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Road Map to Whitetail Rendezvouses

Utilizing Food Sources

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Effective hunters utilize a combination of various road maps to bag their bucks because they know that four driving forces – food, water, fear and sex –cause deer to move in a direction or toward a destination where a hunter can intersect with a buck. These outdoorsmen also understand that whitetails are creatures of habit using the same paths and performing the same routines every day, except when changes in the weather and the availability of food affect these routes. They are aware of the deer’s acute senses – good hearing, a keen sense of smell and sharp eyes. Although color-blind, deer can detect the slightest movement of a hunter. Here are routes to follow that will direct you to a whitetail rendezvous this winter.

Road Map #4: Discover the deer’s preferred food source in a specific place and take a stand close to that food source. One of the primary routes many hunters take follows a path to the deer’s preferreClick to enlarged food source. The whitetail needs 10 to12 pounds of food per day to satisfy himself. “Even deer within a state will have various preferred food sources,” Dr. Skip Shelton of Mississippi, comments. “That preference often is determined by the time of year and the availability of that preferred food. For instance, in my section of the South, during bow season, in the early fall, deer seem to prefer persimmons, crabapples and sloes (a type of plum). But later in the year, a deer in this same region will favor the white oak acorn. In parts of the state where no wild fruit grows, the deer’s favorite food may be something entirely different. So, the best information available to the hunter, no matter what part of the country he plans to hunt, is to find out what the preferred food is in the area he plans to hunt, during the time he wants to hunt.”Click to enlarge

Road Map #5: Determine if the preferred food source in a specific area is being utilized by the whitetails. Knowing the favorite food assures the sportsman that he’s on the right trail to deer. With the pre-trip scouting over, the hunter is ready to travel to the woods to locate this food, which may be agricultural crops, nuts, leaves and/or shrubs. When the food is found, the hunter must decide if there are deer in the area, and if they’re browsing on the food he’s located. Dale Sheffer, a Pennsylvania wildlife biologist, explains, “Hunters can look at small trees like red maple, black cherry or young oaks in our region and determine if deer are feeding on this type of browse. First, look to see if the trees and the shrubs have had their branches chewed- off. Rabbits often will utilize the same food source as deer. But rabbits will cut the small branches off squarely, as though with a Click to enlargepair of scissors. When a deer feeds on trees and shrubs, he chews and tears the ends of the branches because there are no front teeth on his top jaw. If acorns and nuts are the preferred food, a hunter has to know how to distinguish between squirrels and deer feeding on the nuts. Sometimes squirrels will chip the shells of the nuts away to get to the sweet interior meat. But deer most often will pop the nuts in half to squeeze the meat out of the shell.” The hunter may be able to see leaves nipped on shrubs like blackberry and Japanese honeysuckle. In some places, deer select crops to feed on rather than wild food. For instance, abandoned apple orchards in New York may be excellent places to find concentrations of deer, while in the West, grain fields are invaded by deer in the winter, and in the South, soybeans draw large numbers of whitetails.

Tomorrow: More Road Maps for Hunting Bucks

Check back each day this week for more about "Road Map to Whitetail Rendezvouses"

Day 1: Ambush a Buck
Day 2: Utilizing Food Sources
Day 3: More Road Maps for Hunting Bucks
Day 4: Funnel Deer to Your Hunting Spot
Day 5: Let the Does Do the Work



Entry 381, Day 2