Deer love acorns. There is no disputing that fact. When the time comes for these tiny morsels to drop from the tree tops, deer will hone in on their location and engorge on them as they cover the forest floor. However, in big woods areas, hunting over these acorns can present many challenges. Though challenging, all challenges can be overcome with the proper knowledge and willpower. Follow these tips to help you find big woods hunting success.
1) Evaluate the crop
Acorn crops vary every year. Some years are over-abundant, while others are sparse. Certain trees can produce one year while others produce better the next year. In big woods situations, finding out what trees have an abundance of acorns takes some leg work. Before the acorns drop, take a walk in the woods with some binoculars. Glance into the treetops with the binoculars and see how many acorns are in each tree. Mark these trees on a map and plan to hunt around them when the acorns drop.
Once the acorns drop, look for fresh sign to determine which trees the deer are feeding under, as well the acorns themselves lying on the ground. Look for lots of turned over leaves as well as fresh droppings. This is a sure sign of a fresh feeding area.
2) Look for areas of daytime movement.
Groups of large oak trees often have a lack of cover underneath the canopy. If there is better cover available, deer may not use these open hardwoods until dark. A trail camera will help to confirm this. Getting back closer to the bedding area and into cover will increase the chance of seeing deer during daylight hours.
3) Look for funnels
Many big woods areas lack the ability to funnel deer movement. Due to large numbers of oaks, deer have many options and may not travel the same direction every day, making it a challenge to be at the right place at the right time. Seek out funnels to increase your odds of success. Look for saddles, benches, fence crossings, draw crossings, or places where the big woods get narrow between fields. Sometimes an excellent funnel is only a small strip of undergrowth and cover that runs through the middle of the woods. Large fallen trees are enough to funnel deer movement. Try to think like a deer and imagine which path would be the best to choose and safest. Deer want an easy path but also desire cover and protection.
4) Give calls and scents a try
Sometimes the best option is to break out the calls and scents and try to make the deer come to you. Keep in mind that any deer coming in to investigate a call or scent will most likely come from downwind. Try to plan your location accordingly. This tactic works best during the pre rut and rut stages.
5) Be able to adapt
The trees that draw in deer can change quickly. If it appears that the current area you are hunting has been abandoned, you may have to cover some ground and walk around to look for fresh sign. Try to get your stand set up during mid day or during inclement weather. If possible, put up several stands the previous spring, so you have several oak stands to choose from and the deer have time to adjust.
Big woods can be evaluated for areas of high success percentage just like any other area. By evaluating the terrain and given circumstances, sweet spots can be discovered. Add a good game plan to the mixture and may your hunting season be successful!