By Ryan Miloshewski
October is here once and for all! Visions of changing leaves, cool temperatures and increased deer movement have been dancing in my head since July. October, and the start of fall, brings a new sense of excitement to a hunter. Bucks leave sign with scrapes and rubs, bachelor groups disintegrate, and food becomes even more important as deer gear up for breeding. This edition of Whitetail Weekly with Ryan Miloshewski will help you understand what you can do to be successful in these changing conditions!
Tips and Tactics
Deer are starting to move more during the morning and earlier in the evening. Temperatures here in Kansas are hovering around 45-50 degrees in the morning and warming only to 70-75 deg. It’s pleasant to us, and to deer. The rut is still weeks away, and the October lull is looming. I always liken the October lull to a caterpillar in a chrysalis. It seems the bucks eat and sleep as much as they can to prepare for the great energy expenditure that will soon occur. Bucks can be killable, that’s for sure. If you have a buck on camera showing up in daylight, consistently, in an accessible area then hunt him. Most likely this will be a travel route between food and his bed. I am always so leery this time of year to hunt them, because the chance of spooking a mature buck is so high. I generally wait to go after a mature deer October 25-November 15. However, if you think you can do it, go for it. Just be absolutely certain you can get in and out of your stand without bumping deer!
As for me, I am going after does. Yesterday, Oct. 2, Caleb and I had a lot of action. The cool temperatures and freshly cut corn on his property spurred movement–big time! Corn is THE food source right now. Caleb was able to harvest a doe (out of my stand) in the morning over a corn field and I had a shot at a doe in the evening, but couldn’t close the deal. Pay attention to the crops and other food sources in your area. As soon as a corn field is cut, the deer and turkey will be ALL OVER it, so capitalize on it! In a week or two I suspect acorns will start to fall at a high rate, drawing deer from the crops to the mast. As always, use your cameras to take the temperature of the deer in your area. If the temperatures stay cool, mornings will be productive. However, if you get a warming trend deer will most likely be in bed before light. They have their winter coats now, after all. Focus on food, hunt in the right wind, and enjoy the start of second-best month of the year!
-October is regarded as the best time for people who love the outdoors. Camping, hiking, hunting, and fishing are all great this month. Take some time to do it. Consider taking a drive through rural areas to peak at the leaves changing colors!
-When placing your trail cameras, make sure you face them north or south. Having a camera facing east and west, or right at the sun in the morning and evening, will not bode well for pictures.
-Try creating a mock scrape right now. The most important part is to make sure you find a licking branch 4-6ft high. I usually look to field edges, logging roads, and clearings in timber for my location. Use your boot to scrape away a 2ft circle on the ground–to bare dirt. Spray some Tink’s Power Scrape, trophy buck urine, or doe urine in the dirt and on the licking branch. Hang a camera over it and see what you get. I usually have deer visiting it the same day, and they continue to refresh it throughout the fall. Hunting a field and want to funnel deer near your stand? Consider doing what Mark Drury of Drury Outdoors does. He uses a “Treecoy” to create scrapes in the middle of fields. I might try it this fall.
-When walking into your stand in the afternoon, stalking, or just trying to be stealthy, consider using a turkey mouth call. Any time I need to mask my movement I put a mouth call in. When I break a branch or make some noise, I let out a few yelps or clucks. A turkey is natural, a human is not!
-After harvesting your deer this month, save the heart. It is delicious! To prepare it, cut all the fat off the muscle, and chunk it out into three sections (separating the atria and ventricles) and slice into grillable or fry-able sized pieces. You won’t be sorry!
-Want to eat acorns? Yea, they’re not that good, but if you prepare them right they can be good survival food! The trick is to boil out the tannic acid. Grab a handful or acorns (preferable white oak), shell them and slice in half. Place them in a pot of water and boil. The water will turn brown with the tannins. Rinse off the nuts and repeat the boiling process until the water does not turn brown. They are much more edible then!
-Deer have four separate stomach compartments. The rumen, omassum, abomasum and reticulum. Check each one to see what deer in your area are munching on. (Be careful of the smell, though.)
Quote of the Week: “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.”–John Muir