Do Deer Eat Popcorn?

Over the years of working in the hunting industry, I’ve been asked several interesting questions about the diet of a whitetail deer. In some of those conversations, I’ve been asked if deer will eat various items, with most of the questions being geared toward human food items. One of the oddest questions I’ve been asked about whitetail deer diets was this one: do deer eat popcorn?

Obviously, popcorn is not part of the deer’s typical natural food chain; technically, neither is corn.

Do Deer Eat Popcorn

Key Takeaways

– Deer primarily eat vegetation such as grass, leaves, and twigs, and popcorn is not a normal part of their diet.

– Feeding deer popcorn can disrupt their digestive processes and lacks essential nutrients for their optimal health.

– Offering alternatives such as apples or carrots would better meet a deer’s dietary needs than feeding them popcorn.

– Feeding deer popcorn can pose risks to their health and well-being, as certain human foods can be harmful to their overall well-being.

The Deer’s Natural Diet

Deer don’t stick to just leaves and grass – they have a surprisingly varied natural diet tied to food availability.

During the spring and summer months, deer primarily graze on tender shoots, leaves, and grasses. They use their incisors to crop grass close to the ground in a motion called ‘clipping.’

In the fall and winter, deer resort to browsing behavior when forage becomes scarce. Browsing involves selectively feeding on woody browse such as twigs, buds, bark, and even small branches from trees and shrubs. This provides them with additional fiber and nutrients necessary for survival during these leaner times.

Deer’s foraging behavior is adaptive and allows them to exploit different food resources throughout the year. 

Is Popcorn Safe for Deer?

While it may seem harmless, feeding deer popcorn can pose certain risks to their health and well-being.

Since popcorn is a processed food that is made for human consumption, most deer biologists do not recommend it as a deer food item, even in small quantities.

Additionally, the nutritional value of popcorn for deer is minimal compared to their natural diet. Popcorn lacks essential nutrients that they need for optimal health and growth. It is important to remember that wild animals have specific dietary needs that should be met through natural food sources rather than human snacks like popcorn.

Finally, most commercially produced popcorn is seasoned with salt, butter, or other flavorings. These additives can potentially cause severe issues in the digestive system of a whitetail deer.

Rather than offer popcorn, there are several other deer-friendly food sources that are safer and offer much better nutritional value compared to popcorn.

Popcorn Left on the Ground for Deer


Here are some related FAQs that I’ve come across regarding deer consuming popcorn:

Do deer like popcorn?

It’s hard to say definitively. I’ve spoken to some people who have offered popcorn to deer in the winter and indicated that the deer seemed to love popcorn. And I’ve talked to others who reported that the deer seemed to ignore popcorn left out for them.

Can I feed popcorn to deer?

Technically, you can potentially feed your local deer popcorn as long as it’s legal to do so. However, most deer biologists recommend against the practice given the potential digestion issues for whitetail deer.

What type of popcorn do deer eat?

Again, feeding deer popcorn is not a recommended practice. However, it appears that deer can eat both popped and unpopped popcorn kernels.

Is popcorn nutritious for deer?

As I mentioned above, popcorn provides little nutritional value for deer.

Can deer digest popcorn?

I have not been able to find any valid literature stating that deer cannot digest popcorn. However, I have seen warnings from several different sources addressing the potential digestion issues that can be caused by popped popcorn. 

Final Thoughts

While it appears that deer will eat popcorn, it’s not a recommended food item for deer to eat. This type of food was created for humans to eat, so it has some potential concerns when offered as food for deer. Deer are herbivores, and popcorn is not part of the typical herbivore diet. Honestly, there are far better and healthier food options if you want to feed your local deer.

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