Hunting the October Lull | Tips and Strategies for Whitetails
We have eclipsed the halfway point of October and if you have not successfully harvested a buck yet things will only get more challenging. Late September and early October have spoiled us. Deer were plentiful and actively feeding in bean fields, large food plots, and other agricultural areas. But as the days have ticked away in October, those food sources have diminished and seemingly so have the deer in those areas. The dreaded October Lull has arrived. Do not give up, success hunting the October Lull can be had with the right strategies.
Is the October Lull Real?
This is one of the most debated whitetail questions out there. If there is a Lull or not, one thing is for sure, deer are changing their patterns. Like other times of the year, deer change their movements because of food availability, breeding, habitat changes, hunting pressure and herd dynamics. Unfortunately, all of these factors are in play this time of year. These combined factors drastically change deer movement. Few hunters adjust to these changes and thus hunting in October looks more like the deer have vanished than merely begun to change their activity.
Hunting the October Lull
(Video)- This week on Muddy TV’s Whitetail 101, web show host Bill Winke describes his experience hunting the October Lull.
Why the October Lull?
“Frustrating” cannot fully describe the last few weeks in October. Right now, deer are vanishing before our eyes including on our trail cameras. This period of time from about mid-October leading up to the onset of the rut is characterized by decreased deer activity but why?
Food, most importantly, is changing. Agricultural smorgasbords are being harvested, left with only remnants of what once was a bountiful menu, and summer food plots are starting to brown, leaving a less than palatable draw to a deer’s belly. Deer hunting strategies for October have to change with these changing food sources.
The other factor in changing deer patterns is the increased hunting pressure. Archery season usually kicks off by itself in many states but as the days get further into October other seasons, like small game and muzzleloader are opening up. Expanded hunting opportunities matched with more and more hunting pressure swells the amount of disturbance in the woods. Deer adjust to this increased and sustained pressure accordingly. Deer pressured in an area simply move.
The October Lull | Trail Cameras Weekly 3
(Video) – The third week of October could be considered the October Lull for many hunters, but slow movement is more likely due to these variables.
5 Tips for Hunting the October Lull
Hunting the October Lull successfully is about understanding why deer activity is changing. Ways to beat the October Lull mean changing up your whitetail strategies. Mature bucks can still be had this time of year with the right October Lull hunting strategies.
- Know Your Competitors and Neighbors. Mature bucks are changing patterns in part based on increased hunting pressure so understand where the pressure is and hunt somewhere else. Also know your neighbors, like adjacent farmers, and plan hunts around field harvesting, which can push an unsuspecting buck your direction.
- Stay All Day. It is tough to sit all day, but if you have a hit list buck pattern well enough from your game cameras it can be worthwhile during the October Lull. Staying all day has multiple benefits including reducing your scent, minimize entry and exit disturbance and reduce mid-day hunting pressure.
- Deer Hunting Cold Fronts. Cold fronts dictate deer movements in mid-October. Approaching cold fronts offer a more predictable time when deer activity is on the rise. Match cold fronts with other mid-October deer hunting tips for increasing your odds at a mature buck.
- Minimize Risks. If you are hunting the October Lull, minimize the risk to prime hunting times of the season. For instance, trying to find an absent buck during the October Lull can blow an opportunity during the pre-rut or the rut as that bruiser buck may leave the area altogether.
- Find Acorns. As mentioned, deer are transitioning from late-summer food sources to fall food such as acorns. This change has once full agricultural fields vacant of deer. A way to beat the October Lull is to find the acorns.
How to Hunt the October Lull
Tree Stands and Where to Put Them
Tree stands that you have scouted for and patterned deer using game cameras all summer are now becoming unproductive. Whitetails are bedding more and changing their feeding patterns, which may take them completely to a new area especially if coupled with more hunting pressure. Here are the two key spots for stands during the October Lull.
First, acorns are king. Tree stand locations should include at least one that is on a large oak flat or other area with a good crop of mast. Deer are naturally changing feeding habits to acorns to bulk up for the pending rut that is about to unfold over the next few weeks, which means bucks will be found here. Target areas like funnels, saddles and creek bottoms with healthy crops of acorns with a focus on the white oak acorn.
The second key spot is bedding areas. Again this is where your trail camera setups come into play. Early season trail camera locations for deer can provide info on where bucks are bedding and how they are getting to these areas. For this tree stand location, you need to be confident on when, where and how a buck is bedding in order to make the right stand placement and not bump him out of the area.
Trail Cameras Are Invaluable
All the mid-October deer hunting tips are for I f you do not have any idea of how deer and bucks in your hunting area are changing their movements. Just like you would earlier in the year, use your game cameras to give you a glimpse of where to hunt the October Lull. To do this effectively, you need to move game cameras. Cameras over large food plots or near bean fields are useless during mid-October. Take them to the areas outlined above and get the intel on transitioning deer and make the right decisions for hunting the Lull.
Hunting the October Lull successfully is possible. The myths about decreased deer activity can be debatable but either way deer are certainly changing their patterns starting in mid-October. That said, the same old same old hunting tactics will not get it done and will make your October Lull experience even more debilitating. It is not easy to score a mature buck in this transition period but with the right October Lull hunting strategies, tree stand placement and using trail cameras you can turn the Lull upside down and land a nice buck.