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Grant's Blog

Thoughts from the field

When Acorns Have Gone Bad

White-tailed deer have been eating acorns since both deer and acorns existed. Acorns are a huge amount of a deer’s diet, but there are different variables that can help you determine what type of acorn is the preferred food source. Knowing the time of year, previous rainfall, and daily temperatures can all play into making you a successful hunter this fall.

Sprouting acorns

Deer usually do not consume sprouting acorns.

Hunting acorns is a huge part of our hunting strategy here at The Proving Grounds. Grant and I spend a lot of time talking about acorns, scouting for them, observing feeding habits of other animals, and trying to understand the acorn status for our current hunting situation. Late this summer we realized that most of our oak trees had a high amount of acorns. This included both red oaks and white oaks. You can hear Grant discuss the difference in episode #139 Antlers at Dusk. In summary of that episode, we generally hunt white oaks during the early to mid season and focus more on red oaks during the late season. White oak acorns aren’t as “hardy” as red oak acorns, so during years with lots of rain and warmer temperatures acorns that have already fallen tend to start sprouting or spoil. This “spoiling” will cause the deer to stop feeding on them as heavily and the deer will transition to another food source.

What is that other food source? That could be a green food plot, soybeans, a corn field, or another area of acorns. This past week I started noticing a transition of squirrels feeding on typical White Oak acorns to post oak acorns, which are also in the white oak family, but from a different variety of tree. Post oak acorns are generally smaller and harder than a typical White Oak acorn, but the deer still love them. In southern Missouri the post oak acorns tend to fall slightly later than the typical White Oak acorns so we’ll be keeping a close eye on the post oak trees. If post oak acorns become the main food source, it will not only shift our hunting strategy, but also change which areas we hunt the most.

Knowing the preferred food source is critical to hunting success. By finding the main food source, especially this time of year, we find the does, which also means finding those rut-crazed bucks!

Get out this week and enjoy this beautiful time of year!

Daydreaming of Whitetails,

Adam

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Scouting For Blind Locations

I really enjoy scouting for locations to put blinds or stands. I like trying to figure out the ever changing puzzle of how deer are using food, cover, and water. In addition, I’m always looking for sign that indicates the habitat quality for deer and other critters. Click HERE to read the full article at Winchester.com.

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The Pre Rut

The Pre Rut occurs during late July in south Florida, September in the South Carolina coastal counties, late October/early November during most of the whitetail’s range, and late December in south Texas. No matter when it occurs, where you hunt the pre rut is a great time to deer hunt! Click HERE to read the full article at Winchester.com.

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The Biggest Buck We Have Never Hunted

Understanding a buck’s characteristics will be the deciding factor in your success or failure this fall. When the calendar changes from September to October and bucks start to shift into pre-rut phase you never know who will step in front of your camera. When that buck does make his appearance, it’s important for you to know how to plan your strategy.

Royal George is a big, ten-point hit list buck.

Royal George making his usual stop just after midnight. If his pattern doesn’t change it will be tough to harvest this buck.

Bucks that would gross score over 160” are extremely rare for us here in the Ozark Mountains of southern Missouri. So when a buck we call “Royal George” walked in front of our Reconyx camera last summer, we quickly put him at the top of our minds, but since he was only three we wanted to give him another year. George is an incredible buck, and once we got to know him, we found out one of his characteristics that helped him get so big. Looking through all the images we have of him, it’s safe to say that 95% of them are at night. The remaining 5% of pictures were taken during June when bucks are seen more regularly during daylight. Now that George has reached 4.5 years old he’s on the hit list, but there is a difference between being on the hit list and being hunted. Here is where a lot of hunters will make mistakes. Listen up! Just because a hit list buck is showing up at one of your cameras, that doesn’t mean you should be hunting him with regularity. Why should you waste time and put pressure on a buck that probably won’t step out while you’re hunting anyway? You shouldn’t. This brings us back to George who is very nocturnal. When I say very, I’m saying that every picture taken this year of George has been before or after legal shooting hours. Yes, George is living on The Proving Grounds, but he has shown no signs of moving during daylight. What does this mean? We’re not focusing our time hunting a buck that we have a very small chance of even seeing, let alone harvesting. The best approach we can have with bucks like George is to stay out. Let him experience life with little to no pressure, and hope that when the time comes for him to be searching for a receptive doe he’ll choose her over darkness. When that day comes we’ll be ready to capitalize on his decision to choose does over darkness.

One of the biggest mistakes a hunter can make is getting anxious and spending hours hunting a buck that isn’t moving during daylight. This mistake can push a buck even farther into cover and darkness. By limiting the amount of pressure on your deer herd during early season, you can reap the rewards of daylight activity when the temperatures are cool and the hit list bucks are on their feet.

Daydreaming of Whitetails,

Adam

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