October Deer Tip: Hunt Mast And Browse

GreenacornslrSome good hunters I know don’t hunt their best stands until around Halloween, and then they hunt them hard for the next 3 weeks. Their strategy is sound: put no pressure on bucks until they start rutting and moving more in daylight hours.

 

Good in theory, yes, but I don’t believe that approach is practical for most of us. You’re busy…you hunt when you can. If that happens to be in October, great. The woods are beautiful, the weather is nice and there are fewer people in the timber than there will be come November. There are opportunities to get your buck, and here is one thing to keep in mind.

Grant Woods, one of the premier whitetail scientists in America and a seasoned archer who hunts as many days as he can in October, says to key on what the deer are eating  now.

“If you’re not seeing deer in October, you aren’t hunting in the right places,” he says. “Deer change their behavior as they go from summer to fall patterns. Our telemetry studies don’t show any let up in feeding activity during the so-called ‘lull’ in October. You’ve just got to find them.”

According to Grant, the main reason deer seemingly disappear during early October is a change in their diets, and subsequently a change in their movements.  In summer and throughout September they fed often in crop fields, where they were visible. “But now many deer feed on browse and mast inside the woods, and they aren’t as easily seen,” he says. “Mast is a very strong attractant, and bucks will abandon their summer forage patterns when acorns start dropping. Find the mast and you’ll find some bucks.”

Most hunters know to look for acorns. But an overlooked strategy is not to focus enough on thickets in the woods, and the cover and browse they provide for deer. As they mender through the October woods between bedding covers and mast trees and fields, bucks veer here and there to walk through thickets, where they linger and nibble leaves, buds and stems. Look for trails with recent tracks leading to and from thickets; fresh rubs and scrapes nearby make the setup even better. Play the prevailing wind, and hang a stand for an ambush.

 

DIY Deer Project: Wood Pallet Ground Blind

Saw this and thought it was a cool way to save a few bucks.

As the story indicates shipping pallets are usually free, as many businesses just want to get rid of them. You haul them off and everybody’s happy:

pallet blind 1 pete young

The one-man, full-height blind consists of 6 pallets, two 2×2 corner strips, and a handful of wood screws….  have all your pieces cut (including shooting windows) and ready to assemble prior to going into the woods with it. Then all you need is a cordless screwdriver and you can erect the blind at your hunting spot…

pallet blind 2

For a roof add a couple of wood slats and a scrap piece of tarp…staple roofing felt around the inside to make it warmer…wrap your DIY shooting house with camouflage burlap or netting…add on more pallets to expand and create a two-man blind.

There’s a blueprint for the pallet blind click here to see it.

Story and photo credit: Pete Young

 

October 20: The Best Deer Hunting Starts This Weekend

laruebuckiowaHistorical “rut curves” assembled by whitetail biologists over decades show that bucks really begin to rev up their scraping around October 20. Better yet, the data show that 5 to 7 percent of a herd’s does are bred by bucks on October 21, give or takes a few days. That’s not a lot, but good things happen when bucks start to rip scrapes and prowl for the first estrus does. The more they are on their feet, the better your chances of shooting one.

The big thing that can kill October hunting is warm weather. But when a cold snap blows in and drops the temperature 20 or 30 degrees, perfect. The cooler weather will kick deer into moving more. That is happening in many areas right now, so plan to get out there.

Stand to try: this weekend: Hang a stand on an oak ridge within 200 yards or so of a corn or soybean field. Set up near a well-used deer trail or creek crossing where the wind is right. It is a good acorn year in many areas. Many deer will browse on the ridge before moving out to the crops at dusk, if they ever leave the ridge at all. Be ready.

Tactic to try: Try setting 2 scent wicks near your stand, one doused with buck urine and the other with hot doe. (Remember to check your regulations; with CWD a concern, some states have banned real deer urine, and you’ll have to use a synthetic scent.) When bucks start to prowl, they may circle in to either lure, to fight a rival or love on a gal. Have your grunt call ready and blow it occasionally. A buck might hear it and veer over.

New Research: Deer Jumping The String

grant deer drop jump stringMy friend Dr. Grant Woods, one of the top whitetail scientists in the world, recently produced a must-watch video with some new observations about deer jumping the bow string.

Grant worked with an engineer and avid bowhunter who devised a computerized device to record the sound of a bow going off, test the speed of gravity, etc.  Sounds complex, but when you watch and listen to the video it’s much clearer.

They set up a range…took shots at 20, 30 and 40 yards with bows that shot between 258 and 315 fps… and recorded the data. Then they watched many video clips of actual hunts, with deer ducking and twirling as they heard the sound of bow shots. Grant and team put it all together and came up with a few observations:

When a bow goes off and a deer hears it, many of them instinctively drop toward the ground, but some do not. Some old advice is still good advice—aim at the lower third of a deer’s vitals on every shot. Deer drops, you get middle or high lungs. Deer does not drop, your arrow pierces lower lungs and heart.

With their shot tests in this study driving home the point how much a deer might drop—maybe 6 inches to more than 10 inches at 40 yards—Grant and colleagues studied the demeanor and position of deer that ducked the string on the hunting videos. They noticed that alert deer (pressured, sense something is not right, etc.) are much more likely to drop at the bow shot than a calm deer. It’s always best to shoot at a deer that appears calm and unaware of your presence.

This is new and major: Grant noticed that a deer with its head down tends to drop more and faster than a deer with its head up. The theory is that with its head down, a deer can easily drop its front end, then throw his head up in a flash as it wheels and bolts away.  This happens so often that Grant will now try to avoid shots at deer with their head down.

With the data and observation driving home how much a deer might drop, Grant says he will now be re-evaluating his shots at whitetails. He goes so far as to say he hopes to keep most shots 20 yards and under, and will carefully evaluate 30-yard shots. He says a hunter has to be extremely careful about taking a 40-yard shot, and now he’ll likely pass at that distance.

Watch the video.

Nebraska Giant Bow Buck, 196 Inches!

ne 2018 giantAndy Morgan, co-host of American Archer on Outdoor Channel, shot one of the largest whitetails ever on film with bow and arrow last week in central Nebraska. The giant green-scores 196 5/8, and is believed to be at least 7 years old.

Morgan, from Dayton, Tennessee, has been hunting Nebraska for 15 years. He encountered this buck as a 3-year-old, but passed on him. Andy didn’t see the deer for the next 3 years, and thought he was gone. But the giant popped up on a trail cam earlier this year, and he knew immediately this would be his target buck for the 2018 archery season.

Andy got his opportunity a few days ago and capitalized. He shot the buck at 46 yards from a tree stand he had hung just a couple of hours earlier. It was a perfect double-lung, and the deer ran 200 yards before dropping.

Takeaway: The best way to kill a big deer sometimes is to go on sneak attack for a quick-strike ambush. If you have evidence a buck is walking in daylight, don’t be afraid to go in, hang a stand, and hunt right then and there, like Andy did for this giant.

Way to go man, great job and awesome buck.