The flury of the early season is so incredibly anticipated and leaves so incredibly fast. It's hasty retreat has a nasty habitat of dragging buck sightings and trail cam pictures along with it, while ushering in the dreaded October Lull. A great deer hunting parcel is a chunk of ground that can be hunted during the entire season and not just during the rut. So before you become depressed over the lull and the lack of mature buck activity that goes along with it, consider these 3 October Lull busting strategies for maximizing your hunting activities this Fall:
1. Reduce the Hunting Pressure
For those hunters who enjoy the luxury of hunting heavily controlled large private parcels, the October lull is often a non-factor. Why? Because food sources, bedding areas and deer travel routes will still be used like clock work unless they are spoiled by hunting pressure. On parcels large enough or controlled enough to effectively eliminate the effects of hunting pressure, deer often predictably move during the hours of daylight.
A great example of this is any city or county park within the area that you live. You can experience deer herds moving at all hours of the day during October and the only difference? No hunting allowed. Another example of this is within states that feature bowseason openers that begin during the month of September. While states with a bow opener falling on October 1st experience an October Lull that actually begins in October, states with an earlier bow opener experience their October lull about a week to 10 days after their Opener - often in the month of September.
Recognizing that there is a problem is the first step to just about any recovery effort and the quick fix for the October lull is no exception; You simply need to remove the hunting pressure. Hunting without the deer knowing that they are being hunted is a key strategy to making sure that you do not fall victim to the October lull.
The best ways to remove your hunting pressure is to make sure to hunt when the weather conditions are ideal not only for deer movement, but for your movements to the particular treestand you will be using. Far too often hunters go all-in for a particular buck that they may be after, while creating October Lull like symptoms for the 3-4 weeks that follow. Less is more when it comes to maintaining a great parcel to hunt the entire season, with strategies geared towards decreasing the effects of the October Lull instead of increasing them.
2. Deer Still Feed 5 Times A Day
Regardless of the drop in activity levels, deer still need to feed 5 times per day. You can bet that if you aren't capturing daytime pictures of the deer that you are after, they are most likely not anywhere near the land that you hunt. This could mean that they have moved to their Fall range, have been relocated due to hunting pressure or what is often the case - a little bit of both.
However, if that target buck you are after is on or near the land that you hunt, you should easily be able to photograph or observe him when he moves to feed. See our trail camera placement strategies for different times of the season if you need help. If you fail to observe him within his core daily feeding movements, it rarely means that he is there but just too sneaky to be seen. Instead, if a buck seems to have vanished, it most likely is a sign that he just isn't on your land any longer.
It is easy to blame falling acorns and surrounding hunting pressure on the lack of deer sightings during the traditional timing of the October Lull. However, deer still need to feed 5 times per day, they will still move along their daily travel patterns of bedding to feeding areas and they are still a creature that focuses on variety. Often fields of greens are abandoned not because juicy acorns are raining from the sky but because those beautiful food plots have been hunter pressured.
As a forager consumed with food diversity, the last thing a whitetail wants to do is to be forced to feed exclusively on acorns all day. If hunting pressure has been announced and hammered home to the local neighborhood whitetails, then I have experienced that deer will choose reduced food diversity levels over exposing themselves to continued hunting pressure. One of the greatest tools that you can use to combat the effects of the October Lull, is to create, enhance and protect the daily food source movements of the local herd on the lands that you hunt.
3. Know Your Sit Values
Occasional morning hunting opportunities may be beneficial during the first sit or two of the year but, when the season starts to move along and the rut has yet to begin, a morning sit is often a very risky venture. While focusing on the daily feeding movements required to fill the bellies of a mature buck, there is an extremely high value that can be assigned to an afternoon hunt. That means that if you have the option to hunt both during the morning and evening hours, a priority should be placed on an evening sit. Avoiding morning sits within the same line of expected evening deer movement is a great way to make sure that you are effectively tapping into the full potential of a specific daily movement. However, choosing the right time of the day to sit during the October lull is only a part of the equation.
When the temperatures are warm and the winds are high, they both combine to virtually shut-down mature buck movement. Sure, if you are in the woods you have still have a chance to shoot a buck, but often that chance is so small if the weather conditions are poor that you are much better off saving your favorite stand for another day.
If you find a great weather conditions with calming, cold skies following a major weather front, you can bet that the target buck you are after will be moving during the daylight. By focusing on the core hotspot of mature buck activity that have discovered through your scouting or trail cam activities, you can choose a stand location designed to protect the buck's core area, as well as take advantage of the current weather conditions. By maintaining a high value of October sits, you can experience that the October Lull is really more myth than fact.
What can happen when you combine low levels of hunting pressure, protected daily feeding patterns and high value sit rotations? You will discover that the effects of October Lull can actually be flipped around on the local deer herd. This is particularily true when very few other hunters in the neighborhood may be practicing the same lull-busting techniques. The continuation of mature buck activity can become amazingly defined and consistent, even during October. Instead of falling into a mi-October funk over the lack of sightings, take comfort in the fact that by following a strict set of hunting strategies, you do not have to rely on the rut to find mature buck success.