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View Full Version : Pumpkins as deer food - really?


j-bird
09-26-2011, 05:10 PM
Ok - I have done foodplots for deer for a few years now but I cannot say I have really heard of deer eating pumpkins. I live in a very agricultural area with lots of corn and soybeans and the occasional alfalfa or winter wheat field. I can't get the deer to eat brassica because of the "better" choices available. I plot mostly clover, chic, alfalfa, corn and soybeans. I have plotted AWP, oats, cowpeas, sorghum and brassica as well in the past. You guys seriously plant pumpkins for the deer to eat? Do they eat the plant vine or the pumpkin itself? I have heard that deer will eat anything when hungery enough, but I have never heard of them eating pumpkins before.

standsitter
09-26-2011, 05:23 PM
I heard from a local taxidermist that one of his regular clients told him pumpkins where the secret to his success. Thats why I am checking it out.

biglakeba$$
09-26-2011, 05:35 PM
They do not touch the vine.

They absolutely devour them at our farm.

I have more pics somewhere, but you get the point. They eat them till there isnt a seed left. That second pic is hilarious. Thats a pumpkin I had at home actually. We would watch the deer stick their heads in the hole of the pumpkin. That pumpkin was 75+ lbs.

http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l224/biglakebass/deereatingmypumpkinsatthefarmagain.jpg

http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l224/biglakebass/deerenjoyingmypunkins.jpg

hardwood11
09-26-2011, 05:36 PM
In Minnesota they love pumpkins, they eat everyone I put out, captured it all on game camera. Seem to like pumpkins later in fall

tmoenhunter
09-26-2011, 06:02 PM
They love the pumpkins at my place also... they used to devour the ones in our garden right when they would start to ripen. eat the whole thing. since I've been planting them on the edge of my food plots they leave my garden ones alon and inhale the plot ones:D

Whitetail Jiu-Jitsu
09-26-2011, 07:23 PM
They just started hitting my pumpkins this past week. It is a great alternative to the normal food sources.

wolc123
09-26-2011, 08:11 PM
Ask that local taxidermist if he knows what time of day those bucks are being shot. My guess is it is around 10-45 minutes AFTER legal shooting light. Pumpkins dont provide cover, so not many mountable bucks will use them until AFTER the sun sets, at least not in Upstate NY.

shedhtr82
09-26-2011, 08:11 PM
The guy that farms my uncle's place plants 5 or 6 acres in pumpkins and deer and bear seem to love them. Once he's done picking what he will sell he gathers the rest and dumps them along the tree line and the deer will eat them until they freeze solid.

THOMAS9N
09-26-2011, 08:49 PM
IV'E never heard that before,are the deer starving to death to eat pumkins?

foggy
09-26-2011, 09:07 PM
IV'E never heard that before,are the deer starving to death to eat pumkins?

Nope! I have lots of clover, brassica, soys, rye, acorns and browse available ....and the deer still go for a taste of the pumpkins. This year they hit them earlier than last year. They will clean them up 100%.....if we don't get a few first.

biglakeba$$
09-26-2011, 09:14 PM
I have around 50 pumpkins on the steps for halloween. Anywhere from the size of a tennis ball, up to a 150 lb Atlantic giant last year.

I dump them all behind the house and there isnt a thing left come spring time. I cant even imagine how many hundreds of pounds I dump there. They eat them like hot cakes. must be fun gnawing on the frozen flesh, but they dont seem to mind.

Are these deer starving? Not a chance. I live in a development where probably half the people feed the deer.
At our farm, my pumpkins this year are adjacent to some field corn I planted, and about 50 yds from a large clover plot. They have a trail beaten in the clover going to the pumpkins now.

Its no fluke. Deer love the hell out of pumpkins everywhere I have been in MN. No idea why an Indiana or NY deer wouldnt like them. :)

biglakeba$$
09-26-2011, 09:15 PM
I will say,,,, its very interesting seeing all the MN guys replying to this..... Is this some regional thing?? Interesting.

shedhtr82
09-26-2011, 09:34 PM
Not starving here, this field is beans and pumpkin on the other side of the hollow it corn and alfalfa, plus my little food plots.
http://i1139.photobucket.com/albums/n546/shedhtr/SU1BRzAyOTYuanBn.jpg

crimedog389
09-26-2011, 09:39 PM
Wow shed that's a beautifu place..I've really never seen the deer eat pumpkins around here but I have seen them eat watermelons the exact same way..We use to find them in the fields where the deer would use thier hooves to stomp a hole and clean out the insides..

shedhtr82
09-26-2011, 09:44 PM
I've watched deer bed in the pumpkins during the summer, when the vines are 3-4' high and leaves are full, then get up and feed in the beans. I've seen bears just lay in these fields eating the insides outta the pumpkins as well. It seems like most activity is from Oct. On in this area.

biglakeba$$
09-26-2011, 09:57 PM
Holy crap Shed!!!

How many acres is that pumpkin field??
How do you plant that?

