Does the combination of the October Lull, a warm weather whitetail rut and shrinking deer numbers have you squirming in your swampers? Mid season hunting opportunities for mature bucks are predictably available if you use the following tips each year.
*My collection of Advanced Whitetail Strategy Books are available with deer hunting and habitat tips for hunters of all experience levels. The most common phrase I hear is, "I wish I would have read these books many years ago!"
3 Critical Mid Season Mature Buck Tips
The mid season portion of the annual hunting marathon should find you with increasing deer numbers (in particular mature bucks), instead of decreasing opportunities. In fact a great chunk of hunting land actually improves throughout the lazy days of the early season, the dreaded October Lull and annual flury of the whitetail rut. Here are 3 tips for mature bucks that will get your mid season really cranking for successfuly targeting the oldest bucks in the neighborhood, every year:
1. Low Pressure Habitat Rules All
It doesn't matter how great your food plots are or how many deer bedding areas you have on your land, if your habitat is over-pressured it isn't worth much in the eyes of the local whitetail herd. Safety rules when it comes to a mature buck choosing a place to call home during the Fall. In fact, I have experienced that several bucks will key on parcels of 40 acres or less by mid season, when the hundreds of acres that surround the area have been over-hunted.
It may help to the think of the entire season as a marathon. Slow and stead wins the race! As each day passes the number of acres of quality unpressured habitat is chipped away. Mature bucks are the absolute most low-pressure seeking deer in the herd, so don't be fooled by huge numbers of does on your land. Often the best mid season huntin lands don't have the best habitat, in fact don't be suprised if they are owned by non-hunters. Why? Because the lack of hunting pressure on even extremely small parcels of 10 acres or less can often be packed with mature bucks by the end of the hunting season. Simply, they have no place else to go during the daytime. What type of habitat would you rather own: Great food and cover that attracts a huge nighttime herd or average quality low pressure hunting land that holds a healthy supply of mature bucks during the daylight hours?
2. High Quality Deer Habitat Matters - Slightly
If you own private land or spend a lot of boot-time scouting public land, then you don't need to bank on merely hunting low pressure acres of potential daytime mature buck habitat. Instead, you can find or build high quality amounts of food and cover to add to the mix. While no amount of food and cover can overcome over-pressured hunting lands, hunting high quality habitat certainly helps!
Not only do the number of acres decrease that are unpressured enough to attract quality mature buck hunting opportunities as the season progresses, the amount of quality Fall food and cover shrinks drastically as well. A combination of greens such as brassicas, oats, rye, clover, peas and even late planed soybeans can be all that you need if you match the seed variety with your conditions. Adding corn to the mix and even early planed soybeans can also be a great way to boost the quality of food on your land. Also, recent clearcuts on public land can act as both high attraction food and cover for mature bucks to key on and Hinge Cut Bedding Areas on private lands can do the same, if built correctly.
3. Study Your Neighbors
It always helps to get along. How do you get along with your deer hunting neighbors? One way is to let them have their space. As the season passes into the rut and later into gun season, I find the more quality cover that I can place between myself and my neighbor, the better! By keeping tabs -if possible- for when my neighbors are hunting and where, I make sure that I choose my stand locations that allow me to sit on the downwind side of quality daytime bedding areas. This is especially critical during the rut and many gun season openers, as the amount of hunting pressure peaks for the entire season. If you have a neighbor that enjoys sitting on the fenceline it sometimes pays to use your property line as your access route. However, when it comes to high pressure periods of the season, consider leaving a large patch of cover between yourself and your neighbor, in particular when you can approach and sit on the downwind side.
When hunters enter the season deer are scattered within many different habitat types and numbers of acres across the entire whitetail landscape. Then it happens! A little hunting pressure is added here and a little more over there, so that by the time the middle of the season rolls around, an army of camo and orange have invaded nearly every portion of the habitat. "Nearly every portion", is a key point because if you hunt the very small % of land that isn't spoiled by hunting pressure, don't be suprised if the most mature bucks in the neighborhood fall into your lap by mid season, nearly every year. And if you can add a little food and quality cover while making sure you are considering your neighbor's movements? Well, you will be well on your way to turning your mid season hunting blues into annual consistency of predictable mature buck success. Oh and along the way, don't be suprised if your patient plan of mid season hunting strategy significantly improves the early season, October Lull and rut.