To all of those with a substantial number of fruit trees.....


Active Member
From a hunting perspective only do your orchards meet your expectations? Do they attract deer? Help feed the herd? Present you with kill shots?

Are you frustrated at all with some of your choices? Varity? Apples, pears, persimmons, etc?

Are they difficult to hunt from an elevated stand? Can deer get in and feed and exit without a good shot? (Oak trees branches don't block shots).

Forget about the satisfaction of growing them. Forge about human consumption. Would you do it again? Or would you focus time money and effort on a differant habitat improvement?


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From a hunting perspective only do your orchards meet your expectations? I would say they have an impact, but not as big of an impact as good cover. I can set in my blind and see deer eating persimmons, chestnut and other fruit, but I think the deer would be there just for the cover, and there are other natural foods that they would eat if the orchards were not there.

Do they attract deer? I think they attract resident deer, but I doubt they bring deer in from long distances. They probably help to hold doe groups nearby, and that could help with attracting bucks during the rut.

Help feed the herd? I'm now dropping enough fruit and nuts that I think it is definitely helping to feed the herd. The herd would survive without the orchards, but the orchards gives more diverse food.

Present you with kill shots? Yes.

Are you frustrated at all with some of your choices? Variety? Apples, pears, persimmons, etc? Some of my early apple choices could have been better, but I'm still pretty happy. In the last few years I have fine tuned with some varieties of pears and apples that will be better choices than some of the early ones. I think a guy needs a lot of variety - apples, crabapples, pears, persimmons, chestnuts and even some early fruit like plums and cherries. The main thing in my area is to get apples and pears that are highly disease resistant.

Are they difficult to hunt from an elevated stand? Can deer get in and feed and exit without a good shot? Not difficult to hunt because of some of the planning and design that was done. Just a few of my trees are not easy to see from hunting locations, so deer can feed and exit at places without being seen. At other places my trees are at the edges of shooting lanes on a wagon wheel pattern from the hunting location. They are easy to see at those places. Of course, they can always feed at night and not be seen.

Forget about the satisfaction of growing them. Forget about human consumption. Would you do it again? Or would you focus time money and effort on a different habitat improvement? I would still do it again, because the fruit and nut trees are only a small part of my overall plan. You could put too much effort into orchards and end up being disappointed, but I don't feel like I've done that. I feel the good fall cover is my best attribute at hunting time, and the orchards are just an extra bonus.
I have 40 pears and apples some are producing some aren't yet.The deer and coyotes eat alot of fruit.Don't really hunt over them yet but we do pick some to eat.I also plant alot of sandhill plums but they produce fruit and provide great cover for everything,I have planted around 5000 in 8-10 different patches.I think the best option is planting different things that will feed at different times and that mature at different times.I plant more pears than apple because they require less maintenance.But mast bearing trees such as oaks and chestnuts can be important also
That is an excellent question David. Our apple and pear trees are mostly wild but great efforts and expense has been put forth over the years in rescuing them from death by forest succession. They feed a lot of deer, draw a lot of deer and we have taken a lot of deer, both bucks and does in the apples. We see mostly does in the pear trees as the pears ripen early here before rut and every single pear gets eaten quickly. The apple and pear tree areas are like clover plots in ways; even if neglected for a couple years they keep on working. The main natural deer paths on the property connect all of the apple areas to each other. And the thicker the surrounding cover and more secure the location itself just like clover plots, the more daytime deer use the apple area gets.

While we have successfully at times, it has not been best for us to hunt directly over them as the deer spend a lot of time in the fruit tree areas and eventually often get a whiff of us. Ideal planned orchards would be ones that are blocked well so their access is funneled or ones that are situated for long range shooting or ones that act as staging areas between heavy cover and food plots/AG fields.

The most important function of the apple trees here has probably been the browse and over head "thermal" cover they provide the deer through much of the winter. The "thermal"cover comes from the snow being held in the upper tree branches of the apples but not so much in the pear trees.
I dont have apple trees that are producing yet, but I have about 30 that are less than 3-4 years old. I try to plant 12 each spring and some die off. Here is my 2 cents...

