It is often surprising to see how many hunters dislike hunting Whitetail Deer in October and will skip it all together while they wait for November.
The first three weeks of the month can be a bit slow as far as deer sightings go, but that does not mean October hunting is a lost cause.
Ask any veteran bowhunter who has harvested plenty of big bucks, and you would see that many of their whitetail deer will have been arrowed from early to mid-October. You might think they have a secret technique or have an amazing deer lease locked up that is loaded with big bucks and no other hunting competition.
Neither of these would be true.
The reality is that putting in the time and effort to prepare to hunt during the month of October can produce big, mature deer while other hunters are literally sitting on the sidelines.
Why hunt in October?
A large number of bow hunters will take the month of October off. Few hunters take this month seriously, and often you may have the entire woods to yourself. This makes the month of October one of the best times to hunt because there is so little pressure on the deer.
Another great thing about this month is the predictability of the deer. October is a lull time for most bucks, as food is abundant, and their bedding areas are mostly undisturbed. Their patterns will be much more predictable, such as rising late afternoon to do things like make a few rubs or sniff a scrape, then make their way towards a food source.
A mature buck might arrive at this food source with a half hour or so of daylight left. While he will most likely hang out just inside the woods until it is almost dark before exposing himself in the wide-open, a dedicated hunter can have a perfect opportunity to harvest him after setting up just inside the woods.
This is just one of the many strategies that a hunter can use to succeed during the month of October, but there are many more tips and tricks to make the most out of this time of the year.
October Whitetail Deer hunting strategies
One of the first tips that successful October hunters will tell you is to be as mobile as possible. This usually entails using a climbing treestand that can be easily deployed at a moment’s notice. You want to figure out what the deer are doing, and by covering new ground, a climbing tree stand is going to be your best friend.
Learn to use your climbing tree stand as quietly as possible, and carry a saw to cut any limbs or branches that are in your way. Scouting and recon is the name of the game during early October, so along with your climber, a good set of trail cameras can help immensely.
With your trail cameras, forget the usual locations like field edges and well-used trails. Instead, place your cameras in areas that you have always been curious about but don’t actually want to waste time sitting at. This is a low-risk, high reward strategy that could help you find the bedroom of a big buck that otherwise disappears for most of the year.
While you may only get a fraction of the number of pictures that you would in other high producing spots, all it takes is a few pictures of a mature buck to know where he is, what he is doing, and how you can best hunt him.
The final week of October
As the weather and temperature begin to get cooler towards the end of the month, you should start to see the hunting getting better. The last few days of October will be the best days of the month, and Halloween holds a reputation for being a great day to be out in the woods with the deer.
If you are a Texas bowhunter, there are few better times to be in a tree! The bucks will be much more active than they have been all month long, and although they still won’t likely venture too far from their home range, the likelihood of seeing them in daylight near their core areas is very high.
This is where your hunting and scouting throughout the first three weeks of the month will come into play. You have to be in the right place at the right time to intercept these mature deer. Don’t be afraid of using rut tactics during this pre-rut phase such as decoying, calling, and even rattling.
Don’t forget about food sources for Whitetail Deer
This does not mean, however, that you should avoid hunting around any possible food sources. Anything from a freshly picked cornfield, food plot, or empty field could be a magnet for local deer. Utilizing your mobile treestand setup and trail cameras, you can more easily figure out what food sources the deer are using and where they will be.
Don’t forget about acorns either. Whitetail deer love acorns!
If there are oak trees in your area, the chances are that the deer will not be too far away. As the year progresses and other food sources start to dwindle, a whitetail will start to rely more heavily on things like acorns.
Whitetail Deer hunting in Texas
The month of October can be a bit tricky for Whitetail Deer hunting, as it comes with its own set of challenges and opportunities. While it is not as productive or exciting as the heat of the rut, at least you are out hunting and stand a chance at harvesting that next big buck.
Hunting during October will also help you to better prepare for the month of November when the whitetail deer are rutting.
They say a bad day of Whitetail deer hunting is still better than a good day at work, and when you are deer hunting in October, you might just be surprised at what you can see!
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