For the second year in a row, nearly all of the crops are standing as we entered
the beginning of the Illinois archery season. The typical field edge setup along a cut cornfield
is not nearly as successful as years past. The key to tagging an early season whitetail is to find
where the deer are feeding. In most cases, a loaded white oak tree is your best bet.
This early in the season deer are still worried about feeding and bulking up for the quickly
approaching winter. With the use of trail cameras aided with some summer scouting, we have been able to
locate some preferred oaks that have been dropping acorns. The deer are hammering them! Unfortunately,
most of the oaks I've seen have dropped nearly all of their crop, so the window to capitalize is closing.
If you're able to locate one of these area, find a good tree on the downwind side and get there for an afternoon hunt. Morning sets in these areas are tough to pull off. Deer will be feeding there before daylight. There is a good possibility you will bump deer out of the area on your way to the stand.
Our first hunt this weekend took place in a Shingle bark oak in central Illinois. This tree is in the red
oak family which isn't as preferred as a white oak, but it is one of the only oak trees on the property we were hunting. When scouting this summer, we checked the tree and noticed an abundance of acorns. We set the stand in early August and returned the opening weekend of the bow season. After sitting for only an hour, a doe and two button bucks emerged out of the woods and walked along the standing bean field to our location. She presented an 18 yard quartering away shot and arrow hit it's mark.
The next day, we setup in a creek bottom that is loaded with an assortment of white oaks. We were on the downwid side of a 2+ acre stand of falling acorns. An hour before sunset, and giant 3.5 year old 11 pt. materialized 80 yards from our location. He began walking and feeding in our direction. He got as close as 50 yards, but then turned around and fed away toward the group of bucks he was with.
Without doing our homework in the summer and being prepared for a late harvest, we would not have enjoyed so much success on the opening weekend of the Illinois bow season. There is still time to locate theses areas, but you need to act quick. Find the acorns now and you'll be putting a tag on an early season whitetail soon after!