Do deer eat mushrooms? I've been asked that question more times than I care to remember over the years. A google search now will yield all kinds of results related to this question, but when I was researching this in 2014-2018, these answers didn't exist. Matter of factly there was very little information available at all surrounding this subject online. Since my first podcast appearance in August of 2022 on The Habitat Podcast (episode #189), it seems like there are tons of articles, blogs and other clickbaits aimed at this question, most of which contains answers that are erroneous and further muddy the waters of this phenomenon.
Yes, deer eat mushrooms, they eat a wide and dizzying array of them when they are available in the landscape. However, they do not eat all of them and they most certainly seem to display preferences.
Firstly, if it's not native to north america, they don't seem very interested. We have cultivated nearly every variety of farmed fungi in any catalogue or websites culture bank and have done so for many years. Over that time deer have very rarely shown any interest in shiitake, nameko or olive oysterling as examples. These large fleshy and delicious mushrooms fit the bill for whitetails, yet they have zero or very little interest in them, and prefer to target the indigenous species we cultivate or the wild fungi in the landscape. Another demonstration would be the highly invasive yellow or golden oyster mushroom that displaces the native early and late season white oysters. Aside from being yet another obnoxious invasive in the landscape, this mushroom is sneered at by deer.
Other than their dislikes, of particular concern to us is what they do like. That's why we offer Stropharia or SRA Mushroom Food Plots as supplemental feed for wildlife. The critters at our mushroom farm we have operated for many years have always descended upon the SRA plots with a ravenous appetite leaving little but scat, tracks and stems or stipe in their wake. They definitely offer the most bang for the buck too, SRA by far produces the most mushrooms you can grow in an area for the least work, money and time for many years.
As we move forward through the seasons ahead I intend to introduce you, the reader, to many different fungi and we will talk all about them as they grace the landscape in their seasons, especially SRA, but for now.. Let's leave with this closing thought. Not all corn is equal, not all Oaks are equal, not all Mushrooms are equal either, and in the diet of our critters we share our MycoHabitat with, that matters.