If you’re in one of the areas of the state in which rifle season begins this month, it’s a sure bet you’re staying up late dreaming about opening day. The thought of making a quick kill is just too exciting to allow for sleep.

That’s definitely true for Port Barre’s Blake Charles, who is antsy to get in a stand and put some lead on a deer.

But there’s more to early success than just flipping a coin and climbing into a box stand on your lease.

Charles, who has killed his share of nice bucks, said there are three factors that go into deciding where he’ll be sitting when that magical morning dawn.

Food is central to each:

1) “Look for oak trees that are producing acorns,” Charles said. “White oaks are still dropping the little gold nuggets around the time rifle season starts.”

Unfortunately, not every tree that drops mast is favored by deer. So it’s important to know the signs that deer are frequenting a particular.

“ A good feed tree with fresh acorn hulls and deer scat is a sure bet for opening weekend,” Charles said.

2) If you’re lease borders some farm land, you should definitely key on game trails leading to these feeding areas.

“Agriculture fields are great for the season opener even if the crops have been harvested,” Charles said. “The farmer’s combine always leaves enough grain on the ground after harvesting to draw deer from miles around.”

There could even be more available to deer than grains and beans.

“If a soybean field has been harvested early October and good old Mother Nature is kind enough to bless us with rain, soybean grain left on the ground will start to germinate and  produce tiny, tender, fresh soybean stalks that deer absolutely love,” he said.

3) Sometimes a hunter doesn’t have access to either producing oak trees or ag fields, and that’s when green patches really play into the opening-day formula.

But Charles said you want to choose one that hasn’t been hunted on a regular basis during bow season.

“In a year when acorns are scarce, large food plots (two acres or more in size) that have had minimal hunting pressure from bow hunters are great places to catch a buck by surprise,” he said.