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A Late October Warm Spell: Mother's Nature's Deer Hunting Curse

As I have two hunters arriving for some early hunting access with the stick & string, we have discussed the unfortunate weather. Check this lovely "heat wave" that is coming to Bloomfield, IA, one of our main operating areas. I jinxed it. I told one of my hunters that this time stretch is normally offering the opposite, a cold-front, and scrape action will pick up as the bucks get their first taste of the November rut. Now, it is the opposite - a damn heat wave! Check out the next stretch up until Nov 3rd.

10/20 - 10/24 Outlook

10/24 - 10/28 Outlook

10/29 - 11/2 Outlook

Yeah, not great. The cold mornings will be nice, but those hot afternoon and evenings will definitely dampen the mood a little bit. We have seen warmer rut starts where the deer start but they get almost overheated and tired too soon.

Is it worth hunting in warm weather like this leading up to the rut? Potentially.

Of course, there are a lot of variables, so I am not going to say it is a "yes" or a "no" on that one. Warm late October into the first week of November has produced some common trends, but it has only happened once before this year since 2016 if I remember correctly. 2019 was like this and I had some hunters start their hunt late. The early hunters were encountering 70-75-degree highs though 10/31-11/4, a considerable increase from the above. The bucks were hot in that one and I don't mean hot on a doe. I would expect better outcomes this year during that same stretch shown above, but mornings could be valuable. Before Halloween, you can see it warming from 55 to 60, a slight increase in temps. If temps are rising, activity will start to slow. Yet, the actual rut isn't even turned on though.

You can be one of the lucky few to find a mature buck on the first hot doe in late October, but that is far and few between. The full rut won't likely turn on until 11/3-11/6, so we have some time for Mother Nature to turn on the A/C. Until then, the approach would be likely just evening sits, shaded areas with plenty of soft, cool, green vegetation (creek/river bottoms, low flats and dark ridges). Yet, it's Iowa and the deer are sometimes unpredictable.

Following the "October Lull" is when hunters get excited as we know we are then approaching Halloween and the following rut. It is usually getting colder. Bucks are showing swollen necks and more testosterone. Does are getting a bit spooky and even congregating a bit. It's a fun time for sure. Add that to the fall colors and crop harvest, it is a beautiful time to be in southern Iowa. Yet, some logic can be applied to the hunt strategy during this stretch...

GREEN FOOD SOURCES - If you have green food sources (clover, alfalfa, fescue, rye, etc.) deer can hit that a bit. If you have bulbed greens (brassicas) and have had a frost yet, they've started to sweeten. Evening sits on food is likely the main ticket, but you can catch them between bedding and food for a potentially earlier encounter.

GRAIN FOOD SOURCES - If you have an isolated corn or bean field that is brush-hogged or cut, especially in an area with very limited ag competition, these could also do well if it is cool enough, say a high in upper 40s or low 50s with a near freezing or colder morning. There is A LOT of food out there this time of year, and it is hard to gain an edge over the neighborhood (fields and plots both).

BEDDING AREA EDGES OR ROUTES INTO OR OUT OF BEDDING AREAS - This is a tricky one as you can totally get lucky, but the risk is blowing out the bedding area which loses its integrity for the upcoming rut. I would personally avoid doing this unless you have a perfect wind direction to the stand and entrance/exit, a perfect wind speed or higher (10-15+ MPH), and you personally watched the dumb buck walk into it the night before or morning of. Gosh, it is risky! Yet, it can be done. I've seen some guys pull this off by sleeping in the stand overnight to avoid bumping them on their way back to bed in the morning. Risk vs Reward? Ehh... not good.

If you have a spot to sit that is not too invasive, gives you plenty of area to visually cover (for scouting purposes), and you know deer are using the area frequently right. now, I'd hunt. Otherwise, with the rut approaching soon, your apples may be better off in that basket instead. That's just my two cents. Take it for what it is worth and add a grain of salt.

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