Bruce: For Now, Acorns Rule

Oct. 11: Bowhunting in October in the South is not about hot rutting action. Sure there are a few rubs and scrapes here and there, but none that scream "big buck" like they will later in the season. What most of us are looking for is basic deer sign, particularly food sources. Nothing says whitetail food source like acorns. The oak seeds are a deer mainstay and they search them out and gorge on them every chance they get.

Everytime I'm in the October woods, I'm looking for dropping acorns just like the deer are. Spot an oak tree, look under it for the brown, or green, nuggets laying on the forest floor. But not only that, there needs to be some indication that the deer have found them also. Usually they do, and there will be rustled leaves, droppings, tracks, and often a few rubs around. That's the sign we're looking for and it usually causes me to start looking around for the best place to put a tree stand.

I found one such spot last week, it was a chestnut oak located along a large creek. The ground was scattered with acorns and deer droppings and I knew that this was the next best place to hunt. A few days later I was walking toward that spot in the darkness with a tree stand on my back. I was settled in my stand at 6:40 am, about thirty minutes before shooting light. My hopes were high as I just knew there would be herds of deer heading my way.

At 10 a.m., I called my buddy a few hundred yards away and we shared that neither had even seen a deer. What's with that? I found a dropping oak with deer sign and didn't see the first whitetail. I begin to re-evaluate the sign and even my sanity. That's when I begin to think about the logistics. I sat there for three hours which seems like a fairly long time. But when you think about it, that was only 13% of the day. Three hours out of 24 mean that I was not there for 21 hours of that day. The deer could have easily visited that tree the other 21 hours. And they probably did and probably at night.

After pondering that sobering logistic, I didn't feel quite as bad. I can't sit by that tree for twelve hours a day. I'll have to be content with the few hours that I can get there and hope that one whitetail will wander by when I'm there. They didn't this time, but maybe one will next time.