EARLY BOW HUNTING ACORN CONNECTION

Mike Bothoff of Lakeville, MN

Mike Bothoff of Lakeville, MN
Drake Wood Duck Near Dalbo, MN

Most years when I am scouting in the field I basically ignore acorns especially during the year's where they are very minimal. It is amazing how the crop yield can vary form year to year. This Fall, the acorn crop is truly phenomenal. I have seen bumper crops from La Qui Parle County to the west all the way to the arrowhead of Wisconsin. I have never seen the ground so carpeted with acorns. Most bow hunters know that the acorn is a preferred food source for deer during October and they will often overlook the massive fields of alfalfa and corn to feed on the plentiful acorns. Recently I hung a tree stand along a ridgeline in Isanti County that featured mature oak trees along a large field of standing corn. This spot looked absolutely gorgeous from the road when I first noticed it and looked even better when I walked in to scout. This "edge" also had a beautiful creek running just below the ridge. There you have it...bushels of acorns, standing corn for cover and water. This spot had all the ingredients for perfect deer habitat.

My very first night in the stand I was getting bombarded by falling acorns. The larger acorns from the white oaks hurt when they bounced off my shoulders. The smaller red acorns didn't hurt. I had a platoon of wood ducks below my stand that evening racing around the creek and chasing every dropping acorn as it landed in the water. There was good karma in the air. Just before 6:30 PM I saw the flashing white and brown ears of a mature deer coming down the cornfield edge. Coming my way was a large doe family unit with three large, mature does and one yearling. They slowly walked the standing corn edge stopping to munch on the bed of acorns. They made a ton of noise chewing on the acorns as they made their way slowly to my stand. The entire group stopped directly in one of my shooting lanes and I picked out the larger , very grey colored doe and made a perfect 8 yard shot. The doe "bucked" after the arrow impact (I love it when they do the bucking bronco kick which is a good sign of a perfect heart shot) and piled up in the standing corn about 30 yards from my stand. What a great way to start off the bow season !

This same acorn ridge has some incredible potential for great late season bow hunting. Once the resident deer have determined there is a substantial acorn source they will return well into December and dig under the snow and leaves to dig out the remaining acorns until the supply is exhausted. I recommend bow hunters re-direct their attention to acorns by reflecting on good acorn areas of the past and revisit them. I can remember at least a half dozen spots from past years that featured good acorn crops but I haven't hunted them the past few year because the oaks were not producing any acorns. Things have definitely changed.

WARM TEMPERATURES

This abnormal heat wave of the past few weeks has made for some challenging hunting action in the field. The deer are moving very minimally with absolutely no morning movement and a brief sputter at sunset. The extreme daytime temperatures have actually kept the local ducks around much later than usual. I am still bagging wood ducks from the same creeks and rivers that I hunted on opening weekend. Bluewing Teal are still abundant and still a factor heading into mid October. Doves are still available by setting up on any water you can find as things are so dry they don't have the water options they had in September.

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