Mast crops such as apples, pears, or acorns are among the favorite foods of deer during October. The best apple or pear trees are those that are located close to heavy cover with a good stand tree located within easy bow range. Trees that are growing out in the open are normally ignored by deer until after dark. However, trails leading to these trees can ‘be excellent places to intercept bucks.
Bucks are notorious for bedding down close to a sweet food source such as apples or pears. The route leading into the stand must be one the hunter can walk quietly. Remove dry sticks from the trail and use a pruning tool to remove limbs that could snag on clothing or potentially make noise.
Stands of acorn producing oaks are a little tougher to hunt than apples or other fruit trees. Because the acorn producing trees are often scattered out over a considerable area, there’s no way to predict exactly which trees deer will feed under. Sometimes it takes a couple hunts to ,determine the spots-on-the-spot deer prefer.
Deer seem to favor the flavor of white oak acorns over red oak fruit. If both types of trees grow in an area, deer will concentrate on the white oak versions until they are completely cleaned up. White oak trees have leaves with rounded lobes and the bark is shaggy. Red oak trees have leaves with pointed lobes and a smooth gray bark.
When hunting acorns, plan on being in the stand an hour before first light in the morning. For evening hunts figure on being in the woods a couple hours before prime time. Deer are so attracted to acorns they often can be found feeding during the middle of the day.
During the early season, warm weather often slows down deer movement. Many times these animals don’t leave their beds until late in the evening. Scoring in warm weather often requires hunting close to bedding sites.
In warm weather deer favor bedding sites in shaded areas near water. Moisture in the ground evaporates keeping the air cool and comfortable.
The best places to explore are low lands along a creek, stream, or pond. Areas littered with tag alders, willows, and tall grasses are prime bedding sites.
Hunting the edges of bedding cover is a good way to pattern bucks that rise late from their beds. Plan on staying at least 100 yards away from bedding cover and select a stand site that can be reached quietly.
A grunt call can be an invaluable tool for luring a buck within bow range. The trick to using a grunt call is to wait until the buck shows himself, then use the call to get his attention. Call softly at first. If the buck doesn’t hear the call, try calling louder until the buck responds.
By watching the body language of the deer you can tell when he hears the grunt. Do not call when the animal is focused on your location. Wait until the buck settles down and walks a few steps before calling again.
To be successful with a grunt call you must get the buck’s attention without allowing the deer to pinpoint your exact location. By muffling the end of the call or pointing the call in different directions the sound can be “thrown” to keep the buck guessing.
Early season bowhunting centers around the sweet foods deer can’t resist. Take advantage of this weakness while you can. Soon the rut will start. When it does, food will be the last thing on a buck’s mind.