Every year there is an initial change in a deer's behavior that throws some hunters for a loop. You've most likely heard the term "October lull" used to force the blame on the deer. Multiple gps tracking studies have shown that there is no such thing as an October lull. Deer don't move less right before the rut. In fact studies show they actually increase their movement during this time in both daylight and after nightfall. What has changed is they have adjusted their patterns from the previous months and for some reason we refuse to make that move with them. Let me explain. Over the summer months you probably enjoyed daily photos of bucks eating in your food plot, regularly using the same trails, and entering and exiting fields in the same location. Once the velvet comes off, POOF! They disappear. That's because the hardening of their antlers by the higher levels of testosterone building in their bodies can technically be considered the first phase of the rut that triggers a plethora of changes in a buck's body. A few examples of other changes taking place:
- Bucks that have been friendly and huddled together over then summer will start to lose interest in each other's presence and begin searching for the doe groups they'll soon be chasing.
- Their food sources are changing. There are undoubtedly dozens of feeders staring to fire off within the boundaries of your lease and acorns of certain types will begin falling soon. The deer know that!
- There is more activity in and around their core, home area. Hunters are taking to the woods to set stands, clear lanes and plant fall food plots. The deer take notice of that. While the doe groups may not mind the old mature bucks sure do.
So how do I adapt you ask? Easy, move your cameras! Get them off the food plots, feeders, and mineral sites and near acorn trees. Get them on trails leading from known bedding areas to hard wood bottoms that will soon be full of their absolute favorite snack, acorns. Get them to an area you haven't been this summer or where no one else goes. Seclusion is a big wary buck's best friend and it will be yours too if you are careful about going in and out.
Something that is also an option with recent advancements in technology is taking an Ozone generator to the woods with you while you're checking cameras. If you are searching for big bucks you will agree that every drop of scent you leave in the woods matters. Ozonics has developed a back pack that carries the HR-300 and allows it to eliminate your "scent tracks" while you're checking cameras. A cutting edge tool to ensure you're leaving no trace of your presence.
Another helpful tool that will save you time and gas is the recent price drop in cellular trail cameras like the Spypoint Link -Evo. I put mine in the middle of a sanctuary area in May and have been able to hold bucks in that area ever since due to not having to venture in disturbing them checking that area. Both game changers for those that like to have the latest and greatest.
So before you blame the deer for the October lull, or in parts of southern Louisiana the "September Lull" change your tactics up. Cover your scent and noise tracks while you're preparing for the season and move those cameras. Where did you find them last year at this time? That would be a good place to start!