The October Lull


October just might be the most beautiful month of the year. The nights are cool, the days are often crisp and clear, and the leaves are starting to change color as the days shorten. It is the most comfortable time (at least for me; I don’t like to be cold at all) to be on a treestand. Yet I hardly hunt at all during the middle of the month. Because the simple fact is that the bucks move very, very little during daylight hours during the tenth month of the year.

It’s a real bummer, that October lull. And don’t let anyone tell you there is no such thing, because I’ve seen it happen year after year. I don’t know exactly why they do it, but sometime during the first week of October it seems like all the bucks crawl in a hole back in the woods somewhere and hibernate for about three weeks.

Years ago, we used to hunt anyway, trying our best to disprove the lull theory through sheer force of will and achieving the same results year after year. We desperately wanted to hunt, and convinced ourselves that the possibility of encountering a big buck was still there. And, to a degree, it was; but our chances of seeing, much less actually getting a shot at, a big buck were realistically nearly zero.

And to be honest, I might still keep hunting through the lull if pressuring the deer wasn’t an issue. For example, if I had unlimited acreage to hunt and could simply switch my efforts to another area entirely once the deer where I was hunting became too pressured. In such a situation pressure isn’t an issue beyond the very day you hunt an area. But most of us hunt smaller properties or a limited number of different properties and don’t have that luxury. Pressure is usually a huge issue in most real-world hunting situations.

So I believe the best option is to keep the trail cameras checked and a sharp eye on the crop fields in case a buck does start to show up somewhere in the daytime. There is always that chance, especially with the really old deer, who for some reason tend to become more visible at about six years old. And when that happens, you of course need to get on him as soon as you can.

But, barring such a rare occurrence, the pressure put on the deer by hunting the lull is simply not worth it. On the plus side, skipping three weeks of hunting can ultimately be very rewarding. With no hunting pressure, the bucks are much more likely to be on their feet the last couple days of the month. In fact, I believe if pressure is kept to a minimum, the last two days of October and the first day of November can be the most productive three-day period of the season to hunt. This is when the bucks first start getting a little restless with the initial stirrings of the rut. They will start checking feeding areas for does, and a setup on a food plot or crop field can be deadly. And don’t be discouraged if you’re not getting daytime pictures of bucks at these setups prior to hunting them during this period. Many of the bucks we’ve killed around Halloween had never showed up on our cameras before, either. You’re trying to be there when the buck, encouraged to move in the daytime by the lack of human activity, makes his first ‘scouting’ trip.

A little restraint early in the season can produce some great results.

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