There is no doubt that most bucks seem to have fallen off the face of the Earth come the middle of October, as compared to their high visibility just a few weeks earlier. The biggest reason is that instead of feeding in the wide open, they’re now deep in the woods, feeding on hard mast and browse. Take some time to scout for what they’re eating and set up on a bed to feed pattern.
Besides pattering whitetails and what they’re eating, there is another advantage that can be used for hunting during the lockdown. It’s such a hit-and-miss tactic that it can feel impossible to master, but if a hunter can be in the right place at the right time, and with a little luck, one can take advantage of some early estrous does.
Around October 15, hunters may witness an “early rut” when a handful of mature does come into estrus. It will be a quick flash in the pan. A hunter might be hunting where there is a “hot” doe, and chances are that it will only be one doe that has come into estrus, and she probably has several bucks chasing after her as she is the first doe to come in to estrous.
Hunting weather remains one of the best scenarios for capitalizing on early season movements based on cold fronts and subtle changes in October weather. With the first big cold fronts sweeping the country this weekend brings the increasing indications of rising testosterone with ravaged scrapes and big rubs seemingly appearing overnight. All the hunting apps are predicting spikes in deer movement with increasing pressure systems and cold fronts moving across much of the US and Canada. While the cold fronts pass on Monday and Tuesday of next week, the moon phases will line back up with evening peak feeding times starting on the 17th, leading way to some solid opportunities for those able to get out early in the week for an evening sit.
Food is still key, but many doe groups have shifted from lush green to higher carb foods such as Acorns, Combined Corn Fields and Standing or Combined Beans. Hunting doe bedding areas and pinches are key now as you may catch a cruising buck looking for the first available does on your hunting area.
If you want to kill an October buck from the October lull until the rut begins, focus on the food. Not only are the deer putting on weight for the upcoming rut, but also for a long winter. A buck can lose as much as 25-percent of his body fat during the rut. Even a healthy buck that is not prepared will suffer and could even die. For that reason, it is not likely to find a buck walking about aimlessly, but instead at a food source close to last light. Apples, acorns, turnips and even persimmons are a favorite food in the forest during mid-October. Deer will be searching for foods like those that provide lots of energy through their carbs.
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