Bowhunting October Trophy Whitetails in Illinois

October Whitetail Hunting tips and tactics in Pike county IllinoisThere’s something magical about bowhunting October in Pike County, Illinois. The leaves are a brilliant array of different colors, overall deer movement is generally very good, and mature buck daytime movement is starting to increase. At the lodge, after several months of trail camera scouting, food plot preparation, and fine tuning our treestand set ups, we get the opportunity to get our clients in on some of the best bowhunting of the season.

Archery Hunting Illinois in October

We strategically plant long, narrow food plots that naturally create