The Secret to Nocturnal Bucks

Nocturnal bucks are the biggest challenge I run into at this time of the year; in fact, nocturnal bucks are the biggest challenge I run into at all times of the year, but it seems to be more prevalent during the first two weeks of October than at other times. Starting in early September I was getting many daylight photos of the bucks I am hunting on my trail cameras; however, as September came to an end and October started, the number of mature bucks I was getting on my cameras in daylight dropped off to almost none. This is common. There is even a term for it: “The October Lull.” The bucks are still feeding, they are just doing it at night. Knowing that this naturally occurs will help you sort out changing buck behavior at this time of the year, but it won’t necessarily help you to tag one. Unfortunately, there isn’t much I can do or say that will help there. It is not possible to make a nocturnal buck move naturally during the daylight.

Sure, you can try to bump a buck from his bed and hope he walks past a waiting bowhunter, but that is a low-odds deal that you dare not try to pull more than once.  Maybe it is worth a try, but you need to treat it as much like a farmer out checking fence or someone cutting firewood as possible. Don’t surprise the deer. If you can get the stander into place early and casually get the buck standing and moving you have some hope. Again, this is a heavy-handed strategy that you shouldn’t try more than once or you will encourage the buck to relocate.

I am not a big fan of driving them, but I have the luxury of being able to wait for the bucks to hopefully start moving later in the month. If you don’t have that luxury, due to outside hunting pressure or other circumstances, it is worth a try. In the meantime, I am staying out of my best hunting areas and focusing instead on monitoring trail cameras in an attempt to stay on top of what the bucks are doing. If a buck I am interested in hunting starts to show some daylight activity, I will start hunting him right away. That's the secret to nocturnal bucks in early October: You have to wait and then move in if you get photos of a buck in daylight that in a feeding area or on a rub line. 

While it may not be a great time to shoot a buck, it is a good time to shoot does. I am still getting lots of daylight photos of does on my cameras.

Good luck, and be sure to check out this week's video.

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2 Responses to The Secret to Nocturnal Bucks

marshall wrote:
November 30, 2011

I hunt in northern WI and baiting deer is really getting to be a problem!! Nocturnal , at least until the rut starts then a buck will follow a doe to the bait pile, If you own land and don't bait or plant some sort of food plot you won't see any deer! What fun is it to shoot a deer off a bait that has been there for two months It turns the deer tame My father don't hunt any more and he feeds the deer in his yard to watch them .. he had a forked buck tame enough to pet and this year there was a doe he was almost petting Thats what baiting and feeding does to deer I might as well ask a farmer if I can go out and shoot one of his beef cows I could go on and on but I getting to the point where I'm about to quit hunting.. I'm gonna have to start a RECALL on WI baiting and feeding I've e-mailed the authorities but get nowhere

Winke fan wrote:
October 11, 2011

Thanks bill I read your column every week