Mid October is just around the corner and by now most of us have had the opportunity to get in the stand a handful of times. Hopefully the early season encounters have shed some light on the whereabouts of some of your hit list bucks. However if you find yourself frustrated and not seeing the deer that you expected, there may be a number of reasons why. This time of year from approximately October 12th through October 25th can be a difficult time to hunt and is often referred to as “The October Lull.” So let’s take a look at some potential reasons you may not be seeing the big deer you hoped you would and ways that you can still find success!
In the whitetail woods, research has shown that a mature deer will be on to your stand location within 36 hours of you hunting it! Even with the best scent control you really only have two or three quality sits before you should back out and let the area cool off. Personally I have found that you can increase your odds if you only hunt a stand when the wind is perfect! If that means waiting a week or more between sits at that location it could be the determining factor. Putting too much pressure on deer is one of the top reasons why buck activity diminishes during the October Lull, so be smart about when and where you hunt.
Warm temperatures during this time of the year can also significantly suppress daytime movement. Usually if the temperature is above 70 degrees during the day most deer will stay bedded until well after dark. However, if you have access to a water source near some dense cover and the wind is right you just may be in luck!
At this time of the year food is still at the forefront of a mature bucks mind. He has had some experience with breeding and knows that having extra fat stores will give him an edge in the marathon he is about to embark upon. Preferred food sources in the Midwest this time of year are typically field corn, alfalfa, acorns and fruit trees.
Well by now you are probably thinking that’s easy, I can catch him at the edge of a crop field just before dark. Remember that this deer has made it through several hunting seasons and he may already know you are hunting him, so you have to play it smart!
You first need to identify where he is feeding by finding fresh rubs, scrapes, large tracks and droppings in a preferred staging area near a food source. Then without disturbing the area identify where he will most likely will be bedded to give him the best advantage of identifying an approaching predator.
Aerial photos and previous knowledge of the landscape work well at determining this location. Once you have the location you must pick out a tree. I suggest placing your stand as close to the staging area as possible because this is often where a mature deer will spend those last minutes of daylight before entering the field. This also allows you to position yourself far enough from where he is bedded so as to not spook him on your way in. Remember, you want to hunt him when the wind is right for him and not always for you.
Therefore hang your stand approximately 20 to 30 yards off of the main trail you expect he is using. Often times in mid October we have a lot of days with wind out of the south or southwest if temperatures are warm. If the forecast shows warm days in the forecast hang your set on the north side of the sign if at all possible. If a cold front is in store do the exact opposite.
Chances are if he is there you will only get one or two sits to get it done, so wait for the right time and get in early. If you play your cards right and stay smart, the October Lull doesn’t have to be that much of a lull at all! Personal experience has led me to believe that this time period might actually be your best time to pattern and harvest a true giant!
You guys have any other good tips for hunting the October lull? Lets hear em!