Patterning Early Season Whitetails | October Deer Hunting Tips
Hunting seasons all across the country have opened up and hunters are heading to the field in hopes of having an opportunity at a target buck before the rut goes into full swing. We took a few minutes and asked some reputable hunters in the whitetail world what their keys are to finding success early and tagging an early October buck.
Mark Drury, Drury Outdoors:
Greener pastures. This is one of my favorite phases. It incorporates September 25- October 12th and is where DeerCast can be an invaluable tool. The key is to catch a cold front and to setup on a green field in the evening, or close to a bedroom on the first morning after a cold front.
It’s during this time that acorns are beginning to drop, so finding a good white oak flat to hunt can be a killer strategy for a morning sit. Other food sources deer can’t resist during this time are BioLogic’s Clover Plus and Deer Radishes. Use your most recent information (MRI) from your trail cameras to figure out where best to hunt. In the past we’ve had great luck hunting out of Muddy Box Blinds on green plots as they help contain our scent and we can place them right where they need to be.
Terry Drury, Drury Outdoors:
Early October is all about getting daytime trail camera photos. Create a green food source like BioLogic Clover Plus adjacent to a mast producing stand of white oaks, with water nearby and you’ve got a whitetail haven. While daylight bucks can be difficult to find at this phase of the season, time your hunts with a rising moon in the afternoon or evening that coincides with their normal feeding pattern or a morning when the setting moon is hanging up later and you could catch a monster heading back to bed later than normal.
James Edwards, 540 Outdoors Land Management
It may surprise you but October is my favorite time to kill big deer, second to late season and my least favorite being November. I’ve killed over half of the deer on my walls opening week of bow season. For early October its much like late season in that its all about evening hunts over food. Different then late season though is that there is more food available in early October so the deer have many more options then they do in late season when all you really have to do is having standing grain in the right spot, keep pressure out, and wait on the right wind with brutal cold. So for opening week you either have to have a very strategically placed food plot near where they like to bed (which is my favorite way to hunt opening week) or you have to do your homework with scouting to know where they are staging in the evening before dark. My favorite way to kill an opening week buck is to spend a few years getting to know him and letting him grow, then the year I want to kill him, go in and create a brand new fall food plot that he can’t resist that’s near his early October bedding location.
Joe Sir, Rizen Media:
I’ve had a decent bit of success the first week of October in years past. A lot comes down to the structure of your farm, what you are able to do food plot wise and how it hunts. For me the keys have been small secluded food plots near bedding where that I can non-intrusively monitor with trail cameras and that deer feel safe entering during daylight hours. I have a handful of plots I have designed to fit this need. Brassica plot size ranges from 1/4 to 3/4 acres on inside corners of CRP or larger ag fields. Typically, they are planted in a turnip/brassica mix so the appeal is growing towards the beginning of October when Iowa opens. Also, monitoring these plots in a low pressure way is crucial to success. For me, its a matter of conditioning the deer with how and when I check trail cameras. Every camera is checked by the use of UTV. Its less intrusive than entering on foot as it isn’t out of the norm for activity a deer is somewhat accustomed to in the Midwest. I believe that early season can provide one of the best chances to fill a tag. I look at it this way; if I’m sitting on the couch and get hungry, and chips and salsa are on the coffee table within arms reach I’m probably going to grab them. Good luck!
Bart Stanley, Team Muddy:
A well timed cold front can always get the big mature bucks on their feet earlier and going back to bed later than normal. I think you either have to have an early season food source (evening) or the food source needs to be a good distance away from the bedding area and you have to sneak into the bedroom or into a corridor of a well known bedroom early in morning. I had luck on the morning of October 4th, 2014 when I killed a nice 155” 9 point 20 minutes after first light as he was going back to a bedding area. It was a time where a nice cold front matched up on a weekend where I needed a NW wind to hunt this spot in AM.
Blake Lefler, Team Muddy:
This is a feat that really requires the stars to align, however it is one of the best times of the season to hone in on a specific buck and kill him before the craze of the rut. In October, I think using Muddy trail cameras to pattern the bedding and feeding pattern of a buck is critical. The lowest risk option is to get a good fall food source such as brassicas or clover close to the bedding area of a target buck. From there, pick days to hunt where the chances of daylight movement are statistically higher; high pressure, cold fronts specifically. The high risk option would be to identify a specific bedding area that a target buck is using, and attempt to hunt it on a morning; again choosing weather conditions that are favorable for daylight movement. Get into your stand long before grey light to be certain you can get into the area with the best chance that most deer will still be feeding. This tactic can be deadly but can also educate a buck that he is being hunted long before he becomes vulnerable to the rut. Weigh out your options before deciding if this risk is worth the reward.
Chris Dunkin, Muddy Outdoors:
Early October has turned into one of my favorite times of the year to hunt. Patterning a big buck through the use of Muddy Pro Cams is the first step. He may be hitting acorns on an oak flat, staging in a certain area before entering a large ag field, or frequenting a small food plot that you’ve planted. Regardless, the key is to find him through the use of your cameras, get him on a pattern, and then move in when the time is right. Just because the season opens on October 1st doesn’t mean that you need to hunt if the weather conditions aren’t right. The element of surprise should be on your side when you slip in to kill him, so hold your cards tight and make a move when it makes the most sense to do so.
Hopefully you can take a few of the tips above and use them to catch up with an Early-October buck. As the season rolls on, we want to wish you the best of luck. Please share your success stories and photos on our Muddy Outdoors social pages! We would love to hear about your #MuddyMoments this year, and we want to sincerely thank you for trusting in the Muddy brand.