Deer hunters across much of whitetail country are under attack, and not all hunters aren’t all that happy. The attacker is not bad weather, or deer diseases, or the anti-hunting crowd; it’s acorns!

Camera pics are down, hunters are no longer seeing deer on their favorite hunting plots, and deer sightings are in short supply (unless they are hunting the only oaks within miles).
Savvy deer hunters know that deer behavior in the fall is dominated by the need to feed. Big bucks are bulking up for the breeding season ahead and does and fawns are laying on the fat getting ready for winter. Acorns are loaded with fat-producing carbohydrates and about 8 percent protein, and it just so happens that across most of deer country the acorns “are on”, and the deer a scattered all over the countryside. Deer seek acorns wherever they fall and will abandon most food sources to load up these carbohydrate-rich fat producers.

The food plot that was covered with deer last week maybe almost empty this week. Food plot fever has consumed the hunting industry during the past 10 years or so. Hunters everywhere are planting plots in hopes of concentrating deer where they can be found with some degree of consistency and success. No food plots available? There always apples or persimmons or some other sort of fall food that deer crave.

Hunters have figured out most fall food sources but acorns remain the wild card. The trouble with acorns is inconsistency. You may be covered with them one year and not see another acorn for three years. One area of your property is covered in acorns, while another is almost devoid. Acorns are on one weekend and gone the next. Then they explode for a couple of years in a row and lay off for another year or two. There is just no figuring when it comes to figuring the acorn crop, no rhyme nor reason as to when the acorns will be on. Unlike most fruit trees that break out in beautiful blooms each spring, acorn flowers are easy to miss and somewhat unreliable.

Oak trees are superabundant in many areas, and when the acorns are falling, the deer
are spread out across the countryside. Unless you have the only oaks for a mile or two, the deer are extremely difficult to pattern. But take heart, they eventually get cleaned up and are super healthy food for deer. Soon enough the deer, squirrels, bears, turkeys, and such will be back in all the old places waiting for you (maybe by the end of hunting season).

If you’re in an acorn-free zone, the deer will be on the same foods they generally use all fall. If you happen to be in the middle of an acorn bumper crop zone, don’t complain too loudly, the deer will be right there vacuuming up the acorns where they found them the last time they fed.

Previous articleOctober Rut Tracker:Volume 2
Next articleDeer Food Forensics 101
Craig Dougherty
Craig Dougherty has been a staple of the hunting industry for over 35 years. He has held senior executive and board level positions with multiple archery and firearms companies, and industry organizations. He was Chairman of the Board of the Quality Deer Management Association and was instrumental in the formation of the National Deer Alliance. He has and his son Neil have published books on deer management and hunting, and have written hundreds of articles and appeared on hunting TV and at countless sportsman’s events. The pair founded NorthCountry Whitetails a deer hunting and property management company, where they manage over 300,000 acres of deer hunting property for clients across the nation. visit: