The Best Deer Food – Original Dunstan Chestnuts

10-yr-old Dunstan Chestnut Tree
10-yr-old Dunstan Chestnut Tree
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Chestnut Hill Outdoors Realtree Nursery

Columbus, GA -( Any deer hunter with white oak trees on his or her property knows these acorns are a deer magnet when they rain down to the forest floor in October and November.

Imagine a food source so attractive to deer it would cause deer to walk right past white oak acorns. Imagine if that food source would only have to be purchased and planted once, with no maintenance, and then for century or more would produce high volumes of nutritious forage every year.

That food source once existed until disease wiped American chestnut trees from our forests. Now, Chestnut Hill Nursery is bringing a disease-resistant chestnut, the Dunstan Chestnut tree, back to American forests, and land managers are discovering the ultimate planting for deer and other wildlife.

A century ago, the American chestnut was the primary food source tree for forest wildlife. Deer, bear, turkey, squirrel, and hogs all favored this big nut. A Dunstan Chestnut forest can produce 2,000 pounds of mast or more of forage per acre and provide more carbohydrates than an acre of hard-to-grow corn, which has to be planted every season and is dependent on rain and environmental factors to even produce.

Dunstan Chestnuts are sweet-tasting nuts that are very high in protein (10 percent) and carbohydrates (40 percent), and they are favored by all wildlife because they have no bitter-tasting tannins like acorns. Field tests by wildlife experts have shown that Dunstan Chestnuts are chosen by deer over all other acorns because of their taste and nutrition.

The Dunstan Chestnut was developed after years of grafting and work by noted plant breeder Dr. Robert Dunstan. The result was a chestnut that is disease resistant, and it produces very heavy annual crops of very large, sweet nuts. Dunstan Chestnuts have been grown all over the United States in Zones 5-9, from Maine to Michigan and Illinois and south to Florida, without any trees ever dying from the blight that eradicated American chestnuts.

Dunstan Chestnuts were tested by Dr. James Kroll, known as “Dr. Deer,” at the Whitetail Research Institute in Nacogdoches, Texas. Dr. Kroll reported, “Even though the wild deer at this location had never seen a chestnut in many generations, they got on the chestnuts within only an hour after we put them out. The deer ate the chestnuts 100:1 over the acorns! Chestnuts are deer’s preferred food.”

Dunstan Chestnuts grow quickly and bear nuts in only 3 to 5 years, much sooner than oaks that take 10 to 20 years. Dunstan Chestnuts also have wide soil adaptability, bear nuts every year unlike most oak species which produce every other year, and they provide excellent production of up to 2,000 pounds or more per acre.

The sweet taste of chestnuts even sweetens the meat of the animals that eat it. In Spain, hogs are raised on chestnuts because of the excellent flavored meat it produces, and Estremaduran pork is an international delicacy. Venison from chestnut-fed deer simply tastes better, without the gamey taste of deer that feed on bitter-tasting acorns.

Chestnut Hill Outdoors sells Dunstan Chestnut seedlings, packaged for easy planting in root-enhancing containers. The company also supplies Grow Tubes that that keep deer from browsing on the leaves of the young trees and rodents from chewing on the bark.

Landowners who want to enhance a food plot with chestnuts should start with at least two trees, because without cross-pollination, a single tree won’t produce nuts. Trees should be planted at least 30 feet apart to allow the big trees to grow, but within 100 feet of each other to allow the wind to pollinate them. Trees may be planted in spring or fall.

Contact Chestnut Hill Outdoors directly to place an order by calling (855) 386-7826.

About Chestnut Hill Outdoors

Chestnut Hill is the best place for you to purchase your food plot and deer attractant plants because they offer a large selection, their plants are specifically bred to attract deer, and they offer customers different sized plants at different levels of growth.

For more information on Dunstan Chestnuts, the original best deer food, visit

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Kevin Forbes

Great article, need to c bout getting some seedlings. All bout growing big mass horns. Thanks