August 25, 2000
The last time I sat down and added to this journal was a trip down memory lane (see previous journal, May 8, 2000). As I wrote, I realized that experience alone molds us into the hunters we become. It takes experience and dedication to consistently achieve success in bowhunting as well as a hunting location that has animals.
I hunt without the use of corn or any "food bait". This is not a moral issue with me, I just have had better success using what nature provides. One of the most important aspects of achieving success is knowing the area you intend to hunt. This begins with pre-season scouting. I tend to prefer to get my scouting done in August in the middle of the day to try to avoid contact with deer. I primarily scout feeding areas and pinpoint that down to mast crops. I learned a long time back that certain trees are preferred over others. Let me clarify that by saying that certain species of oaks are preferred over others. White oaks are preferred over water oaks for example. But in the areas that I hunt, most white oaks are on sparsely wooded ridges and are fed on almost exclusively at night. While the white oaks are preferred, it does little good to hunt them.
I have found an oak that satisfies deer's tastebuds as well as their need for cover. I have taken some really nice bucks and have filled my doe tags while hunting near these oaks. What is this species of oak? The lowly "overcup oak" is a magnet for foraging deer in my woods. It grows in the wettest bottoms and drops an acorn almost the size of a white oak. It grows along side the water and willow oaks which provide food for deer also.
While I certainly am not a botanist, from my experience the white oak does not produce acorns every year. I don't know if this is it's nature or due to climatic conditions (drought, etc.). I do know that overcup and water and willow oaks do drop acorns every year (they are located in bottoms with a steady water source). I hunt from this perspective. I first locate the stand that is the most productive. I take my binoculars and search stands of oaks for acorns located in dense thickets with even thicker escape routes. When I find these stands of oaks, I set my stand to the southeast side if possible, keeping in mind the approach routes of my targeted animal. I have had success in recent years by watching the route of entering does and then moving my stand to intercept any bucks that follow when the pre-rut/rut begins.
I have included photos from our recent scouting which we did August 14 in Harrison county, Texas. While scouting we bumped up 13 deer by accident in the late morning. We also ran into old "no-shoulders" or as some here in East Texas call them......." COTTONMOUTH RATTLEMOCCASIN". Watch your step Bowhunter.