Finding mature bucks on public land can be one of the most challenging endeavors anybody could engage in and sometimes it can make you question your overall hunting abilities. We plan all off season and set stands early with high hopes that when October comes around, we’ll be seeing giant antlered deer ambling past us almost constantly as we sit on stand. The reality hits about a couple weeks into the season when after sitting on stand for hours, you have yet to see a deer.
Although it would be easy to question your off season scouting, it’s not time to panic just yet. The October “lull”, as some call it, is the time of year that bucks start to change their patterns and switch food sources. They go from summer patterns, where they are feeding on beans and other agricultural food sources, to really hitting the acorns and other tree nuts, hard. This accompanied by the bucks starting to leave their bachelor groups and becoming more of a solitary animal, makes hunters scratch their heads and wonder where the deer have gone.
The truth is the deer haven’t gone anywhere (almost literally). With the abundance of food close to their bedding area, deer will only have to take a few steps to eat and lay back down. Because the woods are still green and lush, deer feel comfortable and relaxed and don’t feel the need to venture anywhere and risk running into predators.
This is what makes hunting hard in October, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. We just need to move in a little closer to the bedding area. This in itself creates a list of obstacles, which means we will have to pay close attention to small details in order to not spook the deer. The first of these is to make sure you only hunt an area with the wind in your favor. Don’t go sneaking up to a known bedding area with the wind blowing your scent into their beds, make sure the wind is in your face and use as much of your prefered scent control product as you can afford.
Another tip for moving in closer is to wait on a rainy day to go. The rain will wash away your scent and your will make far less noise. This weekend I had the opportunity to hunt both Saturday and Sunday. After not seeing anything on Saturday, the forecast for Sunday was rain. With the rain moving in I figured it would be a perfect time to move my stand. What I thought would be a light rain, turned into an all out gully-washer. I didn’t bring any rain gear and became soaked to my underwear. But that being said, I had the opportunity to move in on an area and set my ground blind up with very little encroachment of the deer. I will be sitting in that setup this Saturday afternoon and Sunday has a good chance of being the first morning sit of the year. Stay tuned……..