The 2014 Acorn Conundrum

Most hunters know that the number one natural deer food is acorns. They are found in most all of the … Continued

Most hunters know that the number one natural deer food is acorns. They are found in most all of the whitetail’s habitat, and deer readily seek them out and devour them. Many hunters have observed deer walking through agricultural fields on their way to an acorn-dropping oak tree. The nuts are very nutritional for deer.

Anytime a hunter can find an acorn-producing tree or trees, he has found a potential stand site. If the oak nuts are there, it’s very likely that the deer have found them too.

But what happens when there are too many acorns? That is the case currently in the mountainous portions of north Alabama, north Georgia, and upstate South Carolina. Because of a combination of favorable environmental conditions, the oak trees in these areas are producing an enormous amount of acorns this year. Oaks of all species are producing acorns in abundance. In some areas it is difficult to walk because the ground is covered with the round nuts.

Such a crop is a good thing for wildlife, but not for hunters. Deer will gorge on acorns and then lay down. They can fill up in short time and then go bed down. The deer will be fat and happy, but hunters may be left wondering when and where the deer will feed.

The best strategy in this case–though it is still not a sure bet–is to try to find the acorns with the most feeding sign. Look for churned up leaves, droppings, and buck rubs. Finding an acorn-producing oak near a thicket may be a good place to catch a buck, especially right at dusk. If a buck is bedded near his feeding source, sometimes a little calling may draw him out.

Other areas of the South are not so overwhelmed with acorns. One tree or small patch of oaks dropping acorns when other areas are not can be a deer hot spot. That’s exactly what Jeff Callaway and his daughter Autumn did this past weekend.

Hunting in Morgan County, Georgia, Jeff and Autumn climbed a double ladder stand to wait for a deer near a red oak tree. It was the opener for Georgia’s muzzleloader season, during which youths are allowed to use centerfire firearms. Jeff had been seeing many deer feeding on the plentiful red oak acorns in the area, including a nice nine-pointer. They spotted the buck at dusk as it was sparring with some other small bucks and raking his antlers in some branches. A grunt call brought the buck close enough for Autumn to bag her first buck.