Good hunting outlook for squirrels and deer

I glance over at the calendar and see that within two weeks, my focus is about to make a drastic change. I have been helping my wife work on flower beds in our yard and although I emerge from a couple of hours of digging and raking all tired and sweaty, it’s been rewarding. The plants will thank us for our efforts.

Kay knows she has to take advantage of my efforts in the flower beds while she can because in a couple of weeks, it’s going to be hard to entice me back to the rake and shovel. Squirrel season kicks off Saturday October 1 and she knows where my attention will be focused.

For as long as I can remember, opening day of squirrel season has found me in the woods at daylight somewhere dressed in camo and packing my squirrel gun. I may not hunt squirrels but another time or two this season but opening day is special for me.

I’ll be sharing the woods with another species of hunter because archery season for deer kicks off October 1 as well. That’s no problem because bow hunters on our hunting lease will be in one scope of woods while I’ll be in another.

One thing I do each year prior to squirrel and archery season opening is to call a wildlife biologist to assess what we can expect once we hit the woods for season opening.

The biologist answering my call this year was Kate Hasapes, who works out of the Wildlife and Fisheries office in Minden. After visiting with her, I came away feeling hopeful that conditions should be pretty rosy when I hit the woods opening morning.

“The past two years have been good years for acorn production,” said Hasapes. “For the last two years, it has been good for white oak acorns and last year, the red oaks came through with good production.”

The biologist shared some information about acorns I didn’t know, something other hunters may not be aware of.

“When white oaks flower in spring, it takes only that one year for them to develop mature acorns. On the other hand,” Hasapes noted, “red oaks bloom in spring but it takes two growing seasons for them to mature.

“With a wet spring this year and no late hard freezes to kill the blooms, we should have a good crop of white oak acorns this fall and winter. The situation with red oaks may be different.

While weather was normal two years ago, red oaks should be okay this year. Last year, however, started out okay with good rains in spring but we had a drought from July on until late fall. While the red oaks bloomed that spring, the result could be that the drought might result in smaller acorns next year.”

Okay, so squirrels should have plenty of acorns this season, which means hunters need to focus their attention on mature oaks. What might bow hunters expect when they crawl into deer stands this fall?

“The wet year we’ve had so far should be good for deer hunters. Not only will deer have access to a good crop of acorns but the plenteous moisture has kept the vegetation green, palatable and more nutritious than when conditions are dry,” she said.

This means that deer may not visit feeders as frequently as they do under dry conditions because they have plenty to eat in the woods.

I came away from my visit with the biologist dusting off my recipe for squirrel mulligan because it looks like if I concentrate on hunting the oak flats, I should have plenty for the pot fairly early. Should that happen, I promise not to complain when my wife then hands me the rake and shovel.

Glynn Harris Outdoor column is sponsored by D.C. Pawn in Minden

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