I planted 10 black walnut trees with about 3/8 inches stem (trunk) thickness. Before I could fence them from deer, they chewed off and mashed the central stem bud of two trees. The question I have is should I prune the stem below the chewed/mashed central stem, or just leave it that way? And should I do the same if it were a oak or maple tree?
To Prune or Not
If they were mine, I'd prune the damage just above a node. This way a new branch will emerge with a clean wound above it. I would stake the young tree now, so you can bind the new branch to function as the new "leader". Use a stretchy, non-binding product such as an elastic waistband or pantyhose. As the tree grows, it will be more straight. I would do the same for either oak or maple.