Whitetail Habitat Improvement -Chestnut Trees

Whitetail Habitat Improvement Project

The American Chestnut Tree used to be found across vast swaths of forested areas in the United States. Estimated to have north of 40 million trees in North America. These trees were a great source of nutrition for wildlife and livestock alike. However, we imported a fungus around a century ago that decimated the American Chestnut species. The American Chestnut tree is almost extinct today despite the best efforts of some organizations. The Whitetail Habitat Improvement – Chestnut Trees article will outline the benefits of adding this tree to your whitetail property.

What does this have to do with whitetail habitat improvement?

Grunt, Snort-Wheeze, and Rattle this to your buddies!

chestnut trees for whitetail deer

The chestnut tree can still be a key source of your overall habitat improvement plan, as long as it isn’t the American variety. There are numerous strains of chestnut trees from the middle east that will survive and thrive in the Midwest. The nuts are a great source of nutrients for whitetail deer. They are 40% carbs, 10% protein, and 2% fat which is far greater percentage of carbs and protein compared to every whitetail hunters’ favorite tree the white oak. There are multiple benefits of chestnut trees in a habitat improvement plan.

Chestnut Tree Benefits

  • Grow fast, produce mast in 3 – 7 years
  • They do not alternate seasons like a red oak
  • Hold their leaves throughout winter
  • The nutrition content (40% carbs, 10% protein, and 2% fat)

In my experience, with care, your Chinese chestnuts will begin producing their first fruits at five years old. I have heard reports that they can begin as early as three years but that hasn’t been my experience. This is much faster than many nut producing trees’ and once they start, they will produce chestnuts each year.

chestnut trees for whitetail deer

An underappreciated fact of chestnut trees is they hold their leaves all winter. I like this due it creates cover for me to move and hunt late season when everything else has dropped its leaves. Keep this in mind as you plan your improvement projects. These can be strategically planted to provide cover for your movement or on the outside of whitetail movement corridors.

You can find Chinese chestnut trees through multiple channels. Some nurseries stock them, mail order or internet has multiple options and number of big box retailers sell a variety branded “Dunstan Chestnuts”. You can read and make your own determination on the Dunstan brand. At the end of the day, any of the Chinese chestnut varieties will help accomplish your habitat improvement plans goals.

If you haven’t considered adding chestnut trees to your improvement plan, you should. They will quickly (in comparison to oaks) add a nutritionally dense food source for your whitetail herd that is different from your surrounding landowners.


I can only imagine the feeling when my kids are shooting mature deer from around tree’s I planted, and that is part of my drive for undertaking habitat improvement projects. If you have questions on this or anything habitat improvement related send us a note a 1strutcontact@gmail.com.

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