By Cody Altizer
As I sit here and write this blog (October 22nd), I can say with full confidence that I am done hunting my main piece of hunting property for October. Despite having only been out 4 times, one of which was more of a scouting session than an actual hunt, it feels a little strange to “call it quits” this early. However, with warm temperatures forecasted for the next week, and my brother and I having both arrowed mature does, letting the property rest for a good two weeks makes a lot of sense right now.
As I mentioned above I’ve only been out 4 times, but they’ve all been very productive sits. I’ve sat on both my food plots twice, and harvested an old mature doe with which I have a lot of history with on October 13th. I’ve also hunted two mornings. I usually don’t like hunting mornings much before the rut because I don’t like the idea of bumping deer off food sources, but the stand I hunted twice is right behind my house and bumping deer on the way to this stand isn’t a concern.
In those 4 sits I’ve seen 19 does and 24 fawns. Obviously, many of the does I saw were carrying twins. In fact, both the doe I shot and the doe my brother harvested had twins with them. It’s a reflection of quality habitat and healthy herd numbers. Very encouraging numbers!
Three out of the 4 hunts I’ve seen 15+ turkeys. The first bunch of turkeys I saw during one of my morning stands and figured it was momma turkey with this year’s poults. They made a terrible racket flying down off the roost at 9:00 am and many struggled with their landing. It’s currently one of the highlights of my hunting season thus far. Remarkably, they all fed on acorns at 20 yards for some 10 minutes without seeing me. My two afternoon hunts I also saw 15 hens make their way in and out of the food plot. I’m almost positive it was the same bunch both times, but it was still cool to see and helped pass the time until prime time deer movement.
I really have to nitpick to find something wrong with my hunting season so far, but hey, I’m a hunter, and so I’m a naturally good complainer. I do, however, have one serious gripe about my season thus far and that’s my success, or lack thereof, with trail cameras. They simply stopped working for me in a time that is critical on my property when it comes to capturing mature bucks on trail cameras. I moved my cameras sometime around mid-September closer to fall food sources and travel routes. Many in the same exact spots that captured multiple mature bucks at similar times last year, only to check those 3 weeks later and discover that only 2 of them had been working. To say I was frustrated would be an understatement. Further, when I called the companies of the malfunctioning cameras they gave directions over the phone, which I followed; that they ensured me would correct the problems. They did not.
I also haven’t seen one antlered buck yet this season while hunting. I have caught the few trail cameras that have been working, so I know they are there, but it is a bit strange going heading into November anxious to lay my eyes on a rack for the first time. Again, I only hunted 4 times, though, which isn’t exactly a lot of time in the field. Add to the fact that I was hunting in spots looking to arrow a doe only further explains why I went “buck-less” in October. I’m not worried; however, as I’ll ease into my buck stands once November gets here!
One of the reasons I’ll be taking off the next two weeks from my home piece of property is I will be hunting west-Central Illinois this coming weekend (October 26-28th) then heading north to film Todd Graf of Bowhunting.com for a few days. I’m psyched out of my mind for this Illinois bow hunt with my good friend Willie Urish though. We’ll be hunting a farm he purchased within the last year that has the potential to make for some great hunting opportunities. We shed hunted it (to no avail) in March, hung stands in July, and have counting down to this hunt for months. This farm hasn’t be hunted at all this year, and Willie’s done a great job keeping pressure off this farm only checking cameras every 2-3 weeks leading up to the season. It should be good!
Once I get home, however, I plan on really hitting it hard. The deer on my property are unpressured; they have plenty of food, and every reason to spend more time on my property than the neighbors. I just need to be in the right stand and make a good shot if one presents itself. The best times are ahead of us, everyone! Be safe and shoot straight! I hope everyone gets their buck!
– Cody Altizer