Written By: Jason Brenic | Legendary Whitetails Ambassador
As avid deer hunters, we dread these two words.
By now, mature bucks grazing in open fields are but a fleeting memory and there is only one thing that stands between us and chasing the buck of a lifetime during Sweet November.
Yes, folks, that’s right, we are talking about the highly despised October Lull.
In this article, we will review why the October Lull is actually FACT for many and FICTION for few. Additionally, we will talk about how, as hunters, we can put ourselves in a better position to kill a mature buck during this challenging time of the season.
The “October Lull” used to be a reality for me as it is for many hunters, but then I started to think outside of the box after reading several articles on October Lull Theories. When you take some time to think about it, the problems and the solutions related to the October Lull are fairly simple. Studies have shown that buck activity steadily increases from the beginning of October through the Rut. As hunters, we need to put ourselves in the right place and more importantly, be there at the right time if we want to capitalize.
Food sources are rapidly changing as time progresses later into October. Alfalfa is now cut or browning, beans are being harvested and acorns are nature’s dinner bell as they drop from towering oaks. Deer’s forage preferences follow the changing seasons, fields that were once abound with big bucks are now seemingly void of any buck activity. Deer are seeking new forage and it’s your job to find out where and how to hunt them.
Problem # 2
Mature bucks have been mostly untouched for the summer short of the careful time spent hanging stands or checking cameras. They now have a new level of hunting pressure and intrusion into their core area. This pressure will inherently cause those mature bucks to shift their behavior – don’t be fooled into thinking it doesn’t. This is the trying moment when your target bucks have started to pattern you rather than you patterning them. You may be wondering – what could possibly be the solution to a problem that is caused by something as simple as your very physical presence?
The first answer to both of the problems discussed above is the same. Spend MORE time learning the property so that you hunt at the right times. Whether it’s public land that you just stumbled upon or private land that you’ve been hunting for 20 years, you got it, spend more time physically walking and scouting out the terrain. Often time this requires additional time and work. Ask any serious bowhunter what they do in their offseason. Odds are they are scouting – locating bedding, secondary food sources, water, and transition areas. While aerial maps, hunting apps, and computer scouting are all helpful, there is something to be said about putting your boots on the ground. By engaging in this practice, you will better understand where the mature bucks tend to venture off to when the hunting pressure starts to increase and the primary forage starts to change. Now, contradictory to the first bit of advice regarding hunting pressure – if you find a piece of land you want to hunt – let’s say the first week of October, you have to investigate. Be stealthy, be scent free, make the wind work to your advantage and take a stroll through that piece of land. If you jump a deer simply drop to the ground, with any luck they didn’t see exactly what you were or smell you. Get in and get out and implement your hunting strategy. Often times these late finds can be the hottest areas to hunt. Hey, no one ever said this was going to be easy.
The second answer to the problem lies within our own actions and decisions on how and when we hunt. By the second week of October mature bucks have usually had an encounter or two with a hunter by sight, scent, sound or all of the above. It’s likely that any buck that was spooked has vacated their primary area in search of sanctuary. You don’t want to risk bumping them again just before the Rut gets going otherwise you’ll have to put up with your neighbor bragging about shooting YOUR target buck.
You’ve put in the time, you’ve scouted, scouted, and scouted some more. Now, STAY OUT of your best hunting areas until the timing is right. Before you go hunt in those awesome honey holes that you’ve located, take a moment to look at the wind, temperature, barometer, etc. While it may feel good to be in the stand at every opportunity, you’re taking a big risk in educating those mature bucks every time you enter or exit your stand location. Often times this is why hunting fresh sign for the first time can be your best bet in killing a mature buck.
Scout HARD, Hunt SMART – see if you can’t just change your October Lull from Fact to Fiction.