Forget the Red Oaks!!

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Do you hunt red oak areas?

I have no red oaks in my hunting areas.
9
9%
I have red oaks, but do not hunt near them.
2
2%
I have red oaks in my hunting areas and hunt near them.
15
15%
I have both red and white oaks, and hunt near them both.
72
70%
I admit it, I only hunt near white oaks
5
5%
 
Total votes: 103
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Singing Bridge
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Forget the Red Oaks!!

Unread postby Singing Bridge » Sat Apr 28, 2012 3:11 am

I get a real kick out of hunters that get all caught up in the “White Oaks Are Preferred” mentality to the point that they begin ignoring red oaks (and others). White oaks are choice with deer, because of the reduced acidity within the acorn… but get real! Obviously, if you only have a few oaks in your hunting area and one of them is a mature white oak that is dropping acorns you may want to focus on that tree… and thanks to the outdoor writers we all know that white oaks MAY drop acorns every year while red oaks only create “Akerns” (for my southern friends) every other year. Forget the red oaks, right?

Maybe to deer white oak acorns are like a grilled T-bone Steak, while red oak acorns are like cheeseburgers… I don’t know about you, but I’ve eaten a lot of cheeseburgers over the years! (time to start working out again!). I am fortunate in that I am able to watch deer, turkeys, squirrels and every other woodsy critter interact with both species of oak the year around. My yard is littered with mature red and white oaks. My yard has acorns in it the entire year, with countless thousands of acorns from each fall remaining behind. My hunting areas also contain a lot of both species.

Whether watching out my back window or from a tree stand while hunting, I can’t count the number of times I’ve watched deer walk under a grove of red oaks and eat acorns for five or so minutes, ambled up under a white oak or two and eat some ‘corns for a bit, while finally grabbing a few more acorns under some other reds on their way out… we all know whitetails are opportunistic feeders along their travel routes, and the idea that they won’t much a red oak acorn when white oaks are available is ludicrous! I have watched this pattern in early season, mid season, and late season… all year long, actually.

A number of years ago I spoke with a neighbor of my cabin that was going to bowhunt the same general area as I intended to. I was set up next to a swamp (bedding area) in a grove of red oaks, the neighbor set up in a couple of mature, acorn dropping white oaks about ¾ of a mile from the swamp because they were “preferred oaks”. I was on stand less than five minutes and arrowed a deer munching red oak acorns, while he never saw a deer the entire weekend (they never made it there before dark, the swamp was enormous and I did little to interfere with the overall travel patterns of the area deer).

My point… whether it is September or December, don’t get caught up in the “white oak only” trap that I see so many hunters fall into. I should add that late season red oak deer feeding can be off the charts in some of my big woods areas… unfortunately they typically show up after dark. I move toward the nearby bedding areas and hunt from there. DO NOT misunderstand me, white oaks are GREAT PLACES to hunt, but think outside the box… are there red oaks seeing daytime movement from your target buck? If there are no white oaks in an area you scouted, are you going to avoid it and try to find white oaks? If the swamp or marsh island you scout only has a couple of red oaks, are you going to look elsewhere?

What about the “red oaks” only drop acorns every other year problem? Any area with more than a “few” red oaks will have acorns, it isn’t even an issue in nearly all of my hunting areas… food for thought.

What have your experiences been? I have met many hunters that are fortunate enough to have white oaks near bedded bucks year after year, and they have no reason to hunt the reds... I wouldn't either. But what about the rest of us?


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UntouchableNess
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Re: Forget the Red Oaks!!

Unread postby UntouchableNess » Sat Apr 28, 2012 3:29 am

I'll hunt both but chose to plant white oaks. I checked the ones I planted this spring and things are looking promising.
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Re: Forget the Red Oaks!!

Unread postby jlh42581 » Sat Apr 28, 2012 3:43 am

The lack of deer and the old woods of pa makes some places I hunt like walking in a marble factory. Acorns EVERYWHERE. Youre hunting them even if you dont target them.
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Re: Forget the Red Oaks!!

