Overcoming October Lull

Overcoming October Lull
Sometimes gaining access to remote hunting areas results in soggy feet. (Courtesy John Eberhart)

Bow hunter details how to increase chances in dead period

The “October lull” has become a catch phrase for not seeing bucks during mid-October. Too much early season scouting and bowhunting pressure causes this unfortunate phenomenon.

Throughout the spring and most of the summer, whitetails go about their business largely undisturbed by human intrusion. That changes abruptly a few weeks prior to the bow opener.

This is when hunters tramp over the whitetail’s domain while scouting for sign, hanging stands, setting up ground blinds and clearing shooting lanes. The sudden influx of human traffic and the pungent odor we leave behind puts the deer on high alert.

The deer become much more cautious and spend less time moving in daylight. Trophy bucks shun sunlight like Count Dracula. The onslaught of hunters during the first week of the bow season aggravates this problem.


Bow hunter John Eberhart, of Weidman, Mich., strongly believes that the October lull is a major handicap, especially on public land where he has taken nine of his 27 Pope & Young class whitetails.


“Over the past 25 years, I’ve killed only one big buck during the October lull,” Eberhart said.


Eberhart will hunt food sources for the first few days of the bow season. If he hasn’t had success by then, he abandons his good stuff until the pre-rut kicks in.

Hunting during the October lull makes trophy bucks even more inclined to stay put until dark, Eberhart stressed. It can also alter the feeding movements of does in the area.

“You want the does to keep following their normal feeding patterns,” Eberhart said. “When the pre-rut kicks in, the does will bring the bucks to you.”


How does Eberhart overcome the urge to hunt during the October lull? He doesn’t. He hunts secondary areas and properties where some of his friends don’t heed the October lull.

Extra Effort

In the Midwest and northeast, the pre-rut begins in late October and carries through the first week of November. This is when Eberhart moves in for the kill.

“I have one standing rule when hunting public land,” Eberhart said. “If I can access a location in an upright walking position, I will not hunt there no matter how good it looks.”


Eberhart reasons that if he can walk into a hunting area where buck sign is prevalent, he will have company. Mature bucks avoid easily accessible places and take up residence where hunters refuse to go. Eberhart often dons hip boots or waders to reach these reclusive bucks.

Tree Saddle

A Tree Saddle (which is no longer made) has given Eberhart a distinct advantage for more than 10 years.

“There is no way a hunter using any conventional metal stand can compete on the same property with someone of equal skill level using a Tree Saddle,” Eberhart said.

A Tree Saddle hangs from strong nylon straps that support a hammock-like seat made of neoprene, leather or nylon mesh. It looks precarious, but it isn't. The Tree Saddle serves as its own climbing belt and safety belt.

When used properly, you are never at risk of falling.

Ask Eberhart why he dotes on the Tree Saddle and he'll tick off a list of advantages:

  • It has no creaky metal platform that can spook deer.

  • It can be set up quietly near bedding deer without spooking them.

  • Snow and ice can't form on a Tree Saddle in foul weather and crunch underfoot as with a platform stand.

  • The Tree Saddle adapts to trees that are too large or small for hang-on and climbing stands.

  • It can be used with leaning trees.

  • Since the lightest model weighs only 2.5 pounds, it is ideal for pack-in hunting.

  • It will never be stolen because it is always with you.

  • Another hunter can’t take advantage of a prime tree stand location that you worked hard to find and prepare.

“Another big factor is that I get 360-degree shot mobility,” Eberhart said. “There are no dead spots.”

That's because you face the tree in a Tree Saddle and the nylon strap allows you to swing from side to side or twist around as needed to shoot in any direction.

Eberhart is currently experimenting with a new hanging-style tree stand, the Areo Hunter Harness from New Tribe (newtribe.com).

Midday Bucks

Eberhart claims that he takes at least 50 percent of his bucks in the middle of the day during the pre-rut and rutting phases.

“Mature bucks wait until the other deer bed down in the morning. Then they get up at midday and scent-check bedding areas and scrapes for estrous does,” Eberhart said.

