Seasonal Use of Clearcuts and Food Plots by White-tailed Deer in the Southern Appalachians

We sampled forage and browse and made spotlight counts to study seasonal use of clearcuts and food plots by white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in the Southern Appalachians. Browse production was greater in clearcuts than in adjacent forest. Deer used clearcuts most intensively during the summer when green leaves and herbs were abundant. Use of clearcuts was very low in winter. Browsing intensity was higher in clearcuts than in the forest in summer but not in winter. However, less than 4% of all twigs were browsed even in clearcuts in summer. Food plots, especially those containing clover-grass mixtures, were used most intensively in early spring when plant growth was rapid. They also appeared to be an important source of nutritious forage in winter, especially when acorns were in short supply. However, forage biomass in food plots was reduced significantly by unfavorable weather conditions, including extreme cold and drought.

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