Hunting > Whitetails

The Ultimate October Playbook (Page 2)

This month presents opportunities for a bowhunter or early-season muzzleloader hunter—if you don’t mess up first. Here’s how to score before the rut arrives.

Here are a few tips to keep the element of surprise throughout October.
First, avoid hunting mornings in most cases. Mornings offer few opportunities short of hunting near bedding areas. Unless you have a specific buck very narrowly patterned, save those bedding-area hunts for the rut.

Second, always have a great exit strategy from each evening stand. If you bump deer on your way out, they will be less likely to use that area during daylight in the near future. It may take a couple of weeks for them to get comfortable there again. The older deer have learned what it means when a person sneaks around their feeding areas. The best strategy is to arrange to have someone move the deer off the feeding area with a vehicle or ATV so you can get out undetected. Deer will forgive this much quicker than they will a person walking out.

Third, be smart about your in-season scouting. Only two types of in-season scouting make sense. You either have to be so sneaky that no deer realize you were there, or you have to go totally in the other direction and come off as a farmer or landowner out cutting firewood with no regard for stealth.

Surprisingly, both methods work well. It is only when you try to sneak around and don’t pull it off that you make the deer uneasy.

One additional thought: Consider wearing waist-high waders when doing any scouting and when checking cameras during the season. You want to reduce your scent signature as much as possible.

October Recapped
I have really warmed up to October over the years, or, more accurately, I have warmed up to the coldest days of October. When it gets cold in October, you can be sure I will be in a good stand near a feeding area. And as the end of October marks the transition into the rut, I’m sitting over travel funnels that I have saved specifically for this time.

For many years, I rarely hunted more than a few days in October—just enough time to fill a few doe tags. As a result, I missed a lot of action. Now, some of my favorite days of the entire season come during key days in October.

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