is currently a field editor with Whitetail Journal, Predator Xtreme, Whitetails Unlimited, Crossbow Revolution, and African Hunting Journal magazines. He’s spent the last three decades depicting the thrill of the chase and photographing the majesty of all things wild. Byers is a member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association and numerous other professional and conservation organizations.