Unfortunately, all the moose are still on the loose in Ontario. Our hunt was difficult at best, but the reward would’ve been amazing on film had it happened. It did for our camp mate, however—a bowhunter from Wisconsin. Bob Bearman at Nipigon River Bear Hunts called in a young bull to the decoy and the Wisconsin hunter was offered a 35-yard shot. Unfortunately, the shot didn’t connect, but the adrenaline hooked him for life on bowhunting Bullwinkles.
That said, I’m off for Wyoming whitetails next during what many consider the toughest time of all: October. Why is October tough on whitetail hunters?
It’s the annual time period when bachelor groups begin disbanding, big bucks become recluses and the rut is still not a major player in deer activity.
Despite bucks dropping off the radar screen, you can still find success in this transition season. First, keep on the hunt for food. As frost invades the landscape it also changes food preferences, but rest assured—corn, soybeans and clover still attract deer. Be on the lookout for mast crops as well: Apples, crabapples and acorns can keep a buck energized and hidden from highly visible field edges, so you might have to take an interior stand.
Next, look for hideouts near energy-rich foods. Whitetails are not only bulking up on food, but they are putting on their winter coat. If it’s warm they won’t want to move far between bedding cover and feed. During this time of year, bucks do little more than feed and rest, so cover and food are still the most important components to a filled tag. Female companionship is soon to change that equation, but not for a couple weeks.
My strategy this week in Wyoming is exactly that: I’m going to focus on food and cut off any bucks moving from feed back to cover, and vice versa. I’ll have a bit of an advantage with the open landscape, but don’t bet on it being easy: Open-country whitetails are specialists at disappearing when the pressure is on. I’ll put my Nikons to good use and hope the T/C Venture can reach out and touch something when the time is right.