Throughout the fall, deer and other wildlife species get the opportunity to eat a wide variety of foods, from agriculture and food-plot crops to native foods growing around every corner. During the fall, the native food component can be a combination of tender twigs and leaves, as well as many other types of woody and herbaceous matter. These run-of-the-mill food sources can provide nutrition but will not generally attract deer to a certain area. On the other hand, deer expect to have fall mast crops and will go out of their way to take advantage of these food sources — especially soft mast.
Soft-mast crops, including fruits and berries, are fleshy foods loaded with vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates. Not only are they nutritious, they are the ice cream of the forest. Persimmons are one of the best soft mast to have on a property in the Carolinas. Deer can smell the ripening of persimmons from long distances.
The scientific name for the persimmon tree is Diospyros virginiana. And diospyros translates from the Greek as “food of the Gods”. Deer absolutely love the fleshy orange fruits from persimmon trees, which are deer magnets and very plentiful in rural regions of the Carolinas. Persimmon trees will grow in about any soil type, with the exception of flooded, anaerobic soils of the swamps. Typically, persimmon trees are found in dry communities.
In addition to persimmons, deer will feast on a wide variety of soft mast that’s intermittently available throughout the year. In the fall, crab apples, wild plums, muscadine grapes and dogwood fruits are available. While soft mast can and will provide a hot spot early in the fall, the availability of soft-mast food sources is very short lived and will only provide deer with a good food source for a few weeks. But when they are available, the feeding will be fast and furious. Also, areas where pear, apple and Japanese persimmons are planted can be good places for deer in the fall season.
While the acorn drop sustains deer for much of the fall, the soft-mast production period will bring deer in like mad and shouldn’t be overlooked for hunters looking for a super place for an early fall stand.