The October Lull: Fact Or Fable?
The October lull is among the most talked about topics in all of deer hunting. Some are believers. Others denounce it. I wanted to know which side of the argument has the most supporters. Here's the verdict.
Two of seven interviewees felt the October lull is in fact a period of time in which daylight deer activity decreases.
Dave Skinner provided his opinion on the October lull.
It can be difficult to keep up with deer in October, Skinner said. Some years, there is an abundance of acorns. Other years, there are hardly any. Crop rotations, weather, [and other factors] all can make it seem as though deer have disappeared. Buck activity definitely seems to be more at nighttime during the middle part of the month. To be honest, in Kentucky, our season comes in early and in most years I'm thankful for the break that is the lull. Come about October 24 or so, I know scrape activity has picked up significantly. Bucks are showing up a little earlier on camera, and the rut is close enough that a big one might mess up. I start increasing the amount of time I'm in the woods.
Daniel McVay, cohost of Buckventures, is sold on the lull.
I believe in the lull, McVay said. I have noticed the significant drop in mature buck movements during the pre-rut. I believe that mature bucks are smart enough to know what time it is and have lived it. They know they are going to need the energy to sustain a long breeding season. Earlier in [the] season, bucks will be at my feeders sometimes five to eight times a night for short periods, but right before the pre-rut, they will usually only come once. I think younger bucks haven't lived it to know. Mature bucks just know [and are] smarter than we give them credit for. That being said, every deer has its own personality. Some, I think, never figure it out.
Tyler Ridenour, of Antler Geeks, thinks some hunters have it all wrong.
What people perceive as the lull is actually whitetails' reactions to hunting pressure, in my opinion, Ridenour said. In an area with little to no hunting pressure, deer—and especially buck—activity will steadily increase throughout October as the rut draws closer. At least, that's what I've found to be true over the years.
Clint McCoy, a deer biologist with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, has conducted research that contradicts the lull.
I think there is a perception of an October lull, McCoy said. It comes down to the cause. Does it come down to movement or pressure? What is really happening is deer reacting to pressure. For me, I've seen in our research [that] there is not a decrease in activity [during October].
Randy Birdsong, a cohost of HeadHunters TV, attributed numerous factors.
I don't think there's a lull, Birdsong said. I think the so-called lull is just bad weather aligning with a bad moon phase, giving what looks like a lull. I think you can still have some great hunting in what is considered the October lull by aligning the right moon phase with incoming weather fronts
Nate Hosie, also a cohost of HeadHunters TV, thinks the perceived lull is due to different factors.
As long as I've hunted, I think that deer movement is for sure not always the best in early to mid October. That doesn't mean to give up on hunting then, Hosie said. I have seen where big bucks continue to be somewhat patternable even up into October, depending on pressure. It is also a time of the year that temperatures remain warm. In some states, the first cold fronts that come in can be a great time to capitalize on big deer. Keep the faith, and know that when it's meant to be, it's gonna be.
Phillip Vanderpool, host of The Virtue, put an explanation point on the verdict.
The bucks come out of velvet, and bucks are adapting to changes around them, especially with food sources, Vanderpool said. But you have to dig deeper. They're saving energy for the rut. Heat has everything to do with it in October.
The older class deer will remain in their core area, he continued. The October lull is deer moving from their summer patterns to fall ranges and hunters aren't seeing them. The deer are off the field. Harvesting crops are a big part of that. You have to get in tight. They aren't moving like they will be.
I don't believe in the lull. It seems the majority of hunters agree with me. This seemingly lack of activity is a direct result of changing food sources. In my opinion, the lull is simply an excuse for not seeing deer.