Throughout most of the whitetail’s range the peak of the rut (biggest percentage of does receptive at one time) doesn’t occur during early October. That may sound like bad news. It’s not. It does mean hunters need to use different techniques than appropriate during the rut. During early October, bucks are focused on food and determining the dominance hierarchy.
Hunters can use this knowledge to create successful strategies to tag bucks. Bucks are genetically programmed to gain weight/develop fat to prepare for the post-rut winter stress period. If your goal is to gain weight you focus on consuming carbs. Deer are the same. During this time of year deer seek grains and acorns – both loaded with carbs.
In production corn and soybean areas deer commonly frequent standing or recently harvested grain fields. These fields tend to be large and difficult to pattern where deer enter and exit. It’s often a better strategy to scout for travel corridors from cover to these fields. Once a travel corridor is found, look for a point along the corridor that bottlenecks deer to a small area and can be approached, hunted, and exited without alerting deer.
In areas that are primarily covered with timber, especially oaks, deer can be difficult to pattern when the acorn crop is widespread. When this occurs, more scouting may be necessary to find fresh sign and good stand/blind locations. In addition, more frequent scouting may be necessary as the location of the currently preferred acorns can change frequently because the timing of acorn drop varies by species, weather conditions, etc.
In addition to seeking carbs, bucks are using direct contact, scrapes, and multi-year rubs to determine the constantly changing hierarchy. This behavior means mocks scrapes can be a great tool to pattern bucks and/or create bottlenecks. I’ve shared how to create mock scrapes in this video: Deer Hunting Strategy: How To Make A Mock Scrape.
I often combine these two dominate behaviors to tag bucks during October. I create a mock scrape in or near a source of quality food. Bucks will be in or near sources of quality food during their need to gain calories. While seeking quality food, bucks will be attracted to scent communication points such as scrapes. If there’s not a natural scrape near the ideal stand or blind location I create a mock scrape within my effective shot range. You can see a successful use of this technique here.
Understanding the behavior of deer throughout the hunting season will increase the odds of tagging a buck and putting fresh venison in the freezer.
The acorns are dropping here at The Proving Grounds. This means that deer that have been on a food to cover pattern for the last couple of months will be more difficult to hunt. All of a sudden there is a new, attractive food source that will pull them off the food plots they’ve been frequenting.
Why? Because deer are seeking carbohydrates. Acorns are high in energy but low in protein. They are a big attraction this time of year. You can have a buck patterned then literally within two days it can change that pattern when a white oak off the ridge starts to drop acorns.
We’re seeing some of those changes here. We had some bucks patterned – Slingshot and Swoops – coming to a food plot. That pattern has started to break-up.
Scouting for acorns is a good technique whether you hunt 40 or 4,000 acres. We start scouting for acorns as early as July. (Read more about our recent scouting at this link.)
Ideal deer hunting can occur when oak trees are few and far between. This usually occurs when agriculture or other land use practices that limit the amount of habitat that is forested.
Another situation that produces great hunting is when only a few oaks in an area produce acorns. When these conditions exist, patterning deer may be as simple as locating the trees that produced acorns and hunting near them without spooking deer.
However, if oaks are common where you hunt, it can be extremely difficult to see deer during years when all the oak trees produce acorns. This is because deer can eat and bed within an extremely small area. Hunters simply can’t approach these areas without alerting deer! It’s tough to get between the feeding and bedding area when they are literally just a few yards apart.
Knowing which types of acorns deer prefer during the early (from the white oak family) versus late (from the red oak family) season can be a key to hanging stands in locations that fit your hunting schedule.
We’ll be sharing our early season bow hunts soon, so stay tuned to see how the different locations and strategies are paying off for the GrowingDeer Team!
Archery season starts here in Missouri on September 15. Some states have an even earlier archery season. We’ll be hunting in Kentucky where the season opens September 1. Even earlier than in Kentucky, August 24-26 Tennessee has a private lands only archery season before their regular archery season opens on September 22.
If you are hunting in states like these with the opportunity to deer hunt in late August or early September, now is s a great time to take the Nikons out and be watching for velvet antlers.
These early seasons are a great time to be chasing a hit list buck. The bucks will still be in their summer pattern: food to cover, cover to food, and back again. You have to be really careful because bedding areas can be really close to feeding areas. It can be tough to get in there without alerting the deer. We've hunted the early bow season in Kentucky for several years now with good results. Check out the hunt from 2017 in the video at this link.
An ideal situation for early season hunts is where the bedding and feeding areas are close together but there is a crosswind that allows you to get in the stand without alerting deer.
It’s often hot in the early season so bucks typically don’t get to the food source until right at dark.
If you do some summer time scouting and find a bachelor group of bucks coming into the food plot before dark with that setup of a stand with a crosswind, you’ve got a good chance of tagging a buck in the first couple of days of the season.
