OPENING DAY - EARLY OCTOBER
October 1st - 10th +/-
Every year, October 1st marks the opening of the whitetail archery season here in Iowa. Now, you don't catch many non-residents hunting here at this time unless they own land, have it managed, and have patterned a big buck in daylight during recent days. This isn't the best time of the year to hunt compared to the rut, and when waiting 4-6 years to hunt, it's more reasonable and rational to put your apples into the rut basket. Most of the people bowhunting this early do not have a buck patterned in daylight, but because they're residents and local to their hunting area, they go out. After all, you can't kill them on the couch. Some guys get lucky. Most don't though. This is arguably the trend from October 1st to the last 7-10 days of October. Why? I'll explain further below.
Photo (above): This photo was the closest to nocturnal that I ever got of him all year until October. This is the most patterned buck we have ever had in early October by far. 100% daylight pictures multiple times, sometimes 5 or 6 days a week from July on through the entire month of September and into early October. The quickest that I could get my only Zone 6 hunter in on him was October 12th, the day after I got the first nocturnal picture of this buck all year. He never reappeared in daylight the rest of the year, and he seemed to wander off quite a bit make very large passes compared to the little 3-5 acre bedroom I captured him in. Actually, we believe that he was shot or poached by a neighboring Amish or local. We ended up hunting a different Zone 6 farm and killed a 160" 10pt stud that we had history with. With one hunter for Zone 6 in 2018, we never hunted this farm after October 14th, and my camera never captured a daylight pic of a buck here on this part of the farm. The activity went dormant, but on the other end of the farm, things lit up with scrapes, plenty of mature bucks from 140-160, with half being in daylight and the other half being completely nocturnal.
Photo (above): This buck is a completely new buck to us that showed himself only once so far, highlighted above by the screenshot of the video captured by my Spartan GoCam VZW overlooking a scrape and food plot. My boy and I actually walked right here in front of the camera 3 hours earlier on the last day of youth season. He was late to the party! Yet, this shows us that bucks can start changing patterns as early as October 4th which most believe happens a week or two later in October starting which is known as October "Lull" and the changing patterns leading to the pre-rut. I haven't seen this buck again yet on my cell cam, but that doesn't mean he has emerged on one of the non-cell cameras. We will see! He's a stud!
MID-OCTOBER - OCTOBER "LULL"
October 10th +/- through October 20th +/-
Some years, we are blessed with a cool/cold front in the opening week, and with a hopeful shooter still on a summer feeding pattern with an identifiable home range, you can get onto that deer by the 7th of October. If not, we start talking about the October "lull" or mid-October. Bucks have shifted causing does to shift. This is when some of our farms seem to "stack" with does leading up to the pre-rut and rut. Their fawns or yearlings are still with them. Bucks come and go a lot more spontaneously. Again, you always have to be on the lookout here for a pattern-able daylight shooter. It's random. They aren't always in their home ranges at the start of this mid-October section, but they will be heading that way. This is when the majority of the movement turns nocturnal, if it hadn't done so already. Some scrapes will start up, but none will truly light up yet unless you are in the particular buck's bedroom (a 5-10 acre section of the home range). This is still a hard time to kill a great buck unless he's already made a mistake in your favor. Most do not. This is why so many hunters refer to mid-October as the "lull" or the calm before the storm (the pre-rut and rut). It's a tough hunt & scouting mission, but it's still southern Iowa and anything is possible.
I don't have many pictures during this stretch of October worth sharing. Maybe there is something to this "lull" topic... If I find one quick, I'll update the post with it by next week.
LATE OCTOBER - PRE-RUT