This daylight activity is more prevalent on heavily hunted lands, Eberhart claims. That's because pressured bucks have learned to stay on the low-low during the morning and evening because this is when hunters are in the woods. To avoid spooking hunter-wise bucks, Eberhart gets on stand 2 hours before first light and stays put all day whenever possible.

October Lull Exceptions

“As far as I’m concerned ... any hunter that has somewhat consistent success at taking mature bucks during the October lull is without question not hunting in a pressured area,” Eberhart said. “That is a fact that is not up for discussion with me. In areas with heavy consequential hunting pressure, it is extremely rare to see a mature buck during daylight hours during the October lull.”


Click image to view the Overcoming October Lull photo gallery


Editor’s Note: John Eberhart has produced a three-volume instructional DVD series titled “Bowhunting Pressured Whitetails” and an instructional archery DVD titled “Archery Mechanics.” He has also co-authored “Bowhunting Pressured Whitetails,” “Precision Bowhunting” and “Bowhunting Whitetails The Eberhart Way.” These products are available at: www.deer-john.net.

Recommended for You

Perfect for competition or a day at the range. Other Hunting

New Gear: MidwayUSA Competition Range Bag

G&F Staff

Perfect for competition or a day at the range.

While misunderstood by some, fishing bottom bouncers can be a very productive technique for walleyes in early summer. Walleye

How to Fish Bottom Bouncers for Walleye

Mark Sak - May 23, 2019

While misunderstood by some, fishing bottom bouncers can be a very productive technique for...

Memorial Day sale offers 15 percent off everything website-wide. Coolers

Get Ready for Summer with Cordova Coolers

May 23, 2019

Memorial Day sale offers 15 percent off everything website-wide.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Berkley

Berkley's Frittside Crankbaits

World Fishing Network show host Chad LaChance had a chance to visit with legendary crankbait master David Fritts about his new Frittside crankbaits from Berkley. LaChance, host of the Fishful Thinker on WFN, also got a few cranking tips from Fritts, the former Classic and Forrest Wood Cup champion.

Lowrance Enters Trolling-Motor Market with Ghost

Lowrance Enters Trolling-Motor Market with Ghost

Lowrance's Lucas Steward shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead what all of the fuss is about in the brand new Ghost trolling motor being brought to market by the Tulsa, Okla.-based fishing equipment manufacturer.

Berkley

Berkley's Surge Shad

Major League Fishing pro Scott Suggs has relied on the Berkley Surge Shad lure concept for years, using similar designs to capture MLF titles and a $1 million dollar FLW Forrest Cup win. With new features in the Surge Shad, Suggs tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead that even he can find success out on the water!

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies. Panfish

Find and Fish Bluegill Beds Efficiently

Terry Madewell - May 22, 2019

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies.

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews of smelly ingredients often used to catch catfish. Catfish

How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait

Keith Sutton - August 04, 2015

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews...

North Dakota Game & Fish Department said the 16-9 walleye doesn't qualify for record. Walleye

Record-Sized Walleye Was Foul-Hooked, Agency Says

G&F Online Staff

North Dakota Game & Fish Department said the 16-9 walleye doesn't qualify for record.

See More Stories

More Whitetail

The efficient and economical all-in-one Firminator G3. Whitetail

Food Plots: Turn the Soil and More

The efficient and economical all-in-one Firminator G3.

Sponsored: Looking for a new deer hunting rifle this fall? Try the immensely popular 6.5 Creedmoor, a caliber that Academy Sports + Outdoors has plenty of – without breaking the bank! Guns

10 Great 6.5 Creedmoor Rifles Under $500

Lynn Burkhead

Sponsored By
Academy Sports
Deadline is approaching for Thiessens Guided Hunt Giveaway. Whitetail

5-Day Guided Hunt Top Prize of Giveaway

September 12, 2019

Deadline is approaching for Thiessens Guided Hunt Giveaway.

See More Whitetail

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×