Of all the nuts, fruits, berries and other wild foods produced each year by the state’s native flora, nutrient-rich acorns are the most important. Black bears, white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, squirrels, mice, foxes, raccoons, chipmunks, bobwhite quail, woodpeckers, blue jays and dozens of other species — all rely on acorns to help see them through fall and winter.
The health and abundance of wildlife — especially bear, deer and turkey — often rise and fall with acorn availability during those seasons. When available, acorns are the most preferred white-tailed deer food during the cold months, composing half or more of the animals' diet. When acorns are plentiful, deer may eat little else other than acorns until the nuts are depleted in late winter.