A Lull Will Occur – Do Not Ignore It

Scott Bestul |

M2E1L0-22R348B435You don’t have to have much fade in your camo to have heard the term “October lull.” Most deer nuts recognize that September can be an excellent time to pattern and kill a great buck, and of course everyone is nuts about hunting the rut.

But that in-between phase—which usually coincides with the first few weeks of October—can be a real hair-puller. Bachelor groups have dispersed like quail coveys after a flush. Late summer feeding patterns are such a thing of the past they seem from another world. And that predictable buck, the one you could set your watch to? You got it…So totally gone you wonder if you’d dreamed him.

I know plenty of guys who simply give up on deer right now. They chase birds, get after fall fishing, or (heaven forbid) try to sneak in a last golf game. All are huge mistakes. Abandon whitetail hunting entirely now and you’ll not only miss out on some fine hunting, you’ll be playing catchup when the rut arrives. So when bucks throw you curveballs, learn to hit them. Here’s how to stay in the game when the dreaded “lull” hits.

apple_time-daves_food_plot-sept_2010*Find the food. One huge change occurring right now is the maturing of hard and soft mast food sources. Not only do bucks adore acorns, beech nuts, apples and persimmons, those foods typically grow in discreet areas (read, not the edge of a bean or alfalfa field) where deer can dine in seclusion. Devote some midday scouting hours to finding the hot food source, and you’ll be back into great hunting.

*Read the rubs: Food sources aren’t the only things that cause a buck to relocate. Social stress is another huge deal in areas with solid mature buck populations. Simply put, bucks that bump into each other often fight. Some bucks just aren’t scrappers, and those deer usually shift their core area to a spot where they’re largely alone. But the rubs and scrapes they make will reveal their new hangout, so burn some boot leather to find them.

P229-334-256-407-33h-004-09-0360-1080-0359-1079*Hunt the does: Most of us look for a doe (or multiple does) for the freezer, and this is an excellent time to capitalize. With the pressures of the rut and gun season several weeks away, does will be at their most relaxed, and as easy to hunt, as they’ll be all fall. Even more important, by staying keyed in to the favorite hangouts for does, you’ll be uber-prepared for the craziness of the rut. More than once I’ve neglected to stay current on doe family haunts, and spent the entire rut trying to figure out where all the bucks are. Not a mistake I make very often any more.


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