1. I really enjoy planting and watching these trees grow
2. I don't really expect to drastically change my hunting experience. Most of my trees (20 or so) are kind of out in the middle of nowhere on our farm. I am trying to create deer traffic in an area that doesn't get much, but more so I am trying to add another source of attraction to my property. I am going to continue to plant my food plots to try and kill deer over.
3. With the help of this forum, I stumbled across a lot of late season fruit dropping trees. I feel I can really help feed deer through December and January with these.
4. I don't plan on stopping... I am hoping that if I plant 12 a year, in 10 years, when my daughter (1 yr now) is finally ready to try youth season hunting, we will have a whole lot of fruit hitting the ground from Oct-December.

I don't expect a miracle with these trees, but like Native said, it's another piece of the puzzle.

Hope that helps?
I enjoy the heck out of my trees even though they aren't producing yet. It's my belief that God instills passion in all of us about something, mine seem to intersect with deer hunting & apple trees. I'm quite grateful for both, I find it to be his humor that 1 can help the other. As time goes by though, I'm sure I will have plenty of first hand experiences with shoulda woulda coulda on varieties but, if I can keep a handful of heirloom varieties in existence I'll be quite proud.
From a hunting perspective only do your orchards meet your expectations? Do they attract deer? Help feed the herd? Present you with kill shots?

Are you frustrated at all with some of your choices? Varity? Apples, pears, persimmons, etc?

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Great question David. I’m still in the novice stage on growing fruit trees but here’s what I know at this stage from my experience since 1st planting pears in 2011. Of the pears, I’ve planted 2 varieties - Orient & Kieffer. Orients are very subject to fire blight. Kieffers not so much. Kieffers have grown into trees large enough that they no longer require caging. However, I seem to get wiped out with late frosts every single year. I’ve yet to produce but a handful of pears due to late frosts. I’m in my 2nd year of grafting apple trees and am more hopeful that they will do better than my pears. I’m growing Yates and horse apple.

The one fruit that never disappoints is native persimmon. They are loaded with fruit every year, never require spraying or pretty much any maintenance and deer love them. If I plant more fruit trees it’s highly likely I will focus on persimmon. I see Native Hunter’s fruit trees and am amazed at what he produces on his farm. Micro climate on my farm seems to attract late frosts that prevent me from having much luck on my planted trees.
thanks for all the replies....sometimes it helps me to have a reason for doing something. I have a few fruit trees...maybe 20. I plan on adding a handful each year, but i want my expectations to be realistic. Too often i build up the anticipation and importance of a small area of wildlife management only to be disappointed.

Triple C, i remember you talking about persimmons in a previous post. I appreciate the input. I plan on using them in heavy amounts in the future. i am currently growing some cuttings from a tree on my farm that is a late dropper.

I remember at my old hunt club there was a lone persimmon in a small old field. maybe a 4 acre opening in a pine plantation. Each year my brother and i would kill a doe under it. The dang deer smelled like persimmons! It was often that i was tag #1 at the processor because it was so predictable. I just want to make sure i don't "expect" the same from apples and pears.
We have about 10 30' pears and about 5 apple trees that grandpa grabbed out of the dumpster about 40 years ago. Most of the apples are dying but still make fruit. Pears bear well every year. I planted a few apples and a crabapple there for pollination and while only in the ground 2 years 4 of them already want to make fruit.

It's mainly for human consumption but deer are there every night until rifle season usually, just munching on the trees. It's also part of a path that bucks cruise through bit it's right next to the road so they don't stay. We can watch from the back portch, I think it's a good as hunting spot as any.

Ive spent alot of time and money on this area and like to see it grow, but my real areas are back in the woods. I have about 50 persimmons in one patch on a funnel. I hope to cut these down to about 20 to allow for males/females and create a good hunting patch for my 6 month old daughter. I also have a few crab apples back there that are completely on there own.

Overall I would do it again. It's hard to take care of it all but aside from some spraying for weeds around the base persimmons are zero maintenance and survive every year in tubes. Young apples require alot, but I will add more.

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