The #1 time to shoot a core mature buck on your land can start as early as October 20th; are you ready? A core buck is a "local" buck. He is a homebody. He is the kind of buck you are getting pictures of in and around shooting hours, on a regular basis. Do you have a neighborhood giant you seem to get pictures of randomly, during the middle of the night? That particular mature buck is Not a core buck, instead choosing to live at least a parcel away or more.
During the last 10 days of October the action really heats up for a resident giant on your land. For the entire growing season he has risen to his true potential of one of the greatest beasts of the land in body size, antlers and attitude! During the Summer months he silently grew to majestic proportions, while lying in wait for a rut-crazed explosion during the end of October. And then it happens.
As a major cold front unleashes it's hints of Winter's fury, a ticking time bomb of mature buck attitude begins, and so does your #1 time to kill a local, core mature buck on the lands that you hunt. If you don't have a local mature buck...well, you will probably need to wait until the middle of the rut and early November to really get serious. But if you do have a target buck close to one of your bowstands-don't miss out!
Toe-Numbing Late October Mornings
As temperatures dip into the 20s and 30s during the last 10 days of October, a mature buck is ready to go. There is not a more definitive period of time to kill a buck that has chosen his daytime bedding area in and around the land that you hunt. A calm and cold morning will push a buck to expand his daytime bedding area of a 1/2 acre, to several acres or more during the morning hours. The afternoon heat of the day serves to deminish buck movements quickly during this Pre-rut period of the rut, and when compared to the morning hours, a giant will move only a fraction of the hours during legal shooting light. Why should you take a morning sit during this time of year?
1. A mature buck is primed and ready!
2. Morning hours during the end of October features several times more daylight to take advantage of buck movements.
3. October daytime bedding areas for mature bucks are fairly easy to define.
4. A seasoned giant can be counted on to cruise his tight, core daytime area of several acres.
5. This is by far the most definitive and predictable to time to "go in for the kill" on a mature buck who has established residenced on your land.
*Late October may not be that great of a time to hunt, if you have burned out your stands prematurely. When planning the perfect Pre Rut hunt, don't forget about the power of a First Sit!
Missed October Hunting Opportunities
Many hunters gear up for the early days of November, when often they have already missed the greatest oppotunities of the year. Where will a mature buck be in November? Who knows! Is he cruising in and around your own land, your neighbor's land...or potentially 2 miles away after having difficulty finding a receptive doe in your area? As the rut expands into early November, so do the number of options for a buck's mid-rut wanderings; but that does not typically apply to the last 10 days of October. The steps needed to take advantage of this period of the season may seem simple, however they involve quite a bit of preperation, patiences and timing.
- Identify core mature buck bedding areas on the lands that you hunt
- Prepare stand locations that set-up on trails leading to core bedding areas, away from, between or on the downwind edge. These stands need to be prepared prior to an October mature buck will be using the area, typically by early September at the latest.
- Avoid your core bedding area stands at all costs! During the weeks leading up to your hunt, avoid spooking the bedding area itself as well as the movements to and from the bedding area. I personally like to use a "3-4 weeks of forgiveness rule", meaning that it is probably acceptable to take an opening day of bow season chance at a core buck bedding area stand location, but that's about it. However with that being said, nearly all of my late October mature buck harvests have take place from stands that hadn't been visited by a human since early Summer. Being conservative is always the best choice!
- Wait for a major cold front (7-10 degree temp drop+) to pass through the area during the last 10 days of October, and then access a core bedding area stand location by staying well away from food sources and staging areas, during the first morning after the cold front passes.
- Worry most about where you scent is blowing while on stand, and not as much where it may be blowing while you access the stand. Once you are in your stand...you are safe, and it helps to take advantage of nearby road, house, cliff, waterway, open hardwoods or pastureland, to safely capture your downwind scent.
If you need to rely on the random wanderings of a mature buck in order to have a chance at filling your tag, a late October morning sit is not for you. However if a local giant calls the property that you hunt, "home"...there is not a more predictable time to fill your tag. It's now the 20th of September, and you still have another 30 days to plan for your next whitetail hunt of a lifetime. There are 2 questions that I would like to ask you:
1. Are you ready? and if not... 2. Can you be ready?
-for late October mature bucks.