Unread postby jlh42581 » Sat Apr 28, 2012 3:52 am

UntouchableNess wrote:I'll hunt both but chose to plant white oaks. I checked the ones I planted this spring and things are looking promising.


On average a white oak wont produce for 50 years.
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Re: Forget the Red Oaks!!

Unread postby dan » Sat Apr 28, 2012 4:14 am

Great post Bridge... I agree with you.
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Re: Forget the Red Oaks!!

Unread postby headgear » Sat Apr 28, 2012 4:53 am

Good stuff SB, I often find a mix of red, white, pin and burr oaks in my areas, it seems to best thing to do is hunt the oaks closest to the beds. I am sure there are some preferred trees out there I just haven't found them yet, more scouting needed as usual.
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Re: Forget the Red Oaks!!

Unread postby Dewey » Sat Apr 28, 2012 5:16 am

headgear wrote:Good stuff SB, I often find a mix of red, white, pin and burr oaks in my areas, it seems to best thing to do is hunt the oaks closest to the beds.

Right on!! Any oak near a bed especially early season is good but a single white oak on a secluded marsh island really gets me excited. I watch deer walk past red oaks to get to a single white oak but that doesn't mean I will ignore red oaks.

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Re: Forget the Red Oaks!!

Unread postby Stanley » Sat Apr 28, 2012 6:38 am

The old Oak acorn debate. Great topic by the way. If you have a savanna of white oak trees in a pasture, these are not nearly as good to hunt as white oaks in the timber with thick undergrowth. Another thing to remember the white oak acorns are the first to go and there is a reason for this; they taste better. When the whites drop their mast all creatures eat on them, squirrels, groundhogs, deer, turkeys, mice so they don't last long. The reds (pin oaks especially) are usually more abundant and produce more acorns per tree than a white. So it is almost worthless to hunt over white oaks late season the acorns are gone. When the weather gets tough (late season) and twigs and leaves are starting to be all that's left, now is the time to set up over the reds. Another thing to remember white oaks don't produce a good mast of fruit every year some years there will be no white acorns. I think the guys that are woods-wise understand when and how to hunt the oak trees. It is kind of like squirrel hunting walnut trees and hickory trees. You better be setting under a Hickory if they are producing nuts that year. After the Hickory nuts are done then sit under the walnut trees.
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Re: Forget the Red Oaks!!

Unread postby Edcyclopedia » Sat Apr 28, 2012 8:31 am

Stanley wrote:The old Oak acorn debate. Great topic by the way. If you have a savanna of white oak trees in a pasture, these are not nearly as good to hunt as white oaks in the timber with thick undergrowth. Another thing to remember the white oak acorns are the first to go and there is a reason for this; they taste better. When the whites drop their mast all creatures eat on them, squirrels, groundhogs, deer, turkeys, mice so they don't last long. The reds (pin oaks especially) are usually more abundant and produce more acorns per tree than a white. So it is almost worthless to hunt over white oaks late season the acorns are gone. When the weather gets tough (late season) and twigs and leaves are starting to be all that's left, now is the time to set up over the reds. Another thing to remember white oaks don't produce a good mast of fruit every year some years there will be no white acorns. I think the guys that are woods-wise understand when and how to hunt the oak trees. It is kind of like squirrel hunting walnut trees and hickory trees. You better be setting under a Hickory if they are producing nuts that year. After the Hickory nuts are done then sit under the walnut trees.


One of my best spots prior to getting posted by the land owner was a hillside of white oaks with thick all around it.
My most memorable morning hunt (which I have very few of - hate mornings...) was in this spot with 2 bucks and 3- Doe's heading to bed.
I arrowed a nice 8 that morning, a month later I arrowed a big Doe and three weeks after that a 6-pointer w/muzzle.
I Think the key to this area was bedding on the hillside 150 yards away...
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Re: Forget the Red Oaks!!

