Alan Benton | Mossy Oak ProStaff
During Georgia’s 2017 early archery season, I saw quite a number of young bucks that would be shooter bucks next year. But I didn’t take a buck with my bow. Instead I took a doe for my freezer. However, I’m still bowhunting, although gun season has opened in Georgia.
I’ve got several small tracts of land that I only bow hunt. I have some good pictures of some nice bucks on trail cameras there. This year, plenty of food was available for the deer. Our hunting region had tons of acorns all over the places I hunt. This area had so many acorns that a hunter almost would slide around on the acorns like they were marbles.
A hurricane came through the place I hunt and knocked numbers of acorns out of the trees, just before early bow season. The deer didn’t have to move very far to feed. The deer could bed down, stand up, walk 30 yards, feed on acorns and then return to bed down again. So, our hunting area didn’t see the amount of deer movement we ordinarily would during early bow season. However, I passed up numbers of small bucks and does. We also had lots of rain during early bow season. But all in all, I’d count the 2017 early bow season in Georgia as a good year for seeing deer.
Many times bowhunters make the mistake of believing that if there’s a good acorn crop where they’re hunting, patterning deer should be easy. However, if your hunting area has a large acorn crop, just the opposite may be true. The deer don’t have to move much to find food. Under these conditions, the way to see deer is to pick a tree the deer historically have liked to feed under in an area where deer prefer to stay.
I look first for bedding places and then for acorn trees under which the deer like to feed that are closest to their bedding. Identifying those certain trees and making notes of which trees the deer like to feed under most is also information that will help you in a bad year when where you hunt has an acorn crop failure. I make notes about the deer’s favorite oak trees.
I’ve found that often deer prefer to feed under smaller white oak trees than they do larger white oak trees. I’ve also learned that if you plant sawtooth oaks, the deer usually will come to them first. Those acorns seem to be much like candy to the deer. However, the majority of the oaks on the properties I hunt are white oaks. I’ve learned that sometimes the deer like to feed under a white oak tree that may be only as big as the steering wheel on your truck. Of course, there are no absolutes in deer hunting.
I also have some white oak trees on some of my properties that are giant trees, probably 200 years old, under which the deer like to feed. What I’ve learned is that the more I know about each property I hunt, the easier I can pick out specific oak trees where the deer like to feed each year. I believe that’s one of the keys for taking bucks in my section of the U.S. I’ve also learned that many of the same bucks will show up under the same white oak trees, year after year; a fact that enables me to keep up with their size, age and antler development.
I don’t know for certain that bucks prefer a certain tree to feed under, or whether the deer in an area just like to feed on that tree. I say that because many years when that tree doesn’t produce acorns, I’ll still see the same bucks in that place, even if that preferred tree isn’t producing acorns.
Forty-one-year-old Alan Benton of McDonough, Georgia, is a 9-year veteran of the Mossy Oak ProStaff.
“Mossy Oak is more than a camo pattern. Mossy Oak is a lifestyle with which I associate,” said Benton. “I like what Mossy Oak represents. Toxey Haas, the creator of Mossy Oak, and his family are hometown people. I like the conservation organizations that Mossy Oak is a part of and supports and the charitable contributions the company makes to help people and wildlife. I feel if I’m going to put my time, effort and money into hunting, I need to be wearing the best camouflage on the market, and I believe Mossy Oak is that camouflage.”