John's Journal...


Larry Norton

EDITOR’S NOTE: 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 some of the best bowhunters in the nation produce deer.

Larry Norton of Butler, Alabama, a longtime avid bowhunter guides hunters for deer and turkey each year.

Follow the Squirrels to Find the Bucks:

Both 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 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.

Keep a Tree Log:

Click to enlargeI also like to keep a tree log to improve my chances of arrowing a buck. To concentrate deer close enough for a bow shot, find 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 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 four to six weeks after the red oaks and water 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 five to six days. So, you need to study nut trees in your hunting region. Most of the white oak nuts will fall off a tree within a day or two, remaining on the ground for only five to seven 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.

Click to enlargeDeer 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. After hunting the white oak tree, I then hunt around chestnut oaks, which have sweet acorns too that are larger in size. 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 five to seven days—like the smaller white oak. If you can hunt around chestnut oaks during the time the nuts are on the ground, you drastically will increase your odds for taking a whitetail. I’ve learned the chestnut oak and the smaller white oak 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 accurately can predict which white oak or chestnut oak trees I should hunt around each week of bow season. I have enough trees in my log to insure I always have a tree to hunt.

Remember too that not all white oaks or chestnut oaks drop their nuts on the same day or even during the same week or the same month each year. If you’ll pattern the trees in your hunting area and keep a log on them, you also can pattern deer and predict where and when you can expect to find the bucks. After the white oaks and the chestnut oaks have stopped producing nuts, then I once again begin to hunt water oak acorns and shrubs like blackberry bushes and greenbrier (smilax) later in the season, especially if I’ve fertilized these plants before the season.

Click to enlargeTo learn more about bowhunting, you can buy John E. Phillips’ books, “Jim Crumley’s Secrets of Bowhunting”, “Masters’ Secrets of Bowhunting Deer”, “How to take Monster Bucks – Secrets to Finding Trophy Deer”, “The Science of Deer Hunting” and “Masters’ Secrets of Deer Hunting”. To learn more about these books, go to You can send a check or money order to Night Hawk Publications, 4112 Camp Horner Road, Birmingham, Alabama 35243, or use PayPal address .


Check back each day this week for more about THE MASTERS’ SECRETS OF BOWHUNTING

Day 1: Jim Crumley
Day 2: Larry Norton
Day 3: Bob Foulkrod
Day 4: John Demp Grace
Day 5: Dr. Robert Sheppard



Entry 321, Day 2