Year Round Approach to Big Bucks – 5 Tips for October

joe runde public hunting land wisconsin

With October around the corner, state archery seasons will almost all be open…game time!! Successful hunts all come down to timing, right? You must be in the right place at the right time and there are many things to consider when timing your hunts. Joe Runde was in the right spot when he shot that awesome public land Wisconsin buck in the picture above! Many of my September tips will still apply but here are 5 more tips for October that will help you consistently kill big whitetail bucks like Joe’s:

  • Watch the Moon
    Be careful in October. I think it’s your best chance to kill the buck you’ve been scouting, but your timing needs to be just right. I believe moon phase is critical. Watch for when the moon peaks during daylight hours, specifically either dawn or dusk. I usually reserve a couple October hunts for specific bucks for days when “everything is right”. In October in the midwest, watch October 4th and 5th for mornings and October 18-20 for evenings.
  • Watch for Cold Fronts
    Weather is also key early because most of October is typically slow overall. If you get a cold snap, bucks tend to be on their feet. If you get that cold snap around those good moon times, drop everything and get on stand!
  • Sleep In
    It takes a special spot to be able to safely hunt it in mornings in early season. Most of the time, mature bucks are bedded before daylight in October anyway. If you’re going to hunt mornings, wait until the end of the month or when you get that cold snap on a good moon. If you’re confident you can get in and out without blowing your chances, go for it. If you have a lot of spots, then you have more opportunities to take chances, but if not, be patient.
  • Take Control of Your Schedule
    Consistent success can also be attributed to those who have control of their schedule. This is a BIG reason I’m self employed. Hunting a lot is a factor but they need to be quality hunts versus quantity… a veteran hunter has learned when it’s time to go and when it’s time to sit back. You watch the weather constantly… you stay alert for every little nuance that might affect whether your target buck is where you need him to be or not in order to hunt him. You’ve learned his circuits by now, you know how long he tends to stick around a property. Be ready to capitalize! The wind needs to be in both your favor AND the buck’s!
  • Be Smart with Trail Cameras
    Use trail cams NOT to pick specific spots but rather to inventory when your buck is or isn’t around. Don’t burn out your spots by checking cameras too often. Cell cameras are awesome so I use my Covert Black Ops cams when I can. Otherwise put them in places you can get in and out of easily, and try to check them during or before a rain shower.
  • Bonus Tip: Food Plots…Don’t Hunt Them
    I live and primarily hunt in Michigan, and the deer don’t get much more pressured than here! If you want to kill a mature, pressured buck, you won’t do it in daylight over a food plot. You need to key on his staging area just off of his bedding area. We discuss this in detail in Hunting Marsh Bucks and Hill Country Bucks.

Mistakes to Avoid in October

Most guys get too eager to hunt and they burn out their spots too early. They typically just pick rut stands and hunt them anytime. Sometimes it doesn’t matter because they hunt rut stands before they’re even good so the deer aren’t there to spook anyway, but most times they’re just alerting the deer to their presence and urging the deer into nocturnal behavior. Most guys lose patience and hunt their target buck in the wrong conditions. This is a tough thing to do! You watch a buck all summer, maybe even right up to season and you KNOW what he’s going to do… BUT…the wind is wrong… do you have the smarts to know when to hunt him and the mental toughness to AVOID hunting him when you shouldn’t?


Good luck with your next buck!

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