Early cold fronts continue putting deer on their feet, but heavy mast is creating challenging hunting
October is off to a strong start in much of the country, and especially so in the Mid-south. Though it’s been on the dry side, temperatures have been seasonal to below average in much of the region, and that’s put deer on the move.
I took a quick scouting mission yesterday in western Kentucky ahead of this weekend’s youth-only gun season, and I was shocked at how many large, active scrapes I found. Most were in transition areas, like timbered creek bottoms adjacent to crop fields and food plots, but I found a group of five heavily used scrapes on the spine of a white oak ridge, too.
Speaking of oaks, I mentioned this year’s bumper mast crop in last week’s report. It seems most of the red and white oak acorns have hit the ground at this point. The amount of food on the ground under the most productive trees is staggering. I have a cellular camera watching a cluster of white oaks in the middle of a small food plot, and it’s a feat to walk under that tree right now without rolling an ankle. I’m getting photos of deer there at all hours, mostly does and fawns during the day, but a few nice bucks at night.
East of here, veteran Virginia deer hunter and Realtree contributor Mike Hanback says the cool weather has deer moving more than normal. “Scrapes are picking up, and there’s some spotty chasing, mostly from young bucks,” he says. “That doesn’t mean an early rut, though. History says warm weather will move back in at some point in late October and November.”
Realtree’s Tyler Jordan had a similar report from South Georgia. “There’ve been a lot of new rubs show up in the last week and a half,” he says. “Scrapes are picking up here some, too, and I’ve seen some young bucks sparring. No chasing here, yet. Highs have been in the upper 60s and 70s, but it should be cooling down the first of next week, with highs in the lower 60s.”
It’s cloudy, warm, and breezy on a Friday afternoon as I write this, but another big front is bearing down from the Midwest right now. It’s supposed to be rainy tonight, and highs this weekend are forecast to barely break 60 degrees. I’ll be hunting with my son during the youth season, and we’ll be watching white oak ridges from ladder stands during morning hunts, and then sitting over food plots in the evenings. Though abundant mast can definitely alter feeding patterns this time of year, green food sources are still the best places to reliably see deer during evening hunts, particularly in the wake of a big cold front. I’ll begin sitting in a stand most evenings myself starting next week, and will probably try a few morning hunts the following week after that.
Don’t leave home without a grunt call in the days and weeks ahead, and don’t be afraid to try a rattling sequence sometime soon. My best success rattling for bucks in this neck of the woods usually happens Halloween Week.
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