Battling the October Lull

By Babe Winkelman

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[October 27, 2014]  As a hunter, you put hours, days, weeks, and even months into preparing for opening day of archery season. Well now that cooler weather is arriving and leaves are changing colors, so are a whitetails pattern. Many refer to this time period as the October lull. Those whitetails you had patterned out at the end of summer, have moved to different areas, leaving you scratching your head.

A few factors that change a whitetails pattern when October rolls around are; food, cover, and hunting pressure itself. The first factor is food. Deer are no longer feeding at the same food source evening after evening, which means whitetails have changed what is on the menu for a tasty meal. Agricultural crops like soy beans and corn are beginning to be harvested, which only leaves deer to feed on the remnants that are left behind. But a major factor when it comes to food is that acorns are falling from the trees, allowing deer to feed in the safety of cover.

With that said, the second factor is cover. As leaves fall and the woods become bare, deer will seek out new bedding areas that provided more security in regards to cover. The last factor is hunting pressure. Many of you have been in and out of the woods in hopes of tagging a early season buck, which deer can start to sense. Also, other hunting seasons are taking place during this time, which can add unwanted pressure in the woods, alerting deer. These changing factors combined to create the theory of the October lull.

Do not let this discourage you and keep you on the couch at home. Trust me, the deer have not disappeared, they have been adjusting and changing their previous patterns. This means you have to continue learning and figuring out where these deer have shifted too.

With that said, here are a few things I like to do when battling the October lull. I like to scout from a distance trying to locate the areas the deer have moved to. This means glassing new fields or clearings from roads or access trails to locate current travel paths.

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It is important to keep out of the woods and scout from a distance to keep pressure to a minimum. Secondly, I keep in mind when I am in and out of the woods between sits is to keep my eyes open searching the forest floor to locate acorns. I try to locate them on my way in and out of the stand to limit the pressure being put on the deer. It is important to note that all oak trees are not created equal as deer prefer acorns form white oaks as they have a lower tannic acid content, making them less bitter.

Although deer will turn to acorns from red oaks as they remain edible far longer than acorns from white oaks, especially if they cannot find white acorns. Finally, I think outside the box. By this I mean, grunting from time to time along with some soft rattling as these behaviors are not that uncommon in the month of October. Also, I like to use estrous scent during some sits in hopes of attracting a buck looking for a doe early in the season.

To be successful during the month of October you will definitely be facing adversity. Think outside the box and be aware that with so many changes happening at once you have to be ready to change your hunting rituals, allowing you to try new things. Keep at it and sooner than later an opportunity will present itself, leaving you with a true reward.


Babe Winkelman hosts "Good Fishing" and "Outdoor Secrets," the most-watched fishing and hunting programs on television. Tune in on NBC Sports Network, Destination America, Velocity, Time Warner Sports Texas & New York, and many local broadcast channels. Visit Winkelman.com for airtimes and more information. Follow Babe Winkelman on Facebook and Twitter.

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