HUNT NEAR IRRESISTIBLE FRUIT TREES TO BAG YOUR NEXT WHITETAIL
Hunt near irresistible fruit trees to bag your next whitetail
Every step was carefully placed with all attention focused on getting closer, undetected, for a high-percentage shot with the longbow in my hand. With each step, my excitement surged full-throttle. I could feel my heart pounding swiftly as the moment’s intensity grew.
My prey was feeding in the shade of a large persimmon tree, totally unaware of my presence. As the bowstring came back to my anchor point, my wooden arrow departed perfectly. The shot was clean, resulting in a quick kill. It was my first deer with a longbow!
Fruit trees are a whitetail’s weak spot, and you can exploit that weakness this fall and fill your freezer with precious red meat.
Persimmons are Money Spots
In Arkansas, where I live, a whitetail’s life revolves around the mast crop consisting of many oak varieties. But, in most years, the acorn drop happens a little later than the persimmons, making this early-bearing fruit tree a deer hotspot. The sweet fruit draws both does and fawns, as well as bachelor groups of bucks, daily until the acorns begin to fall.
Early-season whitetail hunting can be as exciting as the November rut, but only if you play your cards right and do some pre-season scouting. Unlike the rut-crazed bucks that you deal with later in fall, early-season whitetails have but one thing on their minds: food. Food
sources are, at times, difficult to identify. But, I can help straighten the learning curve.
I’ve been blessed to hunt the same persimmon tree on my parent’s farm for more than 40 years now. In that time, it has produced more early-season deer for my dad and me than you could ever imagine. The tree is located in a perfectly formed funnel where a farm road and two fence corners meet. But, the special thing about this tree is that it’s an American persimmon, which, during the 40-plus years that I’ve hunted it, failed to produce fruit only one year.
“A quality fertilizer mix … will make your fruit tree the most alluring in the area for miles …”
Exploit the Predictability
If left undisturbed, early-season deer are as predictable as tax season; you can almost set your clock by their daily movements. With some game cameras placed in a few well-scouted areas, you can track these patterns and formulate a solid opening-day plan. Be sure to consider prevailing winds when strategizing ambush locations, always hunting on the downwind side of where deer travel and feed.
Oftentimes, deer will visit persimmon trees religiously and at the same time each day because they feel safe and undisturbed. Don’t wreck that pattern by hanging a stand and dispersing scent one week before season. Instead, do it in winter or spring. Why?
Persimmons aren’t dropping fruit during this time, so you can go in without pestering the deer and do your work, then return months later to hunt undisturbed deer on opening day. When setting up ambushes, be sure to trim shooting lanes.
Predictability is the aspect I love most about early-season hunting. Deer haven’t experienced weeks of hunting pressure. All you must do is learn when persimmon trees start producing the fruit that draws them year after year. Mature does know every tree in the area, and will train their young in their uses. Bachelor groups of bucks also visit persimmon trees, and I prefer to target them, although a fine-eating doe is hard to pass up.
Access is Key
When targeting a specific persimmon tree to hunt, I always consider stand access. Oftentimes, easy-access trees are located on farms that have daily chores/activities where human scent abounds, unlike a wilderness-type setup. Nevertheless, you still must approach carefully when you hunt. The weather is often very warm in the early days of archery season, and you want to leave an area as undisturbed by human scent as possible. If you have to fight through brush and walk long distances to access a stand, you’ll surely cause commotion and contaminate the area with excess human scent. This will likely change their pattern, making them unpredictable.
Pears, Another Solid Bet
Pear trees located on farms and abandoned homesteads are also common in my area, and are equally as productive as persimmons. Apple trees might be available in your area, too. Really, any fruit-bearing tree can be
“My prey was feeding in the shade of a large persimmon tree, totally unaware of my presence.”
dynamite in early season, and you must capitalize when the fruit is ripe and dropping. These few weeks can be outstanding, but you must get out there, regardless of heat and insects.
When the Fruit Drops Late
So far, we’ve primarily addressed early-season hunting, but if you locate a tree that’s producing fruit and drawing deer later in the season as the rut approaches, does and fawns will likely be regulars, and soon the mature bucks will scent-check the area downwind of the fruit tree for a hot doe. At this time, anything can happen. You may even encounter a buck you didn’t know existed.
Of course, bucks aren’t as predictable during the pre-rut, but they’ll be there sooner or later. You might not be on stand when he comes by checking, and he might never return. That’s why you must seize every opportunity to hunt fruit trees while they’re producing.
Persimmons draw deer like magnets. Hunt near a persimmon tree when the fruit is ripe and get ready for the action.
Although most deer populations rely on mast like the acorns dropped from oak trees, they enjoy sweet, ripe fruit and will go out of their way to frequent any trees dropping produce in their area.
Yancey happily arrowed this doe for the freezer while hunting near an old, reliable persimmon tree.
PHOTO BY MIKE YANCEY