Whether it’s the result of changing weather patterns impacting the way the deer on your favorite hunting property are behaving, or pre-rut preparations that leave you with fewer daylight deer sightings than usual, everyone has to deal with a hunting season dry spell every once in awhile.
It’s a fact of the sport: not every day is going to be successful, and the more you go out over the course of a season, the more times you are going to come home empty-handed at the end of the day.
Still, the fact that everyone experiences dry spells every once in awhile doesn’t make said dry spells any more fun when you are actually in them. After going days or even weeks without glimpsing a buck during your hunting hours, even the most patient among us can be ready to throw up our hands, tear up our hunting license, pack our gear away in the shed, and spend our mornings sleeping in and our weekend afternoons watching football.
Our advice? Don’t give up. If you’re coming up empty in your hunting, change up your patterns.
Just because you aren’t seeing the deer doesn’t mean they aren’t out there, but it probably is an indication that you are approaching things from the wrong angle. Don’t be afraid to leave your trusty treestand or reposition your blind during a dry spell. Who knows, something as simple as a change in scenery can sometimes be enough to change your luck. The hunting gods are fickle like that.
Normally, the dry spells come in the pre-rut periods of early to mid-October. If that’s the case, you might want to be careful not to be too rash in changing up your hunting periods. October may be known as a slow hunting time, but the rut is when you will score all your big bucks, and you don’t want to mess that fruitful period up for yourself by spooking all the deer with aggressive tendencies. In other words, if you want to have success in October and during the rut, you might need to be looking at two or more different properties to hunt on this season.
A great way to break up a dry spell, pre-rut or not, is to widen your target list. While most hunters just want to kill bucks, many male deer stay secluded and nocturnal during the early hunting season, and you won’t see much of them unless you start breaking curfew hours or charging into bedding areas.
Break your buck frustration by taking down a doe or two. In doing so, you will get some meat for your freezer, a few kills to liven up your confidence, and enough hunting action to tide you over until the rut begins.
If you are looking for bucks, however, you either need to watch for a cold front – colder weather typically brings bucks out of the woodwork in more hunter-friendly daylight hours – or get more aggressive and invasive with your attack strategies.
Maybe set up closer to known bedding areas so you can pick bucks off as the head off after a snooze, or track those same bucks to food sources you didn’t know existed. In the pre-rut period, paranoid bucks will often seek out more secluded food sources so they can stay under cover. Finding those food sources and staking them out may well be your key to a dry-spell-ending kill.