Finding acorns during a good year isn’t enough—you have to be able to determine if it’s from a white oak or red oak. Whitetails will eat both, but they greatly prefer white oak acorns, which have less tannin in them and are therefore less bitter.
So how can you tell? As a rule, white oak leaves have rounded lobes, while the leaves of various red oaks have pointed tips. The acorns also look different, and the easiest way to tell red oak acorns from white oak acorns is to look at the caps. The inner surface of the cap of a white oak is “hairless,” while the red oak acorn cap will appear hairy.
The tree bark is also different. A white oak’s bark is “shaggy” and the outer layers can be peeled with your fingers; a red oak’s bark is solid.