Where did he go and how do I hunt him in October?
It’s second quarter of football game and you have not scored a touch down. Is it time to panic and change total game plan? Maybe – Maybe not. Any good coach has come into the game with a solid game plan based on film, and knowledge of other team. Well it is getting close to the middle of October and I have not killed the deer I have been scouting on my Georgia property. I am hunting about 50 acres that is a 50/50 split of rural and suburban area. Going into the season I had a stand set up in the area of game pictures. This area was close to water and cover. I was confident in my set up but after several hunts and seeing small bucks and few does, I have not seen the mature bucks. Where did they go? Are they gone?
Yes, I am a little frustrated but it is not time to panic and over hunt an area. I am taking a step back to re-evalute my set ups and what these bucks may be doing. First, thing I did is consider the below factors based on this part of the season (October 1st – November 1st)….
- Food source will change to acorns
- Weather is getting cooler and there is more water in creeks due to rain
- Behaviors will begin to change mid to later October with bucks making scrapes, rubs near bedding areas and travel zones
Based on these factors I took out my Ariel Map (Mapping the Outdoors) and began to factor in these things and “think like a Buck” to see where he may go to find these areas. After doing this I have identified a few new locations to hunt over the next several weeks.
I also like to think ahead to determine how I will hunt during November and December. Realizing most of the bedding area will not change I need to deal with the food source after the deer have moved off the acorns. On this property there is a lot of browse but not existing food plots. So, I have made my own using a combination of Mossy Oak’s “Hot Spot” blend and some rye seed. Both of these are contact seeds that do not require a lot of work or land prep. You can put them in areas of the woods that will attract does and bucks near travel areas and near cover for a staging buck. After studying the Ariel Map I have put out three small plots using a hard rake, seed, and some quality fertilizer. By the time the acorns are gone these should be nice little food plots.
We are going into the 2nd Qrt and I am changing my plays but not the game plan. You need to be smart and consider that you need to adjust to deal with your property dynamics and changing behaviors of deer as the season progresses. Something else to consider is if you have not harvested that buck you are hunting yet and you are hunting him out of the same stand. Back off a bit and do not over hunt him. Follow your game plan that includes these factors: weather conditions, WIND, Moon, Food Sources, bedding areas and stand location. At this point make sure all of these conditions are good and then go after him. If the WIND is wrong and it is warm with bad moon you may want to stay home.
As the rut approaches these new set ups where I have placed my small food plots will hopefully pull in some traveling bucks. While the area I am hunting is only 50 acres there is other property around me that holds deer that I know will travel. My goal is to provide something not only for the does to feed on,which will pull in the bucks. I believe it will be a hot spot for the bucks that are traveling to hit for quick “feeding” as they are passing through. Below is some additional information based on an article by Quality Deer Management Association that discusses deer travel behaviors prior to and during the rut.
Buck Excursions (Quality Whitetails Magazine by QDMA)
During summer, daily buck movements tended to be short trips from bedding to feeding areas, but this changed dramatically during the breeding season. Beginning during the pre-rut, several bucks covered large portions of their home ranges and then returned to their core areas within 8-30 hours.
Additionally, 58 percent of bucks also made excursions outside of their home ranges during the rut, often staying in the new locations 6-24 hours before returning to their home ranges. While unsure, researchers speculated that these bucks likely were in pursuit of an estrous doe. These seemingly random excursions outside of a buck’s normal home range could explain how some bucks that have never been seen or photographed previously seem to magically appear and either get harvested or vanish, never to be seen again on the property.
Another interesting finding was the change in time of day the excursions occurred. During both the pre-rut and post-rut periods approximately 70% of excursions occurred during nighttime hrs; whereas during the peak rut, 70% occurred during daylight hours. This certainly helps explain the increased visibility of bucks by hunters during the rut.
I will keep you posted on the progress of my changing plays within my game plan. I have taken some of these same steps on my South Carolina farm. While this piece of property is much larger and the food plots are bigger I am executing many of the same principles. Good luck in October!
By Brian Stephens, StickemArchery.com
Information from the Quality Deer Management Association was referenced in this article. To become a member or to learn more about the resources available go to www.QDMA.com.
Originally posted 2010-10-14 09:10:50. Republished by Blog Post Promoter