The October Lull…fact or fiction? It’s a hot topic among deer hunters each year as mid-October brings about some painfully slow weeks of hunting in the deer woods. The “October Lull” is blamed for the disappearance of deer all across the country. We blow into the opener of bow season in September with great gusto, only to find minimal deer sightings and extremely slow deer movement just a few weeks later as October arrives. So is it really possible to kill a trophy in the month of October? The answer, absolutely! It can be done! Heck, you can kill a trophy during any month of the season. However, to get him in October, you will have to bring your A-game. It will require patient persistence. This timeframe will test you like no other time of year will. But it can be done. And the rewards will be sweeter than ever!
Focus on the Groceries
With the sex-drive of whitetail bucks still a few weeks away from kickin’ into gear, you must find the groceries to score on a good buck in October. “Hunting early October is all about food sources,” says Todd Pringnitz of Wicked Tree Gear. “I key in on acorns, any remaining green soybeans, and food plots if given the opportunity. I let my cameras do my work for me going into the beginning of the season. If I’m not seeing any bucks I want to kill, I don’t waste my time hunting and putting scent into those areas. I usually will hunt secondary farms when I’m not seeing a particular deer I’m after.”
The path to an October buck goes through his stomach. In other words, find the food source he is using and you can kill him.
My good friend and author/singer/songwriter, Steve Chapman, also believes in the power of hunting food sources during the slower days of October. “I like to key in on the white oaks that are producing a good supply of acorns in October,” says Chapman. “I’ll hang my stand nearby and intercept deer as they feed in these hot spots. If it’s a morning hunt, I’ll set up between the white oak and a field. If it’s an evening hunt, I’ll set up between the bedding area and the acorns to intercept deer as they travel to and from food sources to bed. Deer tend to feed on the acorns late in the morning and mid-day so I like to stay in my stand as long as possible. While I still hunt as much as possible during October, I’ll avoid going to the same place often. Deer are quick to pattern hunters at this time of year so I keep the pressure light on the properties I hunt and spend more time scouting, observing, and preparing for the rut.”
October’s Mid-Day Magic
You’ve probably heard guys preach about hunting mid-day during the rut simply because deer will be on the feet cruising for does all day long during this time of year. However, as Chapman mentioned, mid-day hunting during October can also be productive for a different reason. Again, hunting pressure plays a big role in deer movement during October. Deer quickly learn when you enter and exit the woods. Watch for mid-day movement and opportunities to strike on your next buck as they slip out of thickets and bedding areas to feed in the timber.
With most hunting pressure concentrated in the morning and late evenings during the early season, mid-day hunts in October can lead to more buck sightings as they move when pressure is low.
Low Impact Hunting
After a seminar a couple years ago, I had a guy approach me and share his frustration with the lack of deer activity in his area. He was bad-mouthing the October Lull and couldn’t figure out why all the deer had disappeared. “I’ve been hunting hard since opening day and the deer activity just kept getting worse and worse…and then the lull kicked in and I didn’t see any deer,” he said. In a sense, this man had created a lull in the deer activity on his property due to over-hunting when the conditions weren’t right. He paid little attention to wind direction and how he approached stand locations. His reckless pressure on the property put his deer on high alert and caused them to lay low or move off the property entirely. October Lull?
Success can be found during October if the proper steps are taken. The author (pictured here) proves that it can be done.
“The October Lull is a myth,” says Pringnitz. “Well, it’s a myth so long as you haven’t over-hunted a particular area by this point. Bucks will react to pressure, so it’s very critical to hunt new areas all the time during mid-October, and not pound your primary hunting areas. If left alone, you can kill a buck any day of the season, they will just not be moving as much or as far from their beds during this time of the year, during daylight hours. I don’t hunt my primary “rut” spots at this time of year. I focus more on the fringes and spend almost as much time observing as killing. Don’t hunt your best stuff yet! Leave those kick-butt spots completely alone until later in October. Unless of course, you know exactly where a buck is bedding and you think you can kill him. If I have a hunch on where one of my target bucks is, at any time of the year, and conditions are favorable, I won’t hesitate to move in on them.
Killing a trophy buck during the month of October can be done. Limit the pressure on your hunting properties, find the food source, and work stands tight to a big buck hideout, and you just might find yourself at full draw on your next trophy buck…even during the October Lull!
Brodie Swisher is world champion game caller, outdoor writer, and seminar speaker. Check out his website at www.thrutheseason.com.