Do Deer Eat Crabapples? Tips For Hunters & Farmers

I have always been curious about the eating habits of deer and have often wondered: do deer eat crabapples? As a nature lover, I have done my research and discovered the science behind deer’s love for sweet and scented fruits like crabapples.

Do Deer Eat Crabapple?

Deer are known to have a preference for fruits, and crabapples happen to be one of their top meal choices. They are attracted to the sweet taste and pleasing scent of crabapples and will feed on them when hungry or just out of preference. However, deer tend to avoid fruits that are hairy, thorny, or smelly. Overall, crabapples make for a tasty and desirable meal option for deer.

What Are Crabapple Trees?

Crabapple trees are a member of the apple family that produces small, tart fruits. They are small to medium-sized trees that grow up to 20 to 30 feet tall and are native to the temperate regions of Asia and North America. Crabapples have gained popularity among wildlife enthusiasts and hunters alike due to their attractive features.

Crabapple trees offer a wide variety of fruit colors, including green, yellow, orange, and red. Their fruits are usually between 1/2 and 2 inches in diameter, and they have a sour taste. Crabapple trees come in two types, ornamental and fruit-bearing trees. Ornamental varieties produce fruit that is too bitter for human consumption, but it’s ideal for wildlife. On the other hand, fruit-bearing varieties offer slightly sweeter fruit that can be eaten by humans and animals.

Attributes That Make Crabapples Appealing to Deer

Deer are naturally attracted to sweet-smelling fruits, and crabapples are no exception. In fact, they love the taste of crabapples and will eagerly feed on them. Moreover, crabapple trees are an excellent source of nutrient-rich food for deer, especially in the fall when other food sources are scarce. Deer rely on fruits and nuts, which are high in carbohydrates, to build energy reserves for the winter.

Crabapples are also a great way to attract and hold deer in a particular area, which is beneficial for hunters and wildlife managers. By planting crabapple trees in strategic locations, you can create a natural food source that will draw deer to your property. Additionally, the scent of crabapples can mask human odor, which is helpful for hunters trying to remain undetected in the field. Overall, the combination of taste, scent, and nutritional value makes crabapples highly appealing to deer.

How to Utilize Crabapple Trees for Hunting and Property Management

Hunting Techniques

When hunting deer, it’s essential to understand their feeding habits. One way to do this is by setting up a stand or blind near a crabapple tree. You can use this method to intercept deer as they come to feed on the fruit. Another technique is to create an orchard of crabapple trees, which will attract more deer and increase your chances of success.

  1. Plant crabapple trees in areas that receive plenty of sunlight and have well-draining soil.
  2. Select improved crabapple varieties that produce sweeter fruit.
  3. Plant a variety of crabapple trees that will produce fruit at various times of the season. This will provide a continuous food source for deer.
  4. Plant the trees in groups rather than individually. This will create a more natural-looking setting and make it easier to conceal your hunting setup.

Property Management Benefits

In addition to hunting benefits, crabapple trees offer several advantages for property owners and wildlife managers. When creating a deer orchard, it’s essential to consider the long-term benefits of the landscape.

  1. Crabapple trees enhance the aesthetics of the property by adding a splash of color to the landscape. They also provide shelter and cover for wildlife.
  2. Crabapple trees help prevent soil erosion by stabilizing the ground with their roots.
  3. Crabapple trees promote biodiversity by providing a food source for other wildlife, including birds and small mammals.

Drawbacks of Using Crabapples for Property Management

One of the disadvantages of using crabapples for property management and creating deer orchards is the fact that deer may become too reliant on them. Over time, they may become conditioned to feeding on crabapples and ignore other food sources. This can lead to issues with overpopulation, disease, and defoliation. Whitetail deer can also be selective eaters, and they may avoid certain varieties of crabapples, which can limit their effectiveness.

Another potential issue is the cost and maintenance of crabapple trees. They require regular attention, including pruning, fertilizing, and pest management. Moreover, it may take several years for them to produce fruit, which can be a significant initial investment for property owners.


So there you have it, folks! The million-dollar question – do deer eat crabapples? The answer is a resounding yes! These beautiful creatures have a penchant for fruits that have a sweet and alluring scent, and crabapples are no exception. They munch on them whenever they can, and it’s undoubtedly one of their top meal choices.

However, deer are quite picky about the fruits they eat and avoid ones that are hairy, smelly, or spiky. If you’re planning on attracting deer to your backyard, planting crabapple trees might just do the trick. Not only will they provide a tasty snack for the deer, but they’ll also give your garden a beautiful aesthetic appeal. So, go ahead and plant some crabapple trees, and watch as nature’s graceful creatures come to feast on them!

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