Bow Hunting Tips for Early Season Whitetails
The first several weeks of October can be some of the most exciting days spent bow hunting or they can be downright tough. Whether you are hunting your best stands right away or saving them so you do not burn them out early in the year, think about what early season bow hunting tips may make you successful the first few days of the season. October hunting is about focusing on the opportunities that present themselves and taking advantage where you can. Be more patient in your hunting approach as the season starts to unfold and consider these five October bow hunting tips.
Opening Day Archery Deer Hunting
It is opening day of bow season. Your summer has been filled with preparation from planting food plots to dialing in your Hoyt® bow. The expectations are high and the desire to get back in the Silverado and drive to the woods are overwhelming. But how do you hunt the first day and first few weeks of archery season?
When hunting early season whitetails you should focus on where you are seeing deer. Deer sightings this time of year, whether through game cameras or pre-season scouting, offer the best clues to current deer movements. Whitetails are focused on food, much of which is abundant this time of year. Concentrate on food sources where deer are actively feeding day in and day out like agricultural fields and established food plots. Deer have long forgotten about hunting pressure, the woods are mostly free from disturbance and deer movement patterns are unchanged. A perfect time to ambush a buck walking to his evening meal.
No matter which bow hunting tips and tactics you are using, consider being patient early, specifically with choosing that hunting spot on opening morning. Although the first day is a great opportunity to kill an opening day buck, the last thing you want to do is hunt a buck that is not ready, disturb an area that would be productive in the rut or force deer to change their patterns, like becoming nocturnal bruisers, because you were careless the first day.
Tip 1: Utilizing Mock Scrapes
Scrapes are not just limited to the rut. Bucks make them and use them all year long. These territorial signs define a buck’s home and let other bucks know this area is taken. Even though does use scrapes, know that bucks primarily make them. Bow hunting tips like using mock scrapes are designed to get bucks agitated and start to patrol their neighborhoods.
Location is everything when it comes to using mock scrapes. Look for edges, travel corridors and other funnels to install a mock scrape. Scout out these locations for deer sign and find an area that has plenty of deer movement sign combined with a good stand tree to set up in.
How to Make a Mock Scape
Once you find the right location for the scrape and your bow hunting setup, Start by being as scent free as possible when going in. Wear rubber gloves and prepare from a scent perspective just as you would do if planning to hunt. A mock scrape is as simple as these three steps.
- Use a small hand shovel or a sturdy branch to remove leaf cover, twigs, and other debris from approximately a 2-foot oval beneath a small tree with low hanging branches at about 4- to 6-feet above the ground.
- In the clear area, add a small amount of Bone Collector King O’ The Wood Whitetail Full Rut Buck Attractant to the freshly exposed soil.
- Revisit the scrape every few days to make sure it is fresh; however, once a buck cruises upon the mock scrape, he will usually take it over and do most of the maintaining.
Extra early season bow hunting tip for using mock scrapes: Score the bark of a few nearby trees that are upwind from the scrape to create a mock rub. Adding these visual clues may lure in a passing buck that missed the deer lure.
Tip 2: Trail Cameras for Increasing Your October Odds
Trail cameras are no secret. By now your trail cameras should have been out for months collecting pictures and identifying prime whitetail archery hunting locations. If you have been smart, you have not only focused summer deer monitoring on easy spots like field edges and main travel corridors but you have monitored low risk, high reward spots. Although spots like big woods flats and thickets will not fill your photo folder, you will get a broader perspective of your hunting area. You may even capture a few images of a mature buck, one that may be completely unknown or one that may give himself up to a perfect bow hunting in October stand location. The downside with using game cameras is at some point you have to decide to stop going in to check them. You do not want to get sloppy and unknowingly bump a mature buck or spread scent in a location simply for grabbing some last minute cam pictures. But what if the buck you have been watching for the last few months all of the sudden changes his patterns? The solution is to start using wireless trail cameras. These cameras can send photos to you for analysis all without having to enter the woods. This is one bow hunting tip that could mean the different from connecting day one or completely missing your chance.
Tip 3: Acorns
Bow hunting in October should revolve around food sources. Anything from a freshly picked cornfield, acorn drop or a robust food plot could trigger a feeding frenzy. Whatever it may be, figuring it out requires a speed-scouting mission, the use of observation stands or wireless trail cameras like we mentioned earlier to zero in on where deer will be.
The acorn, however, can be something special. If oaks are dropping acorns in your hunting area, chances are deer will not be too far away. Deer will be in the beans, corn, and other agricultural fields in July through early September. Although early on do not give up on these food sources or those like quality planted food plots, acorns start to increasingly become the staple of the deer’s diet as each day passes.
Particularly, bucks are in the process of building fat reserves for the rut and the upcoming winter, so acorns offer protein and fats necessary for readying themselves for the next month of action. Does and fawns will be the first to hit dropping acorns but remember bucks are not going to be far behind. They will be more cautious about how they approach and when they get underneath these oaks. Plan archery deer hunting setups back from the middle of these acorn smorgasbords and catch the big boys waiting it out in safety. Remember…acorns are a big reason your summer bucks disappear during the fall.
Tip 4: Early Season Pre-rut Bow Hunting Tactics
The majority of does are still a few weeks away from coming into heat, but there are still several pre-rut bow hunting tips that you can use to your advantage.
Early pre-rut can often be the best time to call in a buck. Bucks are starting to build testosterone and the number of receptive does is limited. There is a lot of competition and desire to find a doe in heat.
Pack with you two calls, a Knight & Hale grunt tube and a doe-in-heat bleat. Both are effective at blind calling. Blind calling is calling when no deer are in sight. Start a blind calling sequence with two to four doe bleats followed by several grunts of varying length and speed. Repeat a few times an hour. Any October buck in earshot but out of sight will usually appear to take a peek at either an intruding buck (grunt calling) or a doe ready for action (doe-in-heat bleat).
Rattling is usually reserved for peak rut, but light rattling can also be an effective early season bow hunting tactic. Once bucks have lost their velvet, they start to spar with each other. Keeping rattling light and infrequent to mimic friendly sparring of two bucks, which regularly occurs this time of year. Avoid hard, loud rattling that is reserved for peak rut knock-down fighting over a doe as being too aggressive can spook nearby bucks.
From the onset of seeing scrapes and rubs in the woods, you should be carrying deer scents while whitetail archery hunting. Similar to other bow hunting tips like using mock scrapes, using scent drags and “freshen up” actual scrapes near your stand can be successful in October.
Since the rut is weeks away, you want to stick to deer scents that would naturally occur this time of year. Estrus lures can work well on mature bucks and are worth a try if you have one patterned from pre-season scouting in your area. However, you are better off using a buck urine or curiosity scent in most circumstance the first few days of October. Try a scent drag soaked in your preferred curiosity lure. Remember not to run a mile long drag. Start it a few hundred yards from your bow hunting destination for two reasons. First, a buck may lose interest or get distracted by something else trying to follow your scent drag from your truck. Second, it will eat up expensive scent with no real benefit to your hunt.
With some areas of the country already well into whitetail archery hunting season and others yet to start, capitalize on October bow hunting opportunities coming up to land one of those big racks you have been watching all summer with these bow hunting tips.