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Deer: The Unlikely Carnivore

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Whitetail deer… they fascinate us, challenge us, even nourish us. Outdoors-oriented men and women just can’t get enough. We love to observe them, hunt them, and read about them. Outdoor magazines have long known that a picture of a big buck on the cover may double their sales even in the heat of spring turkey season. Whitetail deer are just phenomenally interesting creatures. But did you know that they eat meat? Daniel Xu tells the story in the post from OutdoorHub:

byers017Many people may not know that deer, like some other herbivores, eat meat from time to time. It’s hard to imagine these creatures as steak-seeking predators, but deer will be quick to take advantage of a nutritious opportunity. Biologists say that this behavior is uncommon and rarely is deer depredation documented. Still, the deer don’t exactly keep it a secret.

“Some of these animals really are omnivorous,” U.S. Geological Survey biologist Pam Pietz reported all the way back in 1998.  Lacking natural hunting instincts, deer tend to target (or perhaps more accurately, stumble upon and snatch up) easier meals such as bird eggs and hatchlings. In fact, deer can be a common danger for ground-nesting birds.

“If they come across a nest, where the food doesn’t move or run away, they’ll take advantage…”

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.