I spend a bunch of time each year patterning bucks at The Proving Grounds. The largest factor that makes this job easy or difficult is the size of the acorn crop. Unfortunately (even with the drought) there is a very large acorn crop developing.
Whitetails in most areas have been eating acorns as long as there have been acorns. They obviously enjoy the taste of acorns as they often abandon soybeans, etc., as soon as acorns begin to fall. Patterning deer that are feeding on acorns can be easy if you hunt where oaks are somewhat rare or limited in distribution. This would include such areas as the edge of prairies, where most of the land is in crop production, etc. However, if you hunt near swamps, mountains, etc., where oaks are the most common type of land cover, you know patterning deer during years with large acorn crops can be very challenging.
When acorns are the primary food source, bucks can literally bed and eat within yards of each other for days at a time. It’s tough to approach and hunt deer that have very limited movement between food and cover. In addition, during years with large acorn crops bucks tend to feed on acorns throughout most of the deer season. Food plots can be very unproductive stand sites until very late during the season.
With this knowledge, I’m scouting and hanging stands that allow me to approach and leave locations of acorn producing oaks with the minimum disturbance to the area.
If you live in areas with lots of oaks, I suggest you start scouting for acorns now. By scouting the tops of trees you can determine the size of the acorn crop where you hunt. If you hunt in an area where oak trees are rare, this is an easy task and great hot spots can be found relatively easily! If you hunt in areas where oak trees are the dominate type of cover, get prepared mentally for a challenging hunting season.
Growing (and hunting) Deer together,