October is a month full of optimism for us bowhunters. For many, it’s the start of the season and for all it’s time to get serious about making this your best year yet. What a month. It can start off with huge success as bucks are still cruising on late summer travel patterns and if the weather cooperates, cold fronts can help activate the rut ahead of schedule. Unfortunately, this month is also home to the infamous “October lull”.
Last bow season started out solid in the northeast. The weather was cool, the deer were moving on schedule and I arrowed a doe on the third day of the season in a steady rain. The freezer was filling up and my attention was only on big bucks from there on out.
The coming weeks trail cam photos seemed few and far between, the weather seemed to warm back up a bit and I hadn’t seen a buck yet. Day after day, set after set I climbed into the stand only to be left with little optimism. Could this really be the October lull setting in? I for one, was really starting to wonder.
To us deer hunters, the October lull is somewhat of a mythical phrase which describes the lowest levels of deer activity over this autumn month. The weather can be right, the wind can be perfect and yet, the deer vanish into thin air each day. But what is really happening? My view is it’s a combination of a few things.
For one, food sources are changing and therefore travel patterns will as well. Thus, banking on a trail that held deer all summer long might be a big let down the further you go into the season. It’s time to go back to your topo maps and take a second look into depressions, swamps and brush. Hanging a stand might get tough, so now is the time to get aggressive with a ground blind.
Secondly, if there is ever a time to hunt smart, rather than hard now is that time. With the rut just a few weeks away, don’t spoil your chances at a buck that can be lurking in the shadows by putting in more time and not paying attention to wind direction and contamination. Deer are aware of the fact that more hunters are in the woods and it’s important to keep your stand sets a sanctuary vs. a city filled with scent.
Lastly, now is the time that bucks are laying low, fueling up for the impending rut which is coming down the pipeline. Don’t be afraid to use estrous scents that most people are saving for the rut. Be different and be bold. If you’re the first and only “doe” in the area who is in heat, you might land yourself right in the middle of a big wandering buck.
Don’t let the lull of October get you down. Hunt smart and be bold with your choices for stand sets, scents and equipment. Remember that many people sit this time out, waiting for the rut to get back into the stand. Use this time to your advantage and send an arrow towards a monster.