October Whitetails

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October whitetails
All deer hunters anxiously await the fall deer hunting season. Throughout the winter they watch their favorite deer hunting videos to pass time. Hunter shown wearing Mathews Lost Camo.

 You’re chomping at the bit. After months of dreaming about trophy bucks, and watching your favorite deer hunting videos over and over, the deer hunting season is finally here. The temptation to dive right in and start deer hunting your best areas is like a moth’s attraction to fire. It’s almost irresistible, but it’s a fatal attraction.

October deer hunting offers opportunities, but at times it can be very tough. Rather than hitting your best tree stands with gusto and burning them out at times when they’re not very productive, take a long-term approach to the fall deer hunting season. To make the most of October deer hunting you have to understand what the deer are doing in three separate periods.

The First Week of the Fall Deer Hunting Season

When the fall deer hunting season first opens you have the rare opportunity to hunt trophy bucks when they're still on some semblance of a pattern. Through the summer they've become almost predictable, and this lifestyle carries over into the first part of the bowhunting season. The bucks will be doing some random browsing, but it’s hard to hunt a “browsing pattern”. To hunt them most successfully the first week of the season, you have to find a concentrated food source.

fall deer hunting
At the beginning of the fall deer hunting season deer still have a very predictable pattern. Look for a concentrated food source during the first week of October deer hunting.

Usually these feeding patterns are short-lived, but one deer hunter got a full two weeks of excitement out of one buck a few years back. He remains to this day one of the biggest deer he has hunted. This deer hunter first saw him feeding in a soybean field ten days before the fall deer hunting season opened, and he hunted him there for the first two weeks of the deer hunting season. He saw him in the distance three times before he finally got his shot. Then he missed. It’s a long story - as are all deer hunting stories filled with excuses – and it’s a sad one, but he leaned a few lessons. That buck was a great teacher. He showed this deer hunter that if you find a food source that’s really pulling deer and hunt it carefully you may get more than a just a couple of good deer hunts. You may even get a shot at a trophy buck.

The hottest drawing cards are generally agricultural crops, specifically legumes such as alfalfa, clover and soybeans. Deer will switch over almost exclusively to carbohydrate sources such as corn, sorghum and winter wheat later in the season. When you find a secluded field of high protein legumes you can bet a trophy buck will be there somewhere gorging himself most evenings in an effort to put on weight before the rut.

During October deer hunting you will notice that deer prefer pears and apples as their food source. Hunter shown wearing Mathews Lost Camo.

Sitting in a tree stand when apples and pears are dropping you will see bucks detour to pass these trees morning and evening, seemingly trying to grab freshly dropped bounty before other deer beat them to it. Everywhere they’re found, pears and apples are preferred food sources during this time of year.

Unfortunately, bucks don't stay relaxed for long. You've got to get them as soon as the season opens because two forces tend to work simultaneously to interrupt their lives of leisure, at the same time making them a lot harder to hunt.

First, pressure from other deer hunters and small-game hunters increases. After a summer vacation filled with peace and quiet, this invasion puts bucks on red-alert and is a sure indicator that it's time, once again, to get serious. The smart ones will become much more nocturnal as a result of the first consistent human contact.

The second force that works against you is one over which you have no control. As a buck’s testosterone level begins to rise he becomes increasingly cantankerous - eventually turning him into a hermit. Even if unpressured he’ll begin turning into Ted Kazcinski by the 10th of October. This takes him more-or-less off the market for about two weeks. But, before that happens a window of opportunity exists when bucks are still fairly visible and patternable.

October deer hunting
During the fall deer hunting season bucks don't say relaxed for long so try and get your trophy buck as soon as you can. Hunter shown wearing Mathews Lost Camo.

But, just because they can be patterned doesn't mean they're easy. Without the rut and its many distractions, bucks are primarily concerned with only one thing: staying alive. They won't tolerate any nonsense from sloppy deer hunters. If there's any reason at all for a buck to avoid a particular part of his range, he will. If they sense the slightest bit of hunting pressure, mature bucks will be out of reach - at least until the rut, and maybe for the whole season.

Strategies for feeding pattern bucks by now you should have figured out that tagging a trophy buck during the first two weeks of the fall deer hunting season depends on your ability to keep the buck from knowing he's being hunted. The same deer hunting strategy you've used effectively during the peak of the rut just won't work now. You’ve got to become ultra-sneaky.

Skip The Mornings

It may be tempting to try to hunt the buck in the morning near his feeding area, but doing so is fool’s gold. More than likely he'll realize what you're up to long before you ever get into position. You may also be able to arrow him near his bedding area in the morning, but that is a fairly high impact strategy - a tactic of last resort. You run the risk of moving him off his pattern before you can get enough information to tag him near his feeding area. Sleep in, do some work in the office, whatever, but, it's best to forget the mornings during this part of the fall deer hunting season. Or, if you simply have to get into the woods, at least deer hunt somewhere you don’t mind messing up.



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