In September, we revealed the seven best days of the 2022 Whitetail Rut, and the first day is coming up this weekend, Sunday, October 23rd. In other words, it’s time to clear the calendar and start a hunting plan. We’ll leave the first part to you, but we’ve got you covered on the second. Below is a summary of the buck activity you can expect to see on Sunday, as well as expert tactics for morning and evening hunting. The best first whitetail day of 2023 will be here before you know it, so read on if you want to be ready.
With a few rare exceptions, the start of actual breeding hasn’t happened yet, but the bucks are experiencing a huge testosterone surge and are as active as they’ll be all year within their home ranges, skimming scratch lines and increased friction. intensity and duration. While rubbing and scratching have occurred since the shedding of velvet, early mark-making was parenthetical to normal feeding and bedding activity. Now, money is becoming less focused on food and more and more obsessed with advertising its presence and controlling the competition. And rather nervous, too. The bucks that had been tolerating each other for most of the year can really prove themselves by the end of October. They also spend a lot more time on their feet, and often during daylight hours. A buck that has been living as a vampire for the past three months may show up at a food plot full of food an hour or more before dark now and is also prone to going to bed late. That can only mean better hunting for you. Here’s how you should benefit.
October 23 morning hunting plan: Catch Buck late in bed
If you diligently hunted your buck early in the season by avoiding morning hunting anywhere near his bedding area, that’s great. But now is the time to start taking off the gloves – gradually. It’s not yet time to invade his sanctuary, but now is a great time to go at noon and sneak a stand in a path or funnel that leads back to his bedroom – because the morning of Sunday is when you’ll catch him going back to sleep late.
Throughout the early season, bucks have a crazy habit of going back to bed before daylight, which can make it really difficult to catch one in the morning. It can happen, but the odds of it working are usually pretty low, while the odds of scaring that money into your path are pretty good. But now, with the bucks busy later in the morning making signs and checking every type that will let them, they’re much more likely to show up once you’re in your stand, bow ready.
This weekend will mark my first morning hunt of the youth season, but I’m not going to push my luck. I never do any long walks at this time (those come later), and will only call or tap deer I see. In other words, it’s a low-risk, high-reward type of hunting. If the buck you’re hunting doesn’t make a mistake on Sunday morning, you haven’t warned him you’re chasing him. If he does that, you can just label him a cheater.
October 23 Evening Hunt Plan: Stage an ambush with a food source
Getting up in staging areas—thick patches of cover outside the hottest sources of evening food—is an absolute killer plan right now. In fact, the staging areas are great throughout the early season, so if you’re tuned in to a few, it should be easy. However, the key now is to place it specifically in the areas of the scenes with the best money sign. Spend an afternoon or two doing a milk run in your best feeding areas and do some quick speed research. Find the best access paths to the food and walk a little further back into the forest, looking for places where the buck stays and lies before going to the groceries. While the new bucks can be exposed to lots and lots of flashy farm fields, the old timers are still reluctant. Instead, they’ll hang back in the stage area and get off some refreshing adrenaline rushes and rubs. Find that hot sign and then set it up so you can wait for them on Sunday night.
Hot tip: It’s Scrape Week
Part of the reason why Sunday is the best first day of the scramble is because it sits right in what many experts have come to call “scratch week,” a period of roughly five to seven days when money in really hitting the scratches. daylight – which makes this the absolute best time to kill a buck on a bare dirt oval. As you check potential staging areas for your evening hunt, be sure to also check any historic scavenging sites and review any scavenging you found earlier in the year. You’re looking for the absolute freshest sign and should pay special attention to groups of scratches, which indicate multiple visits from the same buck, or competing sign from satellite deer. Determine if the spot is best hunted in the morning (near thick cover or preferred bedding) or in the evening (in staging areas near hot food sources) and plan to land it immediately, in conjunction with the two tactics above.
Gear Tip: Set up a cell phone camera to time a scratch
The absolute best way to know if bucks are hitting daylight scratches, and which ones, is to place a mobile trail camera right on the board. One of my favorite mobile cameras for this purpose is the new Moultrie Mobile Edge. Why this one? Simple: Does a great job at a super reasonable price (around $100 or a little less if you buy two). Of course, the more scratches you can monitor, the better, and the price of the Mobile Edges allows you to fit twice as many cameras as with a more expensive model.
If you don’t have any scratches located, put on those discovery boots and find them now. Then make additional mock scratches around them, which creates competition between the bucks and the illusion of an intruder. Then whip up a mobile camera, like the Edge, to monitor the activity. A mobile camera prevents you from disturbing the area to check a card, of course, and gives you real-time information. What you’re looking for are bucks that suddenly hit the ruts during the day, and this camera warns you about it right away.
The other thing I like about Edge is that the app is pretty smart. In addition to ease of setup, the app also has some great features, such as the activity graph (for example, to determine the best time to capture the first visits to a scratch) and weather data (such as temperature, barometric pressure and rainfall affects during the day visits of scrape). This saves you a lot of time sorting through information and images from conventional cameras. All of this will help right now, during this season’s gore week, but you can also start collecting data for next fall—and future falls—so that instead of being another frustrated hunter of scratches, you’ll be able to jump into scratch week the minute it starts.