Do Deer Eat Acorns? How to Scout Oak Trees

Midwest Whitetail • June 07, 2023

We're here to tell you about the basics of oak trees! When we're out scouting, oak trees are one of the most important things we look for. They can pay off in a lot of different ways and so having a little bit of knowledge about them goes a long way.

The first thing to know is there are two main types of oak trees; white oaks and red oak. You can easily tell the difference because white oaks have rounded lobes on the ends on their leaves, whereas red oaks will have more pointed ends. There are many varieties of each, but those are the two main ones you're going to see out in the woods.

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Acorns are a favorite food of deer, not only because of the taste, but also because they're very high in nutritional value. Acorns have a lot of fat, carbohydrates, as well as protein. They're also very high in vitamins and minerals, which are essential to deer health. When it comes to acorns, white oaks are preferred by deer. They have a lot less tannic acid in them. Tannic acid is essentially an acidic compound which makes acorns less sweet, and less palatable for the deer. White oak acorns are by far their favorite. A lot of times they'll eat the white oaks as soon as they drop. Then, later on in the season when deer don't have quite as much food they will move on to the black oaks and red oaks.

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When it comes to the number of acorns that oak trees can produce at any given year, it depends largely on the amount of moisture that season. When it's a drier year, oak trees generally are going to produce a lot more acorns. That's a survival mechanism to produce more fruit on a drier year when things might not be going as well for the oak. However, oak will not produce bumper crops every single year. It's often every other year, every two years, or even every three years. If you have a spot that you like to hunt, year after year, it's good to take note of how abundant the acorns are to predict a fairly accurate pattern for the best years.

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You may have a specific white oak flat where there's going to be a cluster, or a single tree, and will produce that bumper crop of acorns. You'll see in that early time of year, when the acorns are all dropping, deer, turkey, and various wildlife will flock to that specific location. That's something to take note of as you get out and scout a bit later into the month. Once you discover which trees have the most acorns on them, take advantage of that. These are little food plots unto themselves that can pay off big time early on in the season.

Not only is it important to take note because of the food source aspect, but oaks are great spots to hang a stand. Later in the season, the remaining trees with leaves are your oak trees, especially pin oaks. Those can be great spots to hang a stand. Certain types of oaks, like your shingle oaks and your pin oaks, will have a lot more branches and leaves on them which will provide more cover later on in the season. Especially in November when you're hunting funnels (usually the easiest or most convenient path for deer to follow as they move from point A to point B), and in the timber.

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A little bit of knowledge goes a long way, so hopefully this information helps you. These were just some of the basics. It may not be a bad idea to get online, check out some articles about acorns, and learn a little bit more about them; it can be super beneficial in a lot of different ways. Get out there, do some scouting, and pay attention to some of these things. It may pay off big time for you in the fall!

--Midwest Whitetail