Using Acorns to Harvest Mature Deer
One common theme regardless of where you are hunting and what you are hunting for is finding a limited resource that’s in high demand. In the case of white-tailed deer those resources are generally food, cover, and mates. There are only a few food resources that are in as high demand as acorns are during a good mast crop. Acorns represent a high-quality food source that isn’t available for very long which is why most animals take advantage of them. Acorns even have the power to draw mostly nocturnal mature bucks out during daylight. This article will discuss how you should go about identifying trees that will likely produce good acorn crops and how to make a set in hopes to fill your freezer in the fall.
Not All Trees are Created Equal
The first step in this process is to be able to identify what types of oak trees you have on your hunting property. Wildlife tend to have preferences regarding which acorns they eat from different types of oak trees. For example, acorns from oak trees in the red oak family tend to have more tannins, or toxins, present in their acorns. Acorns with an increased amount of tannins tend to not be as palatable as acorns with less tannins like those produced by oaks from the white oak family. Being able to tell the difference between a white oak tree from a red oak tree will help you when deciding where to focus your scouting efforts. What happens if you don’t have any white oak trees on your hunting property? Still hunt over red oaks. Although deer may not hit these acorns as hard as they would from a white oak, they will still make use of the resource.
Once you’ve identified what types of oaks you have on your hunting property, then the next step is to understand more about how often oak trees produce mast crops. Some years are better than others for mast crops and oak trees that produce one acorn crop every few years are generally considered to be a good mast producing tree. This inconsistency in acorn production is part of the reason why acorns are so desired by wildlife. If you are lucky enough to have a grove of oak trees, then hopefully you will have at least one tree a year producing an acorn crop.
Scouting for Acorns
Given the inconsistent nature of acorn production, you will likely have to do some moving around to make sure you are setup in the best possible location to take advantage of acorns dropping. There are a couple of ways you can go about doing this. The first thing you can do is take a pair of binoculars out and spend some time looking up in oak trees during late summer. By this time, you will be able to see acorns in the trees, especially with the help of binoculars. Identifying which trees have the most acorns will help direct you when deciding on stand placement.
If you aren’t able to get out and do some scouting during the summer you can still do some on the ground scouting during the hunting season. This method requires you to be more mobile which is easily done with use of a climbing tree stand, a mobile hang-on set, or even a ground blind. Going out early one afternoon and finding acorn caps is a good sign that acorns are hitting the ground and animals are already eating them. Couple that with signs of deer scat and you are likely in a hot spot. Use a topo map to try to identify the bedding areas so you can have an idea of where deer will be approaching from. Remember that acorns are a limited resource so there may not be established trails coming from bedding areas. Deer may literally show up out of nowhere. After you figure out where deer might be approaching form then set up your stand to play the wind and sit tight.
Understanding what resources are available and when they are available can dramatically increase your chances of harvesting a mature buck. Acorns represent one limited resource that most deer will take advantage of and because they’re a limited resource, deer will take increased risks like moving during daylight to obtain them. Acorns tend to drop throughout October and November depending on what part of the country you are in. Hopefully you will keep these tips in mind when you hit the woods. They may just help you fill your tag.