What is the October Lull?
When archery season opens, it seems like the action can’t get any better. Deer sightings are plenty and maybe you’ve even harvested a nice buck or a doe. But then, all those bucks seem to disappear, seemingly overnight. It may even be hard to spot a mature doe as the calendar turns to October.
Hunters have deemed this the “October lull,” a period when bucks become nocturnal and even more elusive than before. Perhaps hunting pressure is to blame. Whatever the reason, as the pre-rut and rut kicks into gear, the bucks come out of hiding and the lull is gone just as quickly and mysteriously as it arrived.
Is the October Lull Real?
While anecdotal observations from hunters have certainly aided in understanding whitetail behavior, in this case, they don’t. The lack of deer sightings isn’t due to a drop in deer movement, but rather is completely related to hunter perception.
A Field & Stream article examined this very question with the help of specialist Dr. Mark Conner, who works at Chesapeake Farms in Maryland. Along with a graduate student, Conner used GPS collars to record locations of mature bucks throughout the day. What they found is that buck movement increases consistently, starting in late summer and continuing through the rut.
“Specifically, bucks moved a total distance of about one-and-a-half miles in a 24-hour period during late summer, almost two miles per day by early October, and two-and-a-half by the rut,” the article states. “In other words, buck movement in reality picks up during the so-called October lull.”
Deer aren’t becoming nocturnal during this time period. Rather, they are changing their patterns, and not taking the same routes as pressure increases. But it’s more than that. Food sources are also changing this time of year - persimmons are fewer and acorns are beginning to dry up as well. That means the herd will be searching in areas of your property they may have not been before.
Stay mobile in order to harvest a deer during this period. When the herd moves, you should too. If your sightings have decreased in the food plots, find natural browse in the hardwoods with plenty of sign around. Again, bucks are only increasing movement this time of year, so look for heavily used trails that will connect bedding areas with food sources. Those travel corridors are where you should hang a stand.
A trail camera will aid in keeping tabs on buck movement until the rut begins.
Also, put a few trail cameras around your property. This will provide insight into where the bucks have moved to. Be mindful of how much time you’re spending in a particular area. Since the deer are now being pressured, they’ll be sensitive to human presence. Don’t hunt stands or check your cameras too often. Remain mobile and have plenty of hunting locations, which is also advantageous for varying wind conditions.
While your buddies at camp blame the October lull for their lack of deer sightings, you can rest easy knowing that there’s no supernatural phenomenon at work here. Knowing the causes of the change in deer behavior, you can adapt accordingly. The action should only increase from here on as the rut approaches.