Take advantage of this time when the bucks are still in their bachelor groups before the testosterone elevates and the groups disperse.
The early season can be an effective window of time to tag a hit list buck if you follow good scent control and have a strategy defined for various stand locations and wind directions. Remember the number one principle for a good stand or blind site: you need to be able to approach, hunt, and exit without alerting deer.
Watching velvet antlers and enjoying Creation,
Pops Woods taught the GrowingDeer Team many lessons. For Pops, hunting was about sharing time with family and the Creator. This week we share several of our favorite lessons, memories and hunting moments of Pops. We celebrate his life as not only a hunter, but husband, father and friend.
spring field days 2018:
Thinking about deer season? Learn about year round deer management at our upcoming Field Event, March 23 and 24. Register here.
new weekly blog:
Locating toms on the roost can be key to moving in close. Learn tips for using an owl call to get turkeys to gobble.
The best way to learn how to call turkeys is to listen to real turkeys! Grab your calls, crank up the volume of this video, and begin to call along!
Tip of the Week:
Patterning your turkey gun before opening day ensures you know your effective range!
new weekly blog:
Do the bucks in your area still have their antlers? We’ve got a few bucks that are already shedding their antlers at The Proving Grounds! Find out what influences bucks to shed their antlers in this week’s blog.
These deer must be training for the winter Olympics. Watch as they skate on this puddle!
Tip of the Week:
During warm temperatures raccoons like sweets but during cold temperatures they seek meats.
Arctic blasts are a great time to hunt!
Burrr!!! There’s an arctic blast impacting much of the whitetail’s range. Colder temperatures mean deer need more calories to stay warm. These conditions often result in some great hunting opportunities!
This seems to be especially true when the nighttime temperatures are much colder than during the day. Deer easily sense the energy savings of being active and feeding during the warmer daytime temperatures.
In addition, deer strongly prefer to bed on south facing slopes during such conditions so they can benefit from the sun’s radiant energy.
Knowing where deer prefer to bed and eat and when they will be feeding is a huge advantage!
The arctic blast is forecast to impact much of North American for several more days. Layer up and go fill some tags! That’s what I’ll be doing!
Flatwood natives special offer:
Flatwood Natives is offering a “Giving Season” discount: 20% off all tree packages. Visit their informative website to see all the quality trees for wildlife and planting/care tutorials. We plant these trees and have had great survival and success even in these poor Ozark soils!
new weekly blog:
We’ve changed our hunting strategies for the late season and are now focusing on food. Find out how we have prepared for this time of the year by protecting standing soybeans!
Grant takes questions and gives answers to deer hunters after a successful hunt. “Live” at the skinning shed!
Tip of the Week:
A screwdriver is a great tool for holding the spring and setting a dog proof trap!
December is a very special time of year for deer hunters. We’ve changed our tactics from the rut phase to get bucks into range. Deer are really hitting food sources right now. For that reason, we’ve opened the gate where the Hot Zone fence is protecting standing beans. These were strategically placed so that with the gate open, deer would be in range of our stands. Standing beans are one of the best attractants for the late season.
But more importantly, I want to invite you all to join the Woods family in truly celebrating Christmas this year. Not the gift giving and all the ceremonies we have, but the reason Christmas was first started; the reason we do it is to remember the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Without that tremendous gift from God, we’d have no chance of knowing eternity, of knowing salvation or even enjoying Creation that we all enjoy today.
I clearly remember the first time Pops took me deer hunting. I was 6 years old and in first grade. We went on a primitive weapons (muzzleloader) deer hunt on public land near Caney Mountain in southern Missouri. It was during October and I got to skip school! Many of Pops’ buddies went and I was the only child in our camp.
While Pops’ friends walked deep into the woods to hunt, he couldn’t go far from the road with me tagging along. When we’d sit behind a log or against a tree, I’d pretend that his muzzleloader’s ramrod was a gun and “shoot” at every squirrel and bird in sight. I constantly waved the ramrod like a flag!
Of course, we didn’t see a deer. I was fidgeting, “shooting” squirrels and asking about lunch. A few of Pops’ buddies tagged deer, which was a huge accomplishment during those days. Pop must have not been mad because he kept taking me hunting. Click here to read more.
Lindsey Martin has a crack at a hit list buck named Twin Towers! Plus, GrowingDeer interns get in on the action as they help our doe management goal and remove predators at The Proving Grounds!
Folks have been asking us about GrowingDeer logo wear for Christmas presents. Drake has quality hats available with the GrowingDeer logo. Orders placed by December 18th will arrive in time for Christmas!
Watch an awesome Reconyx video of a bobcat stalking its prey!
new weekly blog:
Grant shares his post rut hunting strategies and tips for tagging a buck!
Tip of the Week:
Cold weather gear can make it hard to maintain shooting form. Practice wearing those layers, so that you will be prepared for that next encounter!