Outdoor Journal: Deer appear to prefer white oak acorns over red oak acorns


OUTDOOR JOURNAL – Trails have been opened, and possible treestand and ground have been scrutinized. Days are getting shorter, temperatures getting cooler and it is time to become more selective of a hunting spot.

One of the primary considerations is the location of oak trees and availability of acorns. It’s always been said that deer preferred white oak acorns over red oak acorns, but I never saw any scientific evidence or heard of deer making choices from an outdoor menu. Perhaps one fall, grandpa took a deer in an area replete with white oak acorns, the myth was born and was becoming gospel.

Recently, I read a few articles embracing the white oak preference theory. I decided to do some research. Grandpa was right, because the research indicates that white oaks have less tannin that gives them a sweeter taste and they are less acidic. Acorns are 6% protein, 42% carbs and 52% fats. 

Acorns tend to fall in late August and September. Hunters reported to me that the acorns appeared to be falling earlier in August this year. As long as there are nuts on the ground, you can be assured that deer will be visiting the area consistently.

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Hickory nuts are not as available as acorns. It appears that deer will go for acorns before hickory nuts. The jury is still out on hickory nuts being high on the deer preferred list.  Perhaps, the nuts are very hard and difficult for them to crush.

If you want to get a good look at some nice deer this year, set up near some white oaks with the wind in your face.

October is often thought of as the month to be hunting stands of white oak, though during a good mast year, plenty of acorns fell in September to keep deer interested. I carry a pair of good binoculars with me and scan the upper branches of oaks looking for acorns. These are the trees you want to hunt nearby. I know hunters who own land who routinely fertilize a few oak trees on their property so that these trees will produce bumper crops of acorns.


The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and Department of Environmental Conservation are reminding drivers that deer and moose become more active and are more likely to enter public roadways in the fall. Now through December, it is breeding season for deer, and the animals are more visible. According to University at Albany’s Institute for Traffic Safely Management and Research, 41% of the crashes in 2021 between deer and vehicles occurred during this three-month span. Motorists should also be on alert for moose on roadways in the Adirondacks and surrounding areas this time of year.

Decrease speed when you approach deer near roadsides. Deer can “bolt” or change direction at the last minute.


On Oct. 24, my friend Steve Zahurak of Schenectady and I met up with our guide Dan Vanderwerker of Palatine Bridge, who we hunted with last October. Dan has a dog Sadie, who helps get those turkeys up out of the bushes for us. I was set up at the top of the hill, and Steve and Dan followed the dog up towards me, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be — no turkeys. But great watching the dog in action and great to be in the woods again.

Contact Ed Noonan at [email protected].

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