Remedies to the October Deer Hunting Lull: Patience and Wait a Week or Two

It plays out every year when the warm days of early to mid-autumn bring daytime deer movement to a grinding halt, the dreaded hunting lull. Deer hunters must exercise caution and patience, since the best days of deer season are only weeks away

Remedies to the October Deer Hunting Lull: Patience and Wait a Week or Two
After months of sitting on the sidelines, most hunters are chomping at the bit to tag a good buck. But one key to doing so is to exercise patience when necessary, waiting for the best times to become aggressive as a hunter. (Lynn Burkhead photo)

Like a heavyweight boxer charging into the middle of the ring when the opening bell sounds, there is an understandable rush into the deer woods when the law comes off of the annual autumn bowhunting campaigns around the country.

After all, it's been the better part of 10 months since most archers have climbed into a treestand with an unused deer tag sitting in their back pocket.

And every autumn, social media lights up in those first few days of the season with photos of gloriously big bucks that some lucky hunter has knocked down. Be it a post on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter, the onrush of big buck images seems to literally send Deer Nation into a big antlered frenzy.

David Blanton, longtime member of Team Realtree and the producer and co-star of the Realtree Outdoors television show on Outdoor Channel, fully understands that, having tagged plenty of early-season big whitetails himself over the years, monster bucks that help stir up the big deer social media storm.


In fact, Blanton says there isn't a much better time than the season's first days for tagging a big deer. He should know, having tagged plenty of monsters at such early season hotspots as northeastern Wyoming, eastern Montana and southern Kansas to name a few.


"October can be dynamite early on," said Blanton. "Deer can be very predictable with (early season) food sources."

Likewise, Blanton is really high on the big buck potential of the last few days of October as Halloween approaches.

"That last week of October can get really good (too)," said the Georgia resident. "Really good, that is, if you don't have warmer than normal temperatures. When you do, warmer than normal weather is about the toughest thing I know of to combat."

Toughest thing to combat, that is, unless a hunter is talking about the middle of October, the warm, lazy and hazy days of meteorology's so-called Indian Summer season when the weather is good, food is readily available and the Hunter's Moon is blazing bright and full in the nighttime sky.


Add in the fact that crops in many areas of the Midwest are being harvested and the situation is compounded as social media big buck reports begin to seriously dwindle away.

No wonder deer hunters tend to ruefully call this time of the year the dreaded October lull.

October Hunting Lull Tips
What's one way to deal with the slow hunting conditions often found during the mid-season of most early bowhunting campaigns? By being patient and not becoming overly aggressive during the so-called October lull. (Lynn Burkhead photo)


"There's definitely a big lull in the middle of October (most years)," said Blanton.

"That lull, you can't combat that," he added. "Every year, the deer seem to go underground at this time of the year.

"And when they do, deer hunters seem to panic and become more aggressive in their hunting tactics. They'll push tighter into a bedding area, push deer around and end up spooking deer."

And the problem with that is a hunter, if they aren't careful enough, can actually blow their season's ultimate potential to smithereens.

"You've got to understand that this is the lull," said Blanton. "The bucks are waiting for the pre-rut to kick in (in a couple of weeks) and then they'll start checking things (out), rubbing more trees, laying down scent to establish their territory, etc."

What is the key for frustrated hunters at this time of the year? Like a boxer in the middle of a 15-round title fight, patience says Blanton, plenty of patience.

"Don't panic during the lull," he indicated. "Don't get discouraged and most of all, keep hunting smart."

Ralph Cianciarulo, Blanton's Team Realtree and Outdoor Channel counterpart, agrees.

"Earlier in October is important for us as our season (in Illinois) opens up on the first and we can still get the regular deer movement (going on) that we've been seeing on our game cameras for several weeks," said Ralph, who along with his wife Vicki, co-hosts Archer's Choice and The Choice television programs.

"But after the first couple of weekends, with everyone out hunting, the buck movement tends to slow down in the middle of the month and we do the same."

Ralph's better half agrees, noting like Blanton does, that patience is the name of the game during the October lull.

"We try to not pressure our (hunting) areas because we know the best time is yet to come," said Vicki. "So many hunters just keep on hunting during the lull and don't realize that they are pushing the deer movement back to where it is all nocturnal."

Deer going nocturnal is bad enough, but hunters also run the risk of forcing a good buck out of his core range and onto surrounding ground that either can't be hunted or is actually being hunted by someone else.

October Lull Calling Tips
Mid-October isn't the time to call aggressively. But as October ends and November begins, the time to empty a deer hunter's bag of tricks is approaching. (Lynn Burkhead photo)

The best way to combat this possibility in Blanton's mind is to not force the issue in the middle of October when the full blown big antlered glories of late October and early November are on their way.

"I tend to rely on knowledge I've picked up over the years from some of the (people) we know in the Midwest, people who are just incredible hunters like Don (and Kandi) Kisky of Whitetail Freaks," said Blanton.

"To quote Don Kisky, if I may, he says that if he had to pick one day that he really starts to get serious about hunting whitetail bucks, it will be October 28."

