John's Journal...

Master Plans from Top Bowhunters to Take Deer

Day 2: Larry Norton Says Follow the Squirrels to Find Buck Deer

Editor’s Note: Bowhunting need not be a sport of feast or famine. To up your success rate, try this advice from some of the country’s most-consistent, detail-oriented bowmen. Why do some archers consistently take deer each season with their bows, while others who spend just as much time in the woods rarely, if ever, experience success? Let’s see how the best bowhunters in the nation produce deer. Larry Norton of Butler, Alabama, a member of HYPERLINK "" Mossy Oak’s pro staff team, guides hunters for deer and turkey at The Shed, 334-247-2444.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewBoth squirrels and deer feed on nut trees. By noticing which trees the squirrels are feeding on each week of deer season, you often can find deer under those same trees. In my home state of Alabama, red oaks and water oaks drop their acorns first for the deer and squirrels to eat. Then the white oaks lose their nuts, and finally the large white oaks, known as chestnut oaks, drop their acorns. However, water oak acorns continue to fall throughout deer season and until the end of February. I like to keep a tree log to improve my chances of arrowing a buck. To concentrate deer close enough for a bow shot, identify the first tree of each species to drop its nuts. Deer often will come from a great distance to taste the first nuts of a particular type of tree. Not only will squirrels tell you which trees drop their nuts first, but they also will knock nuts loose from the trees as they bounce around in the limbs, putting more nuts on the ground for the deer. Once I pinpoint the first nut tree of each kind in an area to drop its nuts, I’ll record its location and the date in a log book.

One of the most-critical keys to hunting nut trees is to know when to leave one kind of nut tree and when to start hunting another type of nut tree. I’ve discovered that the white oaks in my area usually begin dropping their nuts around the first of November, two weeks after the beginning of bow season and 4 to 6 weeks after the red oaks start to drop their nuts. When the white oaks turn loose of their nuts, I can hunt successfully around a white oak tree for 5 to 6 days. Most of the white oak nuts will fall off a tree within a day or two, remaining on the ground for only 5 to 7 days before the deer will eat them up. If a rain occurs during the time when the acorns are on the ground, the white oak acorn will sour and rot. A white oak tree, with its very sweet nuts, can concentrate deer and cause them to leave the red oak and water oak acorns, which are more abundant than the white oak acorns. Deer remind me of children at a picnic. Even though they may have all the food they want to eat, when the popsicle man comes around, they’ll leave that abundance of food to get the sweet treat that only is available for a short time.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewAfter hunting the white oak trees, I then hunt around chestnut oaks, which have sweet acorns that are larger in size than many others. Deer don’t have to eat as many of them as they do the water oak and red oak acorns to be satisfied. The chestnut oak seems to provide a banquet feast for the deer, whereas the water oak and the red oak are more like hors d’oeuvres. The food supply of the chestnut oak only lasts from 5 to 7 days – like the smaller white oak. If you can hunt around chestnut oaks during the time the nuts are on the ground, you will increase your odds for taking a whitetail. I’ve learned that the chestnut oak and the smaller white oaks concentrate deer better than either the red oak or the water oak. By keeping a log of the location of the trees and what date each tree drops its nuts every year, I can predict which white oak or chestnut oak trees my hunters should hunt around each week of bow season.

Jim Crumley's Secrets of Bowhunting DeerDeer and FixingsYou’ll learn more information and tips in the new Kindle eBook by John E. Phillips: “Jim Crumley's Secrets of Bowhunting Deer,” and learn many ways to prepare venison in “Deer and Fixings.” Go to, type in the names of the books and download them to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.

Tomorrow: Prepare for Bow Deer Season Carefully with Bob Foulkrod

Check back each day this week for more about "Master Plans from Top Bowhunters to Take Deer"

Day 1: Learn the Land
Day 2: Larry Norton Says Follow the Squirrels to Find Buck Deer
Day 3: Prepare for Bow Deer Season Carefully with Bob Foulkrod
Day 4: Other Ways to Have a Successful Master Plan for Bowhunting Deer
Day 5: Preparing for Bow Season with Dr. Bob Sheppard

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Entry 686, Day 2