I do my quarter acre by hand, putting 4 seeds in each "hill" and hills 10-12 ft apart so I can get a tractor and cultivator between for some attempt at weed control for the first part of the summer before the vines take over.

warningshot
09-26-2011, 10:51 PM
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p206/warningshot_album/deercamnov142009408.jpg


http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p206/warningshot_album/IMG_0510.jpg

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p206/warningshot_album/IMG_0036.jpg

shedhtr82
09-26-2011, 11:02 PM
A local farmer plants my uncle's place and he rotates beans, cabbage, and pumpkins. I'm not entirely sure of they're planting process but I know they do use a pre emergant herbicide for weed control and somehow make they're hills with a tiller in nice neat rows then they have a planter with little seats and as they pull it behind the tractor guys on the seats plant. I think the plants are started when they put them in or they grow really quick. I've seen this field planted in as much as 30 acres of pumpkins although they now split the fields up I'd say close to 10 acres this year. Needless to say there are 1000s of pumpkins left to rot or for the deer.

Tooln
09-27-2011, 03:01 AM
I've been putting them out now for a few years after Halloween, they love them.

outdoorstom
09-27-2011, 07:39 AM
Ask that local taxidermist if he knows what time of day those bucks are being shot. My guess is it is around 10-45 minutes AFTER legal shooting light. Pumpkins dont provide cover, so not many mountable bucks will use them until AFTER the sun sets, at least not in Upstate NY.

Not trying to be argumentative, but clover, WW, WR, etc doesn't provide much cover and lots of mountable bucks get shot during legal hours in them every year.

j-bird
09-27-2011, 08:37 AM
Well I guess I learned something new - I just never really considered it. I will plant some just to see how it goes next year. I also asked around and it sounds like they are hit hardest once it gets cold and the pumpkin gets soft. Some folks I talked to here in IN said the deer eat them here as well. I want to try some next year just to see for myself - any advice on seed selection, soil type, planting dates, planting methods, fertilizer, or weed control?

sagittarius
09-27-2011, 08:49 AM
I planted pumpkins the last six years, next to several foodplots of corn, soybeans, and white clover ... just for the relatives and neighbor kids. The deer rarely touch the pumpkins, some times there maybe teeth marks. In November when they get soft the deer, coons, possums devour the soft flesh. To me, pumpkins might be a 9th or 10th choice for a deer foodplot for added varitey. JMHO ;)

aerospacefarmer
09-27-2011, 08:50 AM
I have planted pumpkins in PA for at least 10 years and the deer dont touch them except maybe and I said maybe if I break them open first they may sample them. I think it may be a regional thing. I love to grow them but wish the deer would eat them more

UpstateNYHntr
09-27-2011, 08:50 AM
Like Biglakes, i take everyones-(mother in laws) neighbors- pumpkins after halloween and throw them out, not a 1 left after a few days, they kill them, ive watch deer stomp on them when they get real soft to open them up..

smsmith
09-27-2011, 08:54 AM
I have planted pumpkins in PA for at least 10 years and the deer dont touch them except maybe and I said maybe if I break them open first they may sample them. I think it may be a regional thing. I love to grow them but wish the deer would eat them more

That's been my experience as well. Very little to no use at all. The ONLY way they use them is if I bust them open....even then most just sit and rot.

Blackjack
09-27-2011, 09:25 AM
I planted a small pumpkin patch this year, probably has 20 pumpkins in it, and when I walked by the other day I saw that the deer were starting to knaw on them, I made a mental note that I better pick some if I want any left for Halloween.

A couple years ago I got some seeds from biglakebass and grew a bunch of those big pumpkins. It took awhile for the deer to figure them out, I had to break a few open, but then they loved them!!! First thing they'd do was once they broke the shell, they'd eat all the seeds.

beeman
09-27-2011, 10:15 AM
I am a Wildlife Damage specialist in SD. We have areas of the region where much of the cropland has melon fields surrounded by the normal mix of crops as well. I get complaints of deer, coons turkeys etc in all of the melon fields, not just pumkins. They seem to prefer the cantalope and honeydew earlier, but then they ripen earlier too. Seems to be no rhyme or reason on pumpkins when they eat them, they eat ones greener than grass in one field, only ripe ones in the next. Other fields they go through, stomp a hole in them take one bite and leave the rest for the coons, others they will eat just seeds, others just flesh, others everything. The only thing I don't know is when the deer stop eating them, since we start sending hunters as soon as the seasons open--youth deer started Sept 10--and the growers stop complaining then.

biglakeba$$
09-27-2011, 11:15 AM
Here is an atlantic giant. In my experience, the deer eat these things up like a kid going after a dairy queen blizzard. I have not seen any pumpkin that a deer wont eat, but these are surely the favorite to the deer I have fed pumpkins to at home and up north at the farm.

