october lull

6 Tips to Harvest a Buck During the October Lull

Between opening day and the start of the rut, there's an awkward time in whitetail deer season. Bucks are starting to feel some hunting pressure and reluctant to take big risks like they might during the rut. This somewhat-annoying time in deer season is referred to as the October lull. Sometimes descriptions of this phase are exaggerated, with some hunters suggesting that this is a period where all of the mature bucks disappear or go completely nocturnal, but this simply isn't true. After all, deer don't vanish, and for the most part, they still need to feed at some point during the day. So what's going on?

In reality, this is the time of the year where whitetail deer will make a dramatic shift in their primary food sources. All summer long you had mature velvet bucks feeding in those lush soybean fields, but now their focus is on another tasty treat: acorns and woody browse.

Due to the more spread out abundance of food during this phase, it can seem impossible to effectively pattern a buck, but this isn't the case. It just takes a little more work and an adapted strategy. Here are some of my tips that have helped me harvest bucks during the infamous October lull.

Watch the Weather

Whitetail buck deer in frost fog early morning

The factor that I pay the most attention to by far during the October lull is the weather. Nothing will get an October buck on his feet faster to eat than a big cold front. Check your weather forecast, and look for a dramatic drop in temperatures—preferably drops to the daily high, rather than the lows. This will result in an instinctive urge for a buck to get out of his bed earlier than usual, which will give you better odds for an opportunity.

Move Your Trail Cameras

october lull

If all of your trail cameras are still over mineral sites or an open trail leading to an ag field, it's time to switch it up. Bucks are spending a lot more time feeding deep within the woods, and your camera will need to go deeper if you want to gather intel. This is a great time to deploy cellular cameras near bedding areas. Using cellular cams will minimize the footprint you leave on a particular area, and will keep your scent away as much as possible. Monitor your cams and only hunt when the conditions call for it, or when a buck is showing up regularly.

Find the Acorns

october lull

An old school hunting friend of mine used to tell me, "In October, if you can find the acorns, you found the deer." While it's sort of a blanket statement, there is a great deal of wisdom to it. In fact, one of my favorite places to set up during the entire month of October is downwind of a thick oak patch.

Finding other highly attractive trees can increase your odds even more. Chestnuts as well as several fruit trees like apples or pears can be extremely successful during this phase of the whitetail season. Just because bucks aren't hitting the ag fields doesn't mean they aren't feeding heavily. Find their new food source and you'll see some great activity.

Check for Scrapes

timing the rut

During the second half of October, as bucks start to prepare for the rut, primary and secondary scrapes will begin to appear all over the place. While a good majority of these scrapes will be secondary, the larger and more active primary scrapes can be your ticket to filling that October tag. Typically when I find an early scrape that has an overhanging licking branch, I like to place a trail camera on it to monitor its activity. This may take some trial and error, or perhaps multiple trail cameras, but if you can hone in on the most active primary scrape in the area and set up about 20 yards downwind of it, you're in for a real treat as bucks will frequently scent check this spot and use it to claim their territory for upcoming breeding.

Be Mobile


Becoming a mobile hunter during October is crucial. There are times where I will hunt a spot, knowing that the likelihood of a harvest is low, in hopes of gaining some intel. Because of this, I like to bounce around to multiple areas during the lull, hoping to key in on some core areas. This is a great time to utilize climbing treestands, hand and hunt setups, and saddles. These allow you to be more mobile and give you a more versatile approach for adapting your strategy in a pinch.

Make Every Sit Count

october lull

Whether you've patterned a buck and are ready to ambush him, or hunting to gather more intel, ensure that you make every hunt count. One of the biggest influences on whitetail activity is disturbance as a result of human pressure. Because of this, you need to go into every hunt with a purpose when the conditions call for it. If you're looking to sit in a particular spot and the wind isn't right, don't risk it. A whitetail's routine is extremely delicate and needs to be treated as such. Check your conditions, develop a strategy, and ambush when the stars align.

Being in the woods during the October lull can seem like a waste of time, but it isn't. I have had great success over the years hunting in October by using these strategies. Find the right sign, monitor your cameras, be willing to adapt to the ever changing conditions of whitetail hunting, and rely on the weather. Add these tips to your setup and you might be wrapping your tag around that monster buck before November even rolls around.

READ MORE: Learn the Rut Hunting Mistakes Hunters Make Every Year