Most deer hunters scout with their eyes — either watching through binoculars, looking over trail-camera photos or actually in the woods, searching for deer sign.
But veteran hunter and wildlife photographer Brian Carroll said early October is really the time to scout with your ears.
“I had an old friend teach me to go out and stop on top of a ridge and just sit in silence, listen to the acorns falling, then go and hunt the tree that’s dropping the most acorns,” Carroll said. “If you watch deer coming out of a pine thicket to an oak ridge, they’ll turn on their radar.
“An ear will swivel to the left. An ear will swivel to the right. Then, both ears will focus. They’re listening for the sound of the 7-11 doors opening.”
Carroll said a typical afternoon hunt begins with him getting in the woods an hour or two earlier than normal, working his way to a ridge he plans to hunt, coming in on the downwind side, then finding a comfortable tree and sitting down with his back against it.
Once he pinpoints the area where he hears the most acorns falling, he’ll head in that direction, pick out a tree on the right side of the wind about 20 yards from the tree dropping the most acorns and climb up with his climbing stand.
“Some trees will be raining acorns, some are dropping acorns and some are just dripping acorns,” Carroll said. “Where you want to go is the tree where the most acorns are falling.
“That’s the place to be, because that’s where the most food and the freshest food is.”
Carroll said the key tree might change on a daily basis, because trees drop their acorns at different times and different rates.
“I might climb a different tree four days in a row — or the same tree four days in a row — and kill four deer in four afternoons,” he said. “You want to be 20 yards from an oak that’s producing the most acorns. There will be massive amounts of deer droppings on the ground around an oak that’s really dropping them instead of just dripping them.
“If the does are there, the bucks will show up, too.”