What are the best oak trees for deer hunting? Deer is exceptionally fond of acorns, and this knowledge can give you a unique hunting advantage. As one of the most nutrient-dense wild foods on the planet, acorns are procured from oak trees. That’s why deer hunters consider oaks the best food source that never fails to attract whitetail deer, especially during winter.
Oak is great because of its immense health benefits to wild animals, its looks, and its ability to sequestrate carbon. Unfortunately, most budding hunters do not know about these versatile trees.
Of the many types of oak trees in this country, the two most popular are white oaks and red oaks. So, without further ado, let Louisiana Landsource try to help you understand these two important trees in more detail, including how they attract deer and what type of nuts they grow.
1. White Oaks (Quercus alba)
White oaks enjoy an unmatched reputation among hunters in North America. These are commonly found in the central parts and east of the country, eastern Texas, and northern Florida. You can even find white oaks in Canada. On average, they are 70 – 90 feet in height and have a life of 200+ years.
White oaks achieve their sexual maturity when they’re about 20 years old. However, they only start producing large acorn crops when nearing their 50th year. White oaks have their signature rounded leaves, contrary to red oak’s serrated leaves though some species of these two trees can be alike. Acorns produced by white oaks have a lesser amount of tannin present in their nuts as compared to red oak species. Less tannin content makes white oak acorns more edible to wildlife, including deer. The large, delicious acorns are usually produced by burr oak and east coast white oaks.
2. Red Oaks (Quercus rubra)
In general, the leaves of red oaks have pointed or sharp lobes. But some types have a rounded appearance. Like pin oaks and black oaks, red oaks have pointed leaves. These stunning trees are commonly found in the eastern U.S. and are renowned for their incredibly beautiful fall foliage. Another awesome fact about red oaks is their exceptionally long lifespan. They have a life of anywhere between 150 and 250 years and can grow as high as 75 feet on average.
Red oaks don’t have a good reputation among seasoned hunters mainly because of their relatively bitter acorns. When it comes to the sweetest acorns, pin oaks are undisputable.
When searching for food, deer usually eat any acorn they can find, but during mast years, they usually ignore red oak acorns and prefer the delicious whites. If you can find the differences quickly, you can make better hunting decisions depending on the location and presence of red oaks.
Deer and Acorns
Mother Nature makes acorns available in bountiful around October (early rut phase). This is when the deer search for high-protein foods, and nature doesn’t disappoint them. To deal with the harsh winter months, acorns falling from oak trees are usually scattered everywhere at this time of the year.
White oak acorns are generally dropped before the red ones. This makes it the ideal time for setting up near the cluster of white oak trees for early bowhunting season. The perfect locations are the routes leading to the feeding areas.
Red oak nuts usually have a longer lifespan on the ground because of their higher tannin content, an all-natural preservative. On the other hand, due to less tannin content in white oaks, deer generally consume them quickly. White oak nuts can deteriorate much faster. So they have fewer chances of any natural germination.
As mentioned before, acorns from red oak trees have a longer life on the ground. So, they can also become weathered over time, which reduces their tannin content significantly. Never overlook the red oaks because most deer will still eat their acorns. However, they may not specifically look for red oak acorns sometimes until the later part of the season. For this reason, these acorns are sometimes called “rut nuts.”
At the end of the day, it all boils down to factors like the availability of other food sources, time of the year, and weather conditions that will determine how the deer population in your area will treat the acorns. However, they will surely eat at least some because the fact is that the deer and other wildlife love them. And this gives you one more reason to include oaks in your hunting strategy this season.