Unread postby Singing Bridge » Sat Apr 28, 2012 11:50 am

Edcyclopedia wrote:
One of my best spots prior to getting posted by the land owner was a hillside of white oaks with thick all around it.
My most memorable morning hunt (which I have very few of - hate mornings...) was in this spot with 2 bucks and 3- Doe's heading to bed.
I arrowed a nice 8 that morning, a month later I arrowed a big Doe and three weeks after that a 6-pointer w/muzzle.
I Think the key to this area was bedding on the hillside 150 yards away...


Now that sounds like an awesome spot! Having that bedding nearby to allow daytime movement of the bucks is a great thing to have. 8-)
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Re: Forget the Red Oaks!!

Unread postby Singing Bridge » Sat Apr 28, 2012 12:18 pm

Very informative post, Stanley- thanks for taking the time to respond.

The old Oak acorn debate. Great topic by the way. If you have a savanna of white oak trees in a pasture, these are not nearly as good to hunt as white oaks in the timber with thick undergrowth. Another thing to remember the white oak acorns are the first to go and there is a reason for this; they taste better.


Without a doubt they taste better, and are the first to go... sometimes at night. Good stuff about the "cover"oaks being better hunting, no doubt about it.

When the whites drop their mast all creatures eat on them, squirrels, groundhogs, deer, turkeys, mice so they don't last long. The reds (pin oaks especially) are usually more abundant and produce more acorns per tree than a white. So it is almost worthless to hunt over white oaks late season the acorns are gone.


Those white oak acorns go fast! When they first drop, take a look at them... they are green and even the squirrels don't show much interest. By the way, if you visited my house amongst all the red and white oaks, you would think squirrels were taking over the world! :lol: Once the white oaks drop and ripen a bit, all the creatures get pretty fired up. The red oaks are not far behind and start banging off my roof and deck...

When the weather gets tough (late season) and twigs and leaves are starting to be all that's left, now is the time to set up over the reds.


The late season is an excellent time to set up over the reds in areas with low hunting pressure. In my areas... you really need to know where the nearby bedding areas are and set up there if you have any hope of seeing a buck in the daytime. Also, in MOST of my hunting areas, you would get upset with me if I put you in a white oak in the early season... let me explain. Here in my midmichigan, northern michigan and upper peninsula big woods areas, red oaks outnumber whites a hundred to one. Sometimes a thousand to one- that's right, I said a thousand to one. Lets take a look at one of my favorite northern Michigan big woods areas, heavily pressured public land. It consists of a huge river bottom with conifer swamps running along the base. Outside the swamps ridges rise up a hundred feet or more, and there are red oaks along the base. Over the last thirty years I have found a couple of dozen white oaks in the high ground, normally a quarter of a mile or more from the heavy cover transition lines of the swamps where the heavily pressured bucks prefer to bed. The high ground contains thousands of red oaks. If I put you in a red oak near a buck bedding area along the swamp... you have a great chance of seeing a buck and shooting him while he stages out and eats red oak acorns. If you are up in the high ground in a white oak, with visibility of a hundred yards or more typically... maybe you will see some does and youngs bucks the first few days of the season... maybe not. All of the deer, the bucks included, chow under the white oaks at night. The white oaks are a tiny percentage of the overall mast crop in my areas and in order to be successful you have to monitor the red oaks near the buck bedding areas. As soon as the red oak acorns ripen the deer are on them, even with the 50 / 50 mix of red and white oaks in my yard. Hope that makes sense...

Another thing to remember white oaks don't produce a good mast of fruit every year some years there will be no white acorns. I think the guys that are woods-wise understand when and how to hunt the oak trees. It is kind of like squirrel hunting walnut trees and hickory trees. You better be setting under a Hickory if they are producing nuts that year. After the Hickory nuts are done then sit under the walnut trees.


