Oak trees are an excellent food source for deer and a prime hunting location.
We have several food plots on our property because we feel that it provides our herd with necessary nutrients. But diversity is useful. That’s why we also rely on our Feebank feeders, as well as natural sources like oak trees. In the early season especially, there’s no place we’d rather be than hunting an oak that’s dropping acorns.
Usually, the acorns are eaten by late October. In bumper crop years, the abundance of acorns could last well into November or December. That’s advantageous for later in the season once the leafy browse, food plots and farm crops have been picked over.
There are likely several varieties of oak trees scattered throughout your property. It’s best to identify them because some produce earlier in the year, while others will drop acorns later. Also, deer prefer acorns with less of the bitter-tasting tannic acid. By knowing what varieties the deer are browsing at certain times of the year, you can create a plan. Here are some tips to start hunting oak trees on your property.
Pick the Right Acorns
White oak acorns are more palatable to a deer because they contain less tannic acid. This includes chestnut, eastern, bur, post and sawtooth. The sawtooth is an invasive white oak that’s fast-growing and popular among land managers because it produces every year starting at about eight years old.
White oak trees typically produce a mast crop every few years that drop early in the fall. Since they are the best tasting, they are eaten first. Identify these varieties on your property and scout near the area, looking for deer sign.
After the white acorns have thinned out, deer will likely begin targeting red oaks, which include the northern and southern red, willow, laurel, water, pin and nuttall, among a few others. These acorns have higher concentrations of tannic acid. While that makes them less desirable to whitetails, tannins allow the acorns to stay ripe longer on the forest floor. This provides food when winter starts to set in and other food sources are drying up.
It can be difficult to get to a blind on an acorn flat without pushing the deer out of the area. You have a better chance of waking up at 8 a.m., eating breakfast and hunting from mid-morning to dark. It’s common for deer to bed down not long after sunrise and then get up to stretch their legs and grab a snack later in the day.
Hunt Travel Corridors
Does and small bucks may show up early to feed, but mature deer will often wait until last light. So while it’s tempting to hunt just a few yards from an oak tree, instead opt for setting up a blind on a heavily used trail nearby. This way, you can intercept bucks before the sun sets.
If you’re hunting fields and food plots and not seeing many deer this October, change your game plan and hunt the acorns. When there’s an abundance on the ground, it’s hard to tempt deer elsewhere. This is true no matter how great your food plot is.