No sight is more gratifying to a whitetail hunter than a forest raining acorns on leaves littered with hoofprints, droppings, scrapes, and rubs. But as we all know, acorn crops can be light, spotty, or nonexistent. When that happens, many hunters switch to food plots and cropfields. But you may find yourself seeing only does and small bucks there. Or what if your property is all wooded? Or maybe you simply like hunting forested land?
The answer: Hunt alternative woods foods. Some are found near natural clearings and edges; others are deep in the heart of the forest.
Here are 10 examples of woods foods that deer relish. Grab a pen, make a sketch of your property, and get out and mark their locations. When acorns are scarce, you can bet bucks will find them.
Deer consume both the fruits and leaves of these plants, which are loaded with calcium and phosphorus. Look for summer grape, muscadine, and other species in sandy or rocky soils and uplands where the vines aggressively climb trees and bushes. They can grow up to 30 feet tall; on your own land, pull vines down so deer can reach them easily.
Find an area with abundant mushrooms and you’ve pinpointed a deer diner. Rainy, damp weather makes them more abundant. They’re especially prevalent in conifer stands where shade and pine needles keep the ground moist, and along stream bottoms.
On land I hunt, this thorny vine is by far the…