Overall Activity Status: Deer activity was slow during the heat of last week’s Indian summer. I spent several evenings watching a picked cornfield with my heart set on one particular bachelor group of bucks. Though I saw deer (and those bucks) each sit, the movement was restricted to the last 45 minutes of daylight. Although the bucks are still hanging together, the relationships are more loose-knit than they were in early September. Many of the deer are stepping into the field individually on various trails, and then grouping together once they see each other.
But the weekend’s stout cold front, remnants of a winter storm from out West, seemed to help. I’m out of town and couldn’t hunt yesterday, but my Facebook page was alive with buddies talking about deer movement. One of my buddies in Southwest Tennessee got a chance at a big buck last night, and he said that buck was one of eight under his stand. My buddy made the shot, but unfortunately, the hit wasn’t where he wanted it. Despite a heavy blood trail, he was still looking for his buck as of this morning.
Fighting: I had a good fighting report from last week, and that action is continuing. Bucks from the bachelor group I’ve been hunting were still spunky as ever last week, spending as much time locked up and sparring once in the field as they did eating.
Rub Making: Rubs are becoming easier and easier to find, and this will only increase as we get farther into October.
Scrape Making: I still haven’t found a scrape yet, but I haven’t been searching much. For the most part, I’ve been sneaking in and out of my stands on access routes where I don’t expect to see many deer or much sign. But those big field-edge scrapes should be appearing within the next week or so.
Chasing: Nothing yet.
Daytime Movement: With lows dipping into the high-40s at night, it’s beginning to feel like deer season outside. Most animals are still on steady feeding patterns, although changing food sources are affecting those patterns. While I was hunting the other evening, I watched half a dozen deer walk across 200 yards of picked corn and stop to feed along an edge on the other side. A closer look the following day revealed what they were after. A small white oak was raining acorns – and it’s one of the few acorn-producing trees I’ve found. You can see the fallen acorns and fresh tracks in the photo above.
Estrous Signs: None yet
X Factor: Hunting pressure. As the fall weather begins to moderate, you can expect more people in the woods. Kentucky’s crossbow season opened Oct. 1, youth season opens this weekend, and muzzleloader season is next weekend. Muzzleloader season has been open a while already in parts of North Carolina, and gun season is right around the corner. West Virginia’s firearm season opens Oct. 24. This all means more people in the woods hunting, sighting in guns, checking stands and hanging trail cameras. All of that activity will affect deer movement (it’s a big factor in creating the infamous “October Lull,” if you believe in that; I do).
This time of year, in my opinion, is a good time to hang back from your best hunting spots. If you’re on a big buck, hunt him. Otherwise, make your best places into temporary sanctuaries. Spend your days hunting secondary areas and try to kill some does. Fresh stands are a good thing to have when the frenzy of the rut finally gets here. And that frenzy isn’t too far away.