Hard Mast Plants

Hard Mast plants for deer and wildlife management

The Oaks

Oaks exceed all other tree groups in their contribution to wildlife nutrition. Innumerable birds such as turkey, quail, ruffed grouse, ducks, and many song birds feed on acorns during their time of abundance. Mammals, including deer, squirrels, raccoons, and rabbits avidly eat acorns, which is the prime source of high energy food through the fall and winter months.

Oaks are trees or shrubs in the genus Quercus of which there are more than 600 species worldwide with over 80 species found in North America. There are both deciduous and evergreen species, ranging in height from 8 to 100 feet. Interspecific hybridization occurs commonly in this species, especially in the white oaks.

Sawtooth Oaks

buy sawtooth oaks for deer and wildlife managementWhile not a native species, this is the fastest growing, earliest producing oak tree available.  Sawtooths are rapidly growing oaks that produce heavy acorn production within six years, and they are unsurpassed by any other oak in delivering a consistent, heavy crop. Their acorn crop is the first of all the oaks to mature and drop and should be a mainstay for nutrition in any wildlife management program.  Sawtooths typically drop mid-September to mid-October and will be the center of attention until the acorns are gone!

Red Oaks

buy red oaks for deer and wildlife managementRed Oaks are found in far more numbers than the white oak, and they are identified by leaves typically having sharp lobes which are tipped with a spiny bristle. The acorns are generally smaller, mature in the second year, and have a more bitter taste (greater tannin content) when compared to the white oaks. This bitterness does not mean that wildlife does not relish it; in fact, the lower palatability may be an advantage in that many of them are eaten later in the winter when food shortages may be more acute. Species in this group fit a wide range of soil types and should be matched as a component of hard mast in plantings. If in doubt, call for a consult on appropriate species for site.

White Oaks

buy white oaks for deer and wildlife managementWhite oak trees are generally large with light gray bark and bright green leaves. Compared to red oaks, the leaves on white oak species generally have rounded lobes and lack bristled tips.  The acorns mature in one season, have a “sweet” taste due to low tannin content, and are generally preferred by deer.   For best results, match species to correct habitat and mix with appropriate Red Oak species.

Other Hard Mast Trees

buy chestnut trees and other hard mast plants for deer and wildlife managementWe have a variety of other hard mast species to complement our assortment of sawtooth oaks, red oaks, and white oaks. This group includes the Allegheny Chinquapin and Chinese Chestnut. Click below to learn more about each product or to place an order.