The nuts are out this fall

According to my calendar autumn arrived last Wednesday.

But maybe the trees around my house failed to read the memo, because their leaves are still green. Of course this will change and the oaks, maples and hickories in my back yard will don their fall finery of red and gold before the white of winter’s snow blankets them for winter. At least that is my hope.

One mark of autumn is the many, many nuts and acorns the trees are dropping. It is a fact that wildlife depends on an ample food source in order to survive the cold months, and the critters that eat nuts and acorns should do well this year.

Our big oak tree is dropping acorns like rain and they almost cover the drive in front of our garage. Barb keeps sweeping them up, but they keep falling even as she sweeps. At last count she had over six big buckets full of acorns, and I’ll bet there are a couple more buckets waiting to be swept up.

It might be a losing battle for us, but each time anyone drives down our drive they crush acorns, and leave a stain on the concrete. We can live with stains on the driveway, but tracking them into the house is not an option if we can help it.

So what do you do with buckets of acorns? My first thought was to take them up to my hunting area to entice the deer to come eat them for their breakfast or lunch. Even non-hunters like to watch deer so that could be an advantage. But is it legal? I sure do not want to get my readers in trouble. I also do not want the photo that comes with this column to be right next to a wildlife officer writing me a ticket for a game violation.

So I called the ODNR in Columbus to check it out. Their answer was about what I thought it would be, with restrictions about making sure you were not introducing an invasive plant species. By the size of my oak tree, I am positive it is not a new species. It might have been here before I was born. This big oak might even be happy to know that its many acorns will feed wildlife ranging from tiny chipmunks to a big bruiser of a buck deer. Squirrels will undoubtedly bury the tree’s acorns to help spread its offspring over additional lands.

Just a word of caution. Hunting deer over acorns, corn, etc. is legal, but it is illegal to bait turkeys or waterfowl. If you have any doubts do as I did and call the ODNR Division of Wildlife at 614-264-6300.

At least the acorns are small, but the big shagbark hickory is close to our house, and when it drops a few nuts on our metal roof it sounds like an artillery barrage. So far we have seen no major damage from the nuts other than my heart stopping at the loud bang on our roof, but I would not want to be hit with one.

I was once told that the most dangerous plant in Tahiti is the coconut tree. Can you imagine getting hit with a coconut dropped from 50 or so feet? I was told that islanders have been killed by dropping coconuts. Lethal coconuts might be a good reason not to move to Tahiti.

One benefit I get from writing this column is what I learn while researching every subject. Until I checked oaks in my books and on the internet I thought I knew at least a little about oak trees. It turns out that I had barely scratched the surface of knowledge about the mighty oak. I had always classified them as either black or white oak, but now I realize there are many subspecies. I was also surprised by how long some of them live.

Now that my interest is piqued I’ll continue to learn more and I hope you will do the same. Isn’t it amazing how exciting it is to learn about the world around us?


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