Exactly, be near the oaks that are producing... but also be near the oaks that will see deer movement in the daytime.
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Re: Forget the Red Oaks!!

Unread postby Singing Bridge » Sat Apr 28, 2012 12:25 pm

headgear wrote:Good stuff SB, I often find a mix of red, white, pin and burr oaks in my areas, it seems to best thing to do is hunt the oaks closest to the beds. I am sure there are some preferred trees out there I just haven't found them yet, more scouting needed as usual.


Hunting the oaks that will have daytime movement is paramount. If white oaks are within that zone, they are no doubt the place to be. If not, just like you said- hit the oaks closest to the beds.
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Re: Forget the Red Oaks!!

Unread postby Stanley » Sat Apr 28, 2012 4:30 pm

Lots of good information here on the oaks and acorns. I hunt some very different areas ranging from river bottoms to hill country to ag land. All of these areas have their own personality on acorns and preferences. The river bottoms have close to a 1000 to 1 ratio on reds to whites. If you can find a white that is producing nuts it is going to get hit hard until the acorns are gone. Which is about Halloween. The food of choice then switches to ag crops corn mostly. The beans are a bigger draw in the summer until they brown out and then the deer prefer corn. The red oak (pin oak) acorns are not much of a draw at this point. There are millions of red acorns on the ground in October but other food sources are the preference. I believe this is because the red acorns have a bitter taste to them. Chomp on a couple for comparison and you will see what I'm talking about. After the crops are harvested the deer then turn their attention to the red oak acorns in the river bottoms. If you can find where the red oaks are abundant in the winter months good chance the deer will yard up close to these areas.
Some of the flat land ag ground I hunt has absolutely no red oak tress, so of course the whites are the big draw there. There are some shingle oaks but the deer definitely prefer the white oak acorns over the shingle oak acorns.
The hill country I hunt has a mix of reds (Northern red) and whites more reds than whites. The reds are not the pin oak variety but the Northern red oak variety. I believe the Northern reds are a better early fall draw than the pin oaks as the northern red oak corns are not as bitter tasting as the pin oak acorns. I don't see as much preference from white to reds in the hill areas I hunt. The whites are still the bigger draw when both species are available.
In conclusion, I agree never forget about the red acorns. Just understand/learn what happens in the geographical area you hunt and this can be much different from year to year. Also remember there are different varieties of white oaks and red oaks and there are preferences within these species. Great topic love talking about trees (oaks trees especially). Posted a picture of a mighty bur oak (white variety) on one of the properties I hunt.

Image
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Re: Forget the Red Oaks!!

Unread postby JakeJD » Sun Apr 29, 2012 1:37 am

I don't have a single oak tree of any variety on any of the multiple tracts that I hunt :cry:

Apparently, the soil around here is iron deficient. Great cropland that cannot suppport an oak.
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Re: Forget the Red Oaks!!

Unread postby Singing Bridge » Sun Apr 29, 2012 1:57 am

Great information again, Stanley. Posting and reading on the Beast gives us the opportunity to make regional comparisons, as you pointed out. It is interesting to see how the deer make utilization of the mast crops in different areas. The in- between times of the deer utilizing crops in agricultural areas, between heavily hitting the white versus the red oak acorns, is an important consideration. The big woods deer and their lack of access to agriculture have them hitting red oak acorns right away, typically. In fact, it isn't unusual for me to find white cedar in their bellies as early as late October, but especially in November... they have to utilize the food sources that they have available, they don't have a choice.


It is also interesting to see what a difference hunting pressure can make. Here in my areas of heavy pressure the white and red oaks can give you a direction for the bucks' likely destination that evening- some bucks are lucky enough to stage out close by and eat acorns... others stage and wait for nightfall before moving toward the oaks...

I have friends in low pressure states that see good buck movement in the oaks at various times throughout the season, even when the oaks are a pretty good distance away from the beds.


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