Keep an eye on the weather, wind, and moon phase as deer movement ramps up
The last week of October can be a mixed bag of opportunities and experiences for hunters. It traditionally marks the beginning of the pre-rut. It's an extremely exciting time to be in the woods as things will turn from cold to hot any day now.
Hunters need to keep a close eye on the weather this week. October in the Northwest is known for wild patterns that can call for everything from a T-shirt to a snowsuit. Especially during this pre-rut timeline, weather conditions can really affect deer movement. Any cold snap, snowstorm, or change in the barometric pressure will get deer on their feet during the day. In states like Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, the warm, strong chinook winds will keep mule deer bedded. But if you can get out before or after one of these windy days, you're likely to find a lot of deer up and moving.
If you're among those hunters who believe strongly in correlating deer movement with moon phases, this is a week to watch. Oct. 20 marked the full moon. During the full moon, many believe, deer will move less during the typical peak hours of dawn and dusk and more at midday. Friends out in the field this week did report increased movement during daylight, including feeding and some younger bucks exhibiting seeking behaviors.
The new moon arrives Nov. 4, which means the nights will be dark. Watch for increased activity during the peak morning and evening hunting hours, as well as during the afternoon. The first few days of November are an interesting week to watch regardless of what you believe — because in addition to a new moon and cooler weather, you should expect to see a lot more rut activity with bucks searching for does. All signs are pointing to it being a good week in the woods. And if you can make it out for a full day, it's not a bad week for that.
Friends report seeing a number of fresh whitetail rubs and scrapes. And while whitetails across the Northwest still seem to be hanging out in large groups of bucks and does, this pre-rut activity provides some interesting opportunities. This is the part of the pre-rut where whitetails are still in their routine. Finding scrapes and rubs will alert you to bucks in the area, and if you can pattern them, you might be able to get a shot.
Jackie Holbrook is an outdoor writer who splits her time between fly-fishing glacier-fed rivers in Alaska and chasing bugles and bucks through the mountains of Montana.
(Don't Miss: Why Deer Hunting on Halloween is Scary Good)