• Apples are another early-season favorite among deer. Look for wild trees on abandoned, overgrown farmsteads. Deer will be more likely to feed in the thicker cover during daylight hours, and a few isolated trees tend to concentrate deer more so than in a manicured orchard.
• There's no question that where they occur, acorns are the whitetails favorite food. Deer prefer the sweeter, softer-hulled white oak, and will usually feed there first where both red and white oaks occur. Look for larger, older trees as they drop more nuts than the smaller trees, and have been around longer so deer remember their location and will return every year.
Another thing that will concentrate deer early in the fall is water, especially where it is scarce, and hunters can take advantage of this in several ways.
• Obviously, deer will come to water to drink. Set up on a small waterhole and be patient and ever ready as they may only visit on their way to or from feeding and they won’t linger.
• Rivers, streams, large ponds and lakes also act as obstacles, funneling deer movement. Look for constrictions and heavy trails and set up on the down-wind side.
Calling and rattling are typically considered rut hunting tactics, but they can and do work in the early season as well. You just need to be a little more conservative with both. Use soft greeting grunts, doe bleats or lost fawn bawls, and limit rattling to light tickling, which simulates modest sparring.