Find the food — Find the deer

Greenfields on the edge of wood lots may see lots of deer activity as the season progresses.
Greenfields on the edge of wood lots may see lots of deer activity as the season progresses.

What whitetails are going after now

Mississippi hunters are witnessing the feeding patterns of whitetails changing with the rut quickly approaching. Most hunters pay attention to the food deer are focusing on for close-up shots during archery season. The same holds true now as the season progresses and sportsmen enter the field with firearms.

Early season greenery and soft mast are dwindling down and deer are starting to go after their favorite food — acorns. There’s still persimmon and crabapple lingering on trees, but it is very slim pickings. For a successful hunt, hunters should focus on the acorn crop ready and available on their hunting grounds.

Harder to find

Last year Mississippi had a bumper crop of acorns, one of the best many hunters have ever seen. This year, it’s a little different. The acorn crop seems to be abundant in some areas, but poor in others. It looks as if some of the trees normally dropping acorns now, are a little behind schedule.

Hunters shouldn’t assume that the old faithful stand that has always produced will do the same this season. Scout the area and look for deer sign and falling acorns.
Hunters shouldn’t assume that the old faithful stand that has always produced will do the same this season. Scout the area and look for deer sign and falling acorns.

Tracey Smith with 601 Sports in Brookhaven says, “From what I’ve seen, the pin oaks are loaded and dropping heavily. The red oaks and white oaks are sporadic. I checked some white oaks with my binoculars and they have acorns on them. There’s not much deer sign under them as opposed to last year this time — it was covered with sign. It’s hopefully coming.” Smith’s hunting property is in Franklin County.

There’s not a statewide bumper crop. Hunters will need to do a little leg work and find the acorn trees that are dropping right now in their particular area for success. A very recent Facebook poll was taken asking hunters what they’re currently seeing across the state. Here is what they said:

Acorn sightings

  • Perry County is dropping all types of acorns.
  • Union Church in Jefferson is dropping a ton of pin oaks; a few white oaks are falling with many on the limb.
  • Calhoun County has a bumper mast crop of all varieties.
  • Old River WMA isn’t seeing much hitting the ground.
  • Lowndes County white oak and water oaks are just falling with the red oaks still on the limb.
  • Lincoln County has lots of pin oaks covering the ground while white oaks that have normally fallen by this time are just starting to drop and many are loaded.
    Many areas of the state are seeing tons of pin oaks covering the ground and the deer are going after them.
    Many areas of the state are seeing tons of pin oaks covering the ground and the deer are going after them.
  • Swamp chestnut oaks had a good crop in Attala County and are starting to hit the ground.
  • Franklin County reports that white oaks are loaded and starting to fall. The deer are getting them as soon as they find them.
  • Bogue Houma Swamp is sporting tons of white oaks.
  • Coastal counties are not seeing many acorns like recent years, but the crop is fair in certain areas.
  • Northeast Mississippi hunters are finding trees loaded with white oaks and various other species of hard mast.
  • Rankin and Scott County hunters are searching hard for a decent amount of falling acorns.

Keep your eyes peeled

Many Magnolia state hunters will find success patterning deer as usual when hunting their favorite stands of hardwoods, while others won’t be as fortunate. It will take some boots on the ground and thinking outside the box to fill the freezer.

If there’s a lack of acorns on the ground, search the tree tops and see if they will be dropping late on your hunting grounds.

Western Jefferson County hunter Shane McCullough said, “I was sitting on a field surrounded by hardwoods with my son the second evening of youth season. I noticed that all the deer that came out into the 10 acre field were going to one particular spot. I scanned the edge with my binoculars and found a huge honey locust tree loaded and falling. I know where we will sit next go-round.”

Hunters shouldn’t assume that things are the same from year to year. Get out and search for the sign. Where you find the food this time of year is where you’ll find the deer.

Andy Douglas
About Andy Douglas 17 Articles
Andy Douglas is an outdoor writer and photographer from Brookhaven. A native of Lincoln County, he’s chased deer, turkeys, bass and most anything else the past 35 years. He lives the outdoor lifestyle and is passionate about sharing that with others through stories and photos.

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