Deer love apples, everybody knows that. In fact, some believe apple flavor to be tops for supplemental attractants.
One orchard owner begs to differ.
I was at the Apple Barn getting cider last week when Tom Tranbarger and I got on the subject of deer eating apples.
The Apple Barn is across the road from Pendleton State Prison property so it only seems natural the deer would take advantage of this sweet fruit on a moonlit night, but they don’t.
“A fellow down the road has penned deer. He took some of my cider pulp home. They wouldn’t touch it,” said Tranbarger. “In January and February, with snow on the ground, I will put out storage apples. The deer really eat them then, but there is little else.”
I once tossed a wild deer an apple while I was morel hunting. The young doe sniffed it and went about nibbling blackberry leaves.
Dave Schlaubaugh, who lives at the edge of Anderson city limits, has a buck come at dusk to eat apples beneath the tree in his yard. His wife even talks to the buck.
Roger Murdock has a feeding station for wildlife. He has been baiting with shelled corn and apples. “I saw a deer pick up an apple and eat it,” he told me.
I called DNR biologists Ken Hanour to enlighten me. He pointed out that in states where hunters are allowed to bait deer, apples and turnips are favored. Hanour believes deer have quite a varied diet. They like white oak acorns, persimmons, soybeans, field corn and a lot of things green.
What is accurate? Perhaps some deer do and some deer don’t. There could be another reason. I took Transbarger some apples out of a woods for identification. It was difficult to ID them because, according to the orchard man, diseased and wormy apples or those that get bruised ripen differently and maybe deer like that slightly rotten taste. Untreated and unpruned apples are much smaller than those beauties found at the Apple Barn.