Why is that?

"You've got to understand, that from the time a buck loses his velvet in early to mid September, every day from that point on, his testosterone levels are increasing each day," said Blanton. "It builds and builds and builds as the rut approaches."

And what happens at the end of that process?

"By October 28, according to Don, that buck is wanting to breed, he is increasingly aggressive and he can't wait for that first doe to come into heat, even though it is still a couple of weeks away in many places," said Blanton.

"So that (particular) buck gets frustrated, he starts scraping more and more, he is fighting other bucks and he is beginning to rut," said the co-host of Realtree Outdoors.

So what does that mean for a bowhunter?  That it's time to begin digging into the bag of hunting tricks that we've left unused all fall.

"This is when people like Don – and guys like me who pay attention to what they say – start to get aggressive with their hunting tactics," said Blanton. "It's time to start calling because the pre-rut is actually the most effective time to call in a whitetail buck.

"Now is the time to start rattling, to start grunting or even throwing out a snort-wheeze, even though you normally do that later on (during the rut) when a big buck is within eyesight across a field."

While daytime buck movement is often sparse during the middle of October, that changes as the month reaches its conclusion.

"By the end of October, bucks are cruising more, though it's still early and late," said Blanton. "There's still not a lot of midday activity like there will be in the middle of November, but in my opinion, the end of October during the pre-rut, it's one of the top times to kill a mature buck."

He then emphasizes again the reason why it is the most effective time for a bowhunter – or a muzzleloader hunter – to lure in a buck sitting on edge thanks to his rising testosterone level.

"Once the does go into estrous and lock down in November, you're not going to typically call that buck in," said Blanton. "But at the end of October, the only game in town for that deer is to fight with other bucks.

"And that's when I like to take advantage of that with calling."

Meaning the best way for a frustrated bowhunter to deal with the October lull is to simply bide their time and be patient.

Because deer season’s best time to deliver a big buck knockout blow is literally just around the corner.

With a set of huge headbones as the antlered payoff, something far more worthy of display than some sort of manufactured prizefighting belt.

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

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

MLF Pro Tips: Go-To Baits for the Spawn

MLF Pro Tips: Go-To Baits for the Spawn

Major League Fishing pros talk about the first lure they choose when targeting spawning bass.

13 Fishing Pathfinder Weedless Walking Bait

13 Fishing Pathfinder Weedless Walking Bait

Fresh off catching the biggest bass in ICAST Cup history, 13 Fishing pro Jessie Mizell shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the new Big Squirm soft plastic worm and the company's unique Pathfinder topwater walking bait that is totally weedless in design.

Mustad

Mustad's Inkvader Octopus Live Jig

From big fish to small, just about any saltwater game fish out there will love the new Mustad Inkvader Octopus Live Jig that Mustad's Russ Whisler shows to OSG's Lynn Burkhead.

Abu Garcia Virtual Rod with Bluetooth

Abu Garcia Virtual Rod with Bluetooth

Pure Fishing's Andrew Wheeler tells Outdoor Sportsman Group writer Lynn Burkhead all about the brand new Abu Garcia Virtual rod that integrates Bluetooth technology through a free ANGLR smartphone app.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The best jig fisherman are those that are always aware of what their jig is doing. Bass

4 Tips When Jig Fishing For Bass

Chris Schneider - August 25, 2015

The best jig fisherman are those that are always aware of what their jig is doing.

If you haven't looked at the smaller urban lakes in your area, you are missing out on some great bass pond fishing. Bass

Bass Pond Fishing: Catch Lunkers at Small Lakes Near You

Dan Anderson

If you haven't looked at the smaller urban lakes in your area, you are missing out on some...

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish. Records

Upon Further Review: 70-Year-Old Catfish Record Voided

Game & Fish Digital Staff - May 22, 2019

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish.

Here are the 10 most common spinning and baitcaster reel performance problems and how to fix them. Fishing How-To

10 Most Common Reel Performance Problems

Anietra Hamper

Here are the 10 most common spinning and baitcaster reel performance problems and how to fix...

See More Trending Articles

More Hunting How-To

Expert content, gear give-aways and discounts. Bows

Up Your Game with Bowhunter Basecamp

Game & Fish Staff - January 01, 1900

Expert content, gear give-aways and discounts.

Want to play the right tune while turkey hunting this spring? Understand which type of call is best for you. Turkey

Turkey Calls: Choose the Right Instrument

M.D. Johnson - March 23, 2020

Want to play the right tune while turkey hunting this spring? Understand which type of call is...

Think inside and outside the box to attract wood ducks to your favorite waterway. Hunting How-To

DIY: Give Woodies a Home

Michael D. Faw - March 10, 2020

Think inside and outside the box to attract wood ducks to your favorite waterway.

You sure you want to take a shot at that turkey? Not all shotguns, shotshells and shooters are created equal. Turkey

How to Pattern Your Turkey Shotgun

M.D. Johnson - April 06, 2020

You sure you want to take a shot at that turkey? Not all shotguns, shotshells and shooters are...

See More Hunting How-To

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

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

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now