Knowing which types of acorns deer prefer during the early (from the white oak family) versus late (from the red oak family) season can be a key to hanging stands in locations that fit your hunting schedule.
White oaks have rounded leaf tips with deep rounded lobes. Red oaks have pointed leaf tips with burrs or bristles and the lobes may be jagged.
One viewer shared with us that the difference was once explained to him by this analogy: “The red man used arrows: pointed tip leaf, Red Oak. The white man used bullets: rounded point leaf, White Oak.”
White oaks are a super-attractant for deer. They can be an invaluable resource for success in early season. Deer seek and eat fresh white oak acorns. They will abandon most crop fields, food plots, etc., when fresh white oak acorns are available.
Different species of oaks produce acorns with varying quantities of tannic acid. The acid content determines the palatability of acorns, with white oak acorns generally having less acid content than acorns from red oak species. Hence deer tend to prefer acorns from white oak trees during the early portion of the fall. I tend to concentrate on white oak species during the early season. It is possible to hunt a limited resource of the best tasting acorns even among an abundant supply of acorns.
For a good technical guide to identifying white and red oaks check out: http://www.fs.fed.us/foresthealth/technology/pdfs/fieldguide.pdf
If you are more of a visual learner, I share how to identify white oaks at the GrowingDeer episode: https://www.growingdeer.tv/#/deer-hunting-see-more-deer
Great hunts begin long before climbing into the stand. Scouting and planning are key for a successful hunt. We’ll be sharing what we find when scouting acorns in coming episodes!