Deer hunting in the South presents many challenges that hunters in other regions aren’t faced with. Warm weather persisting well into the fall, lack of agriculture in many areas, and snakes are a few things that Midwestern and Northeastern hunters don’t have to worry much about. But the South presents many opportunities to harvest mature whitetails. Here are a few tips to consider if you are deer hunting in the South.
One of the nice advantages to hunting in the South is your ability to be mobile because there are several trees that are suitable to use a climbing treestand with. This may not seem like a big deal if you hunt private property and hang your stands before the season starts. But being mobile is a big advantage on public ground because it allows you to scout and sit in the same evening. This tactic can be deadly on public properties because it allows you set up on the most recent sign and scout hard to reach areas where other hunters likely won’t be. Being mobile is also advantageous on private properties when you realize that a set you hung before season is just out of range of where deer are moving.
Deer have a hard time resisting natural foods such as persimmons, apples, and acorns. Soft mass such as apples and persimmons are more available early on during the archery season and can be hard to find. But if you do find them, particularly a persimmon tree, you will likely see some deer.
There are several species of oaks in the South that produce acorns throughout the fall. Finding oak trees that are producing acorns can be your ticket regardless of whether you are trying to harvest a doe to put some meat in the freezer or if you are after a mature buck. Try to key in on oaks in the white oak family. These oak trees produce acorns that contain less tannins, a substance that makes acorns less palatable to deer, than red oaks.
Being mobile greatly enhances your ability to find oaks that are dropping acorns, particularly if you are hunting properties for the first time. If you find an oak tree that is dropping acorns coupled with fresh sign, find the best tree to get into and sit tight. You will likely have some good action!
Strategic Food Plots
Although there is agriculture in some parts of the South, it’s not as plentiful as it is in the Midwest. But that can work to your advantage when thinking about food plots. If you have the ability to plant food plots on your hunting property then you have a chance to be strategic in where you place them. First, you need to pick out an area to plant a food plot. If possible, choose a spot close to a known bedding area and position the plot so you can hang a set so deer approach the plot down wind. This may mean that you need to clear some timber to have an opening, but you don’t necessarily need to have a big plot so clearing a lot of timber isn’t always necessary. It might be better to have a small plot if you are planning to hunt that area with archery gear. One thing you need to keep in mind though if you are clearing some timber, is you that you will have to plant something that may be more shade intolerant if sunlight will be limited. If done correctly, these small hidey hole plots can be deadly.
One thing most hunters don’t generally worry about are temps that reach into the 70’s during late October and November. However, this is a likely scenario if you hunt in the South. Be sure to have a plan to take care of the meat right away if you harvest an animal. You may not want to field dress your animal right away to prevent dirt and debris from getting into the cavity while dragging it out of the woods. But you also may want to dress the animal before you get to the skinning shack if temps are in the 70’s. Remember, getting the innards out and the hide off the animal is the fastest way to start cooling down the meat to prevent spoilage.
Hunting in the South can be very different then hunting in other regions but don’t be fooled. Hunting in the South is extremely productive and there are multiple opportunities to harvest mature bucks. Be sure to keep some of these tips in mind the next time you head out to the deer woods!