By Spencer Neuharth
When bucks start to evade eyesight in October, it can be easy to give up on patterning one. Should a person hold tight and remain patient until November or be aggressive with trail cams and try to close in on one?
I reached out to Midwest Whitetail’s Bill Winke to see how he uses this scouting tool during this time of the season. He’s a proven October killer, who just laid down a monster buck with unbelievable mass. It was definitely no accident that Bill was in the right position when that buck showed up…
Q: Do trail cameras become more or less valuable in mid-October?
A: For me they are about the same in mid-October as in late September. I am still trying to find some bucks on daylight patterns, so the cameras play a big role in that.
Q: Do you make drastic changes with your cam setups during this time of year?
A: No, I don’t. I still run them in all the same places and check them at the same interval. If I am considering hunting an area, I will be sure to check the camera in that area beforehand to see if there are any shooters moving in daylight.
Q: So how often are you checking trail cameras now?
A: I check my cameras about once every two to three days.
Q: Can you give me an example of when trail cams helped you kill a mid-October buck?
A: In 2013 I shot a 7-year-old buck on October 13 that was showing daylight activity on cameras as he approached a soybean field. I wouldn’t have been able to pattern him otherwise.
Q: Are cams your most valuable scouting tool during the lull? Or is physically scouting and hunting still your best way to pattern a buck?
A: There really is no good scouting tool during the lull. But, yes, I guess so. If they aren’t moving in daylight on the cameras, it makes little sense to hunt an area because you will just run the risk of educating deer. It is better to wait until one of two things happens: daylight photos or a passing cold front.
Q: What do you think is a common misconception about running trail cams in mid-October?
A: People tend to wonder where their bucks went, when in reality they’ve been there all along. They’re just not moving in the open or in the same areas like they were in September, or will be in November.
If you’d like to learn more about Bill’s trail camera tactics, give Episode #16 of the Wired To Hunt Podcast a listen, in which Bill dives deep into his strategies for targeting and killing specific bucks.
Bill is an outdoor writer and photographer. He is also the founder of Midwest Whitetail and Chasing November, which are dedicated to his greatest passion. To get more info from Bill and to see his most recent pictures, visit midwestwhitetail.com or follow them on Facebook.