The Shellbark Hickory produces edible nuts that are favored by humans as well as deer, bear, turkeys, fox, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks and other animals. Hickories serve as food for many wildlife species. The nuts are a preferred food of squirrels and are eaten from the time fruits approach maturity in late summer until the supply is gone.
In addition to the birds and mammals above, mallards, wood ducks, and bobwhites utilize small amounts of hickory nuts. Hickory is not a preferred forage species and seldom is browsed by deer when the range is in good condition. Mature Shellbark Hickories are also a natural roost site for bats.