First of all, I would like to apologize to my readers (and my wife) for my absence. I let myself get dominated by opening day of archery season here inOklahoma. That being said, I am sure I am not the only one who is baffled by a certain situation. Where did they go?
Those of us with good food plot and supplemental feeding programs had great deer numbers – until recently. Personally, I went from approximately 500 trail cam pictures weekly to less than 100 per week. Experience has taught me that it was not a problem with food plots or supplemental feed.
No matter how great your food plots look or how much feed you put out, a deer will leave it all for a single white oak tree raining down its little fruit.
First, let’s examine the reason for this from a biological standpoint.
During the summer months, deer feed heavily on high protein forage, if available. Right about the time the bucks shed their velvet, they start thinking of the months to come. They need to fatten up and store energy needed for the rut. Their patterns change, drastically sometimes, at this point.
The green fields, where you have watched dozens of deer regularly, are now empty. They do not know when October 1st is, and they haven’t all “gone nocturnal.” They have found acorns. I like to call it “tree corn.” Corn is the only thing close to being as much of an attractant as acorns. Acorns are rich in nutrients. One ounce of dried acorn average 140 calories consisting of 9 grams of fat, 15 grams of carbs and 2 grams of protein. So, about half of their acorn diet is fat. That is what they need the most of right now. What this means is that you don’t have to pull your hair out over bucks that are suddenly gone from your beautiful, lush green fields. Just find where the “tree corn” is falling.
Now, on to the types of preferred oaks. This is going to be a brief synopsis of two main categories of oak. I will do a series later going into more detail.
Here in Oklahoma, I break it down to the red oaks and the white oaks. White oaks are the most preferred of the two. Their acorns have very low amounts of tannin, which causes a bitter taste. The leaves of the white oak have smooth, rounded lobes. The cap of the acorn covers only about ¼ of the nut. They are also longer and narrower than the red oak acorn. The white oaks mature and drop acorns every year, while red oaks produce acorns every other year. Deer do eat them, but because of the higher amounts of tannic acid, they can not eat as much. The leaves are usually larger and have pointed lobes with a little bristle at the tip. The acorns are more round and larger than that of the white oak.
So there you have it. Find the nuts and you find the deer. Hopefully I have given you a great place to start and a little bit of hope. After a few windy days, the acorns will rain down from the heavens. You would do well to locate a nice patch of white oaks and start filling the freezer.
‘til next time, Scott