If I had to pick my favorite month to hunt “Monster Bucks” it would have to be October! Yeah, you heard right, October, not November. I have had my best luck in October and harvested all of my biggest bucks including all 3 of my 200” deer prior to Halloween. There are a few good reasons for my success during the early season, and I’m going to break them down for you and I’m also going to separate this special month into 3 individual phases over the next few weeks and take a close look at them all. I like to break down the month into: The Opener ( obviously the beginning ), The Lull ( basically after the first week and up to the 20th give or take), and Red October or the last 10 days of the month. During this period here in the midwest, there are a lot of changes going on, almost on a daily basis, with both deer and their habitat. Each phase takes a little different approach and there can be some last minute changes that have to be made in your set ups, but above all else you have to be as sneaky, scent free, and as careful as you possibly can not to blow your cover with a big buck! October can be a great time to kill a monster, but it may be the most difficult too.
I can attribute my success in October to a few main reasons. First, I’m normally hunting a specific animal in October here in my home state of Ohio. I honestly believe that when you narrow down the playing field and concentrate on a specific animal you are increasing your chances of tagging that buck! When you have a specific goal, you are more apt to attain it! I’m not just out deer hunting, I’m hunting a specific deer! Secondly, I go to great lengths when it comes to scouting and trying to decipher a big bucks travel patterns, so I have a pretty good idea what he’s doing and where he’s doing it. The key is this, in October a buck is on a strict feeding pattern and is probably more patternable now than any other time of the year! He is basically doing the same thing everyday. This makes a big buck very vulnerable! Lastly, when you get the big picture and understand what a big buck is doing early, and why he’s doing it, you can predict where he will be and when he’ll be there and wait for the perfect conditions to give you your best opportunity! I have taken all of my biggest animals the first time I hunted the stand I shot them out of. The toughest part of hunting mature deer can be “not hunting them” until everything is perfect!
Lets look at “ The Opener”. It’s been 8 months since the local deer herd has been harassed by hunters. Life for a deer has been carefree for the past 3/4 of the year, except for the occasional coyote or scum bag poacher! Opening weekend can be a great time to catch a big buck with his guard down! Especially this year, with most of the soybeans planted late this year, most will still be green and should make for a great hunt! I’ll bet a lot of bucks will remain on their summer food source later this year, instead of traveling back to their core areas and completely disappearing. Don’t wait for season to open before you climb up in a stand and watch the field he’s been in all summer, try to pinpoint where you need to be for a surprise attack the first day or two of season. It’s tough to beat a buck back to his bedding area, especially during early season, so I usually leave that as a last resort and hunt him hard, exhausting all efforts in the evening before invading his bedroom. Never say never though, if you know exactly where he beds, have a stand pre hung and can get in there more quietly than a church mouse, it would be hard not to try it! Just remember, if you don’t get it done, chances are he will know you were there and the game just got harder! I personally haven’t shot a big buck on the opener at home, but I have out of state and know a bunch of other guys that have done the same, its a great chance to connect on a whopper. Just make sure he’s moving during daylight if its possible through observation or trail cameras. Don’t rush in to your best spot just because season opens and you feel like you have to be hunting. If its not right, and the wind and moon aren’t on your side, back off and watch from a distance or hunt another area. Hunt smart early, leave hunting hard for November! Let’s take a look at the October Lull next week.