This was 125 lbs. I grew it at the farm, and when I saw it mid summer I knew it was going to be a good one. So I sprayed it with a mix of ivory soap and water several times over the summer. I even grated ivory soap over it. LOL. All to keep the deer from eating it. :D
I did not break this one open or anything. Left it whole for halloween and dumped it out back as is. I have never seen deer have a problem eating pumpkins that are not broken open.

http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l224/biglakebass/Nov10.jpg

On_Point
09-27-2011, 11:57 AM
I've planted them mostly to appease the wife and after seeing how much she spent on them and gourds I told her I would grow some for her (used the difference in money saved to by fertilizer and herbicide) and it worked great. Planted them on the edge of my clover fields that I had just planted and they sprawled and had pumpkins. I think it was even easier than planting rye or buckwheat and didn't cost more than buying a few packets of seeds. Had the same results. Deer didn't really go to them until after a hard frost.

j-bird
09-27-2011, 01:34 PM
The pumpkins would be in no way my major plot. I have a small area that I use for trying different things next to my larger plots of clover, chic, alfalfa & corn. Kind of an R&D plot. I figure I may save a little $ in saving some seeds from the pumpkins the kids will have for halloween and plant some and see if I can get something to happen - maybe I can get a different food source for the deer and some jack-o-lanterns as well.

THOMAS9N
09-27-2011, 03:07 PM
love try new plantings, something different, will save some space for a few pumkins next year

MinnesotaHunter
09-27-2011, 04:47 PM
Not trying to be argumentative, but clover, WW, WR, etc doesn't provide much cover and lots of mountable bucks get shot during legal hours in them every year.

I was thinking the same thing? Most food plot crops with a few exceptions but for the most part do not provide both cover and a food source. So to single out pumpkins does not make any sense to me?

rustybucket
09-27-2011, 04:54 PM
What about a few sparse pumpkin plants in a field of oats or rye?

tmoenhunter
09-27-2011, 09:51 PM
I like to plant the edges of some of my plots with pumpkins.

TnNIll
09-28-2011, 12:24 AM
last year during our firearm season, we were still feeling the effects of the drought. Just by chance, there was a small puddle of water left in the ditch that I was hunting near by. Although the puddle was only 20 yds away, I really didn't think there was any water left in the hole, but deer kept coming down to the puddle over the 3 days. Finally, I pulled out the Bino's and I noticed something orange on the ditch bank. I was really puzzled and could not figured what I was looking at, I got to thinking maybe someone had illegally started a mineral lick under my stand. My curosity got the best of me and I crossed the ditch to find 7-8 pumkins growing wild and deer were coming to them every 30 minutes. I have no idea how pumkins got planted in this location. There are no know pumkin patches in the area and the closest home is over a mile away - must have been the birds. I thought the senerio was interesting, but I will not plant a pumpkin plot. By the way, I ending up taking a 150 class ten pointer less than 15 yd from that spot later on during the muzzleloader season.

Tooln
09-28-2011, 01:35 AM
I'm going to try them on the edge of my plot and train the vines to run away from the plot. ;)

Jim Timber
09-28-2011, 05:06 AM
We planted some along the road but they didn't take. I think there's too much salt because we only got one sunflower to come up too.

popeyoung9
01-30-2012, 12:36 PM
Interesting how deer don't eat certain items ( PTT, Pumpkins) within the same county where other guys have great results. We plant 13 acres of food plots with a row of pumpkins, forage beans and the rest ptt/rape/winter rye mix. The pumpkins are gone by 11/15, every speck of orange. Hundreds of large pumpkins gone. The deer would run to the pumpkins first. We planted 12 lbs. of PTT seed which gave us tonnage of turnips and they have been hammering that since 11/25 as usual. I guess deer will walk by certain foods to eat the preferred food in the area. idk

mikmaze
01-30-2012, 01:02 PM
I planted three pounds of pumpkin seeds last spring, they came up awesome, tillered great, just when they started to set flowers the deer discovered them. Those hollow haired sons of does ate the leaves! Ate them to death, all I was left with was stems and vines that withered away. I never got a single pumpkin!

popeyoung9
01-30-2012, 01:32 PM
Yep, Mix up Cayaenne pepper spice and water in a bug sprayer, spray every 5 days until they flower.

xtremehunter83
01-31-2012, 08:23 PM
Yep, Mix up Cayaenne pepper spice and water in a bug sprayer, spray every 5 days until they flower.

good idea, how much pepper per gal?

popeyoung9
01-31-2012, 08:37 PM
1/8 of a spice bottle from the grocery store. You will know by smell and taste. Once the pumpkins flower the deer leave them alone.

xtremehunter83
01-31-2012, 08:45 PM
when do they start hitting them again ? when pumpkins are full on?

popeyoung9
01-31-2012, 09:02 PM
Late October when they are full Orange. They run into the food plot right to the pumpkins, kick them and start inhaling. They ate 600 large pumpkins in 4 weeks. Not one inch of Orange left. I plant 125 pods of 8 seeds each, large variety in may.

xtremehunter83
02-02-2012, 10:58 PM
dang! if only they tasted pumpkin pie

nitro27
02-03-2012, 12:10 AM
Years ago, I hauled a pickup load in for them to eat. It took about a week for the deer to eat the whole load.

Trapper LM
03-05-2012, 05:17 PM
How much pepper per gallon of water?

Trapper LM
03-05-2012, 05:18 PM
oops! sorry, i now saw your reply. Thanks