By Mark Kenyon
The “October Lull” is upon us, that is if you actually believe in such a thing. Some say the “Lull” is a result of natural behaviors changing due to the season, others imply that the decreased action we typically see is due to increased hunting pressure, lack of leaf cover, or something else all together. Whatever the actual reason, whether natural or human caused, I think most of us can agree that on average, most hunters can expect to see a slightly lower level of deer activity during the middle of October than they saw at the very beginning of the season. So that being said, how do you go about hunting the next few days to make sure that you have the highest chance of success now, without ruining your rut hunting success in the future? Here are three ways to do just that.
1. Wait For A Cold Front: Hunting the “lull” can be a challenge, but you can make a tough situation even worse by hunting willy nilly during this timeframe. If pressure has been high in your area, bucks are already adjusting their day light behavior, so visible action is going to hard to come by on most normal days. I personally am holding off hunting now (at least in my better areas), until a cold front hits that will get these otherwise hard to see deer on their feet and moving. I’d rather hunt secondary areas, or not at all, at this point than put more pressure on mature bucks in my area, when the likeliness of encountering one is already low. That said, a cold front during this time of year can really get the action rolling, so on those days – I’ll be in the woods.
2. Hunt In Cover: If you are going to be hitting the woods this time of year, it’s important to note that because of the change in the natural environment, areas of deer activity have changed as well. Leaf cover has diminished drastically, opening up forested areas much more than before. This significantly decreases the amount of cover deer have to work with, and mature bucks begin feeling less comfortable traveling in these areas during daylight. Your most likely areas for encounters will now be closer to beds and in thicker cover. If you have a good idea of where this kind of area is, that can be accessed with the right wind and done so without spooking deer – go in and give it a shot. But again, I’d personally wait til all conditions align to allow for the best chance of daylight activity – those being wind, temperature, precipitation, etc.
3. Use Your Trail Cameras: We are in the final days before the rutting activity really picks up, in which bucks are still sticking to a somewhat recognizable travel pattern. Up until the end of October, bucks are maintaining a somewhat regular bed to feed pattern – just now it’s more after dark than before. Place your trail cameras on as many different food sources as you can, so that you can determine where your big buck is feeding after dark. Than backtrack from there via maps or your own experience, to make a best guess on where he is currently bedding and staging. Once you have this information, you can plan a set-up near cover, and wait for the right wind and weather to make your ambush.
For me, the October Lull is a time of cautious opportunity. I know that if I play it smart, I can still get a shot at a big boy. But on the other hand, if I just hunt anywhere, anytime, I could just end up putting pressure on bucks that I wouldn’t even have a chance to see during daylight. This is definitely a time to hunt smarter, rather than harder.