Forget football, fishing and pumpkin carving with the kids; bowhunters must focus on finding and following deer if they want to punch a tag in October. While the month is filled with satisfying cold fronts and beautiful fall foliage, it’s also packed with undeniable change. For bowhunters who don’t adapt, the misunderstood October lull can seem very real.
We spoke with Beau Martonik, founder of East Meets West Outdoors, to get the rundown on hunting white-tailed deer in October. Martonik, 31, is an avid adventure hunter with experience hunting elk, moose, caribou, mule deer, black bear and whitetails. About 99% of his whitetail hunting has been in the Appalachian Mountain region, hunting big-woods deer. He rarely hunts agricultural areas.
Martonik got his first bow buck, a 9.5-year-old 9-point, when he was 17 years old, after ditching high school sports to focus on hunting. He said the experience brought the camaraderie of hunting camp full circle because he got to share his hunting story with his family after listening to all of theirs during the years prior. That experience solidified his love for hunting and fueled his motivation for future hunts. Martonik shares his adventures on the East Meets West podcast and blog.
For a whitetail hunter to be successful in October, Martonik said they must adapt, find hot sign and be strategic with their setup because “things are changing so fast.”
He believes the top three things that make October unique and challenging to hunt are:
Once you understand these October nuances, Martonik said, you can more thoroughly enjoy bowhunting throughout the month because you’ll be better able to adapt and find productive areas. Despite the challenges, Martonik likes bowhunting in October because the weather is usually nice and hunters who are focused on a particular buck have a good chance at shooting it since it’s not traversing the countryside chasing does like it will be in November.
Over Martonik’s 19-year bowhunting career, he realized deer move more as the season progresses. Therefore, he hunts buck bedding areas in early October for morning and evening sits. “Some people don’t like hunting bedding areas in the morning, but a few years ago, I shot my second biggest deer to date on a morning hunt because it was coming to bed a bit later,” Martonik said. Since arrowing the 147-inch Pennsylvania deer, he’s been a fan of a.m. sits near bedding areas and has had several other cool encounters.
In October’s final days, bucks have a ton of testosterone, which makes them behave aggressively and fight often. They’ll also put down a bunch of scrapes and rubs to communicate with other deer and mark their territory. Martonik hunts over or near scrapes throughout October, but he really homes in on them late in the month. The last week in October is Martonik’s second favorite one to hunt, behind the coveted second week in November.
Stay tuned for next month’s article, where we’ll interview another hunting icon to get in-depth details on all-things-whitetail-bowhunting in November.