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  • Writer's pictureGreg Kazmierski

3 of the Best Shrubs for Deer Habitat

Creating a sustainable whitetail habitat that will attract deer is a goal shared by many property owners. While various factors contribute to a successful whitetail habitat, one essential element is the selection of the right shrubs.

Shrubs not only offer thick cover for a bedding area, but can also serve as a critical food source for whitetails throughout the year.

Below, we will explore a few shrubs that have proven to be favorites among deer. By identifying and incorporating these shrubs into your whitetail land management strategy, you can create an enticing habitat for whitetails that will improve your whitetail property and overall deer hunting.

Red Osier Dogwood

Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea) is a versatile and attractive shrub that holds great value in whitetail habitat improvement. Its striking red stems during the winter months make it visually appealing, while its dense growth pattern offers great cover and bedding areas for deer.

Not only does it provide valuable bedding cover, it also offers a natural feed. During the colder months, deer eat the twigs and stems, ensuring they have access to essential nutrients year-round.

This shrub's adaptability to various soil types and climates makes it an excellent choice for improving upon or planting shrubs in various regions of the country.

red osier dogwood

Berry Bushes

Berry bushes are a delectable treat that not only delights the human palate but also entices whitetails throughout the year. These shrubs, including varieties like blackberry, raspberry, and elderberry, offer a bountiful supply of nutritious berries that those mature bucks love to eat.

The availability of these delectable fruits during the late summer and early fall months serves as alternative food becoming more available as patterns begin to shift.

Additionally, the dense foliage of berry bushes provides one of the more dense types of cover, making them feel secure and protected.

raspberry bush


Greenbrier (Smilax) is a resilient and robust shrub that has long been favored due to its year-round appeal. This twining vine, also known as "catbrier" or "smilax," is abundant in forests and woodlands, making it a natural part of many deer habitats.

The young shoots and leaves of Greenbrier are a nutritious food source during the spring and early summer months that deer love.

As winter approaches, its dark blue-black berries become available, providing a valuable energy boost to deer during the colder season. Greenbrier's sprawling growth habit creates a few feet tall, dense tangle, offering excellent cover for bedding and escape routes, making it a preferred shrub in deer-rich areas.


What are the Best Deer Habitats?

While incorporating specific shrubs can significantly enhance a whitetail habitat, it is essential to consider other factors as well. The best whitetail habitats consist of a diverse and balanced mix of other plant shrubs not included in the species mentioned above, small trees and large trees alike, and even the occasional invasive species, providing year-round forage and deer cover for bedding areas.

By carefully selecting and incorporating these top-notch shrubs, along with other essential habitat components, you can develop an alluring and sustainable environment that attracts not only whitetail but also other wildlife.

Respectful land management practices that support native flora and fauna contribute to the preservation of these majestic creatures and the delicate ecosystems they inhabit.

Moreover, understanding the deer's seasonal movements and their preferences for specific food sources will help optimize your habitat management efforts. If you find yourself looking for some guidance improving your whitetail property as a long term project, reach out to your regional specialist today!

Whether you are a land owner or a dedicated deer hunter, creating the best habitat is a rewarding endeavor that fosters a harmonious coexistence with nature's most enchanting creatures.

drone picture of whitetail habitat


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