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Acorns, Deer Movement, and its effects on Hunting


burmjohn
  • John Burmeister

I can't speak for everyone, however last year I could have shoveled the acorns off the ground almost everywhere on our property. Last year was quite a year for acorns in New York and I believe it had accounted for less action and movement during the hunting season, specifically bow season. Deer love acorns, and if they are dropping that is what they are going to hit first regardless of food plots and other food sources you have in the area.

If there are acorns everywhere, specifically in the area's where deer feel secure, near bedding area's and thickets why would a deer move out of those area's when they have everything they need right there? Most of the success around my area were people that had hunted near deer bedding area's. While others who did not observed minimal movement during the bow season, which was the complete opposite of previous years where their stands / blinds had a lot of action and success. Last year I observed that the deer movement basically changed overnight once those acorns started dropping. We had two trail camera’s up one on a major travel route to our two small food plots and another in the field. The deer were still hitting the fields at night, however action during the day nearly stopped on the fields once those acorns starting dropping and the one travel route became a ghost town, the trail camera was snapping a fraction of what it was before.

This year is different, I noticed a lot less acorns in the oak tree’s, and hope that this may cause some more movement during the day. Those with food plots might see the plots getting hit more frequently and earlier then last year. If you have an area's where acorns drop constantly year after year that might be the place to setup shop this year. There are a few nice white oaks where we had setup a friend to hunt during the bow season, unfortunately there was not a lot of action in this spot because the deer had way to many other places to fill up on. Something else to thing about is how has last years acorn crop effected this years deer population. I was speaking with a friend yesterday, and he is could not believe the amount of bear cubs and fawns he has seen this year, and attributes that the to the acorn crop of last year.

Acorn information:

“One ounce of dried acorn has on average 140 calories, of which 9 grams is fat, 15 grams is carbohydrate, and 2 grams is protein. Using some simple math, that means a whopping 50% (72 calories) of the caloric intake is from fat! Now you now why deer pig out on them prior to the onset of winter. But the buck doesn’t stop there.

Carbohydrates make up 43% of the caloric intake, which can also be converted and stored by a deer’s body as fat or immediately used as energy. Protein makes up just 6% of the caloric intake, but protein is not very important for adult deer at this time of year. However, growing fawns appreciate the additional protein because they need it to increase muscle mass prior to the dead of winter.” - Source: http://www.buckmanag...iled-deer-food/

The QDMA has an article “Scouting After The Harvest” which covers some great points about what to look for when inspecting an Oak tree.

“If you are inspecting an oak, do you see many acorn caps, a good indication that something has eaten the acorns? In fact, if deer are heavily using a particular oak tree, you shouldn’t find many acorns because they are eating them as fast as they fall. Obviously, signs that deer are eating the food source are important. However, the one key sign I look for and will instantly give me confidence that deer are using the area is fresh deer droppings. If old droppings are present too, I’m hanging a stand! That means that deer have been using the area consistently for a while.”

What have you noticed in your hunting area’s? Do you notice any deer movement changes during banner acorn years? How is the acorn crop this year looking as opposed to previous years?

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Couldn't agree more with your conclusions John. Last year they were getting HAMMERED. This year they're still getting hit, but since there is less (the ones that are dropping are big fat ones though) this year, they appear to be roaming a bit more. I noticed the hickory nuts crunched up real good in places too. I've moved 2 stands into big red oak areas so far, and have 2 more to move.

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Acorns or apples. or any major food source in large abundance will affect deer movement. if you can get good food 50 yards from where you sleep why would you travel a mile? Everyone seems to be happy when there a lot of acorns but really the deer travel less the same is true for banner apple years. this year acorns are down here but apples are loaded. i have an abandoned apple orchard that is about 15 acres in size ...last year 3 trees had apples hunting was easy.. sit on one of the 3 apple trees and get a deer coming to eat!! this year the entire 15 acres is loaded..deer can enter and exit anywhere to eat!! I for one am not fond of banner mast years.. id rather scout and find a few producing trees that concentrate the deer feeding / movement.

