Several hunters have mentioned to me the lack of deer sightings around corn feeders this year. Most of them are hunting in middle Texas, on properties with lots of oak trees. The likely reason for sparse buck sightings is a bumper crop of acorns. Sometimes these acorn crops are localized. But if a property has lots of oaks, and lots of tasty acorns lying on the ground in the woods, it’s a good bet that’s where the bucks are. After all, why would deer leave the security of the timber when there’s plenty to eat, only to venture out around an automatic feeder that randomly spits out a few corn kernels?
My old friend Whit Peterman has seen this phenomenon on his family’s Fall Creek Ranch. Their ranch sits in Bosque and Hamilton counties. Although a spotlight survey conducted before the deer season showed many fine bucks on the ranch, seeing one in daylight has been difficult this season.
“The acorns are everywhere,” Whit told me. “You can’t go two feet in the woods without slipping on a carpet of acorns. We have live oaks, red oaks, and post oaks on our ranch, and all of them seem to be producing a bumper crop. I think the reason we’re having such a tough time seeing deer, and especially older bucks, this year is the abundance of food from the oak trees. The bucks randomly hit the corn feeders, but it’s mostly after dark.”
So if you’re hunting in Central Texas and can’t find a buck visiting a corn feeder, take a hike and look in the woods. If you find lots of oak trees and acorns, set up somewhere where the deer trails, deer droppings, and tracks are abundant. Bottomlands with some sort of clearing so you can see farther into the woods would be best.
Another good ambush point instead of a corn feeder would be around water, such as a windmill or stock pond.