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G Man thats sound logic and I couldn't agree with you more. I couldn't believe the amount of acorns last season and the season before. Everywhere I looked there were acorns and I could count on one hand how many deer I saw. That was one theory I had for seeing so few deer. They didn't have to go anywhere to find food ! So now your saying the acorns are fewer and the apples are more ? That's music to my ears because the land I hunt just so happens to have the only apple trees I know of in that area.

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I was out wandering the farm this weekend and noticed that there are few acorns on the White Oaks. Beechnut trees are loaded, as well as the Walnut trees. I havent been over to my dads to check the apples or Red Oaks.

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You gentlemen have doneyour home work great info yes acorns

become the main staple in a deers diet during the acorn drop season.

almost being the only thing they will eat.A deers instinct drives them to

eat the most nutritious forages at the most opportune times of the yr.

I planted a oak grove of 24 trees most red and pin oaks about 20 yrs

ago then putting in a small apple grove next to it about 3 or 4 yrs later.

my finding were the deer especially the more mature does and bucks

didnt travel to far there was water close by and lots of food I notice alot

less activity in the foodplots several hundred yards away especially yrs

of really heavy acorn and apple production also in summers with less

rainfall or cooler summer nights tree and plant spikes help keep the

production numbers up some producting more fall food production.I have a

biologist friend who has studied my methods and compared them to

natural seasons and her finding were very helpful in learning how to make

the food sources produce more forage yearly keeping the deer closer and most

of all healthier yr to yr.I have taken 150 plus acres and worked it into a very

efficent ecosystem this took over 20 yrs and in a very pressured hunting area

of lower ulster county.I actually have several landowner join me and work their

respective properties to.

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Funny thing is where I hunt I do not see any of these trees... No oaks, no apple makes me wonder what the deer eat to get so fat. I'm by no means a tree expert but I have a very hard time finding main food sources in the ADK forest, most of the area I hunt is forever wild...

Any sudgestions would be greatly appriciated... I have studied oak tree's and the last trip to the ADK was looking for oaks but did not find a single one in the area I hunt. Most trees I see are some type of pine or birch or other none productive tree for deer. Any info to help find area's that might contain oaks or apple or beachnut or any other kind or forage the deer like would be helpfull... Help me O B 1 Kanobi your my only hope... Again, ANY information to help find area's that might have these type's of tree's is greatly appreciated!

Edited by NFA-ADK

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Dont forget all the ground vegetation they eat, leaves, plants, etc. I'm sure there are a ton of acorns in the dacks, maybe not immediately where you hunt ?

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what I am having a problem with this year is the standing corn. Not very many oaks in the block I hunt but the deer hav abandoned the soybean (which they do every year until the corn is gone and the snow comes) across the street from where I hunt the is about 300 acres of standing corn. I stopped the other night and the ears on the side of the raos are still moist and some stalks even still have green tinted leaves. It could be weeks before they take it down...I just know that field is probably holding every deer in teh neighorhood.

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what I am having a problem with this year is the standing corn. Not very many oaks in the block I hunt but the deer hav abandoned the soybean (which they do every year until the corn is gone and the snow comes) across the street from where I hunt the is about 300 acres of standing corn. I stopped the other night and the ears on the side of the raos are still moist and some stalks even still have green tinted leaves. It could be weeks before they take it down...I just know that field is probably holding every deer in teh neighorhood.

Me too. Ive had a ton of does and 2 bruiser bucks within range, in a shooting lane, but standing in corn. Ive been watching most of the deer travel around in the corn fields, just cant get shots at them. Im gonna spend some time on the ground in those corn fields this weekend if we get a windy day.

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Good luck, they don't seem to want to leave the corn when its still standing because they can just jump a row or two and hide. Our mountain has lots of corn this year for the first time in a decade and all of the sign is in and around the corn and no where else. Of course that area only has a few deer any way so it makes it extra hard to hunt em. I am speaking of the Richmondville area, its our big buck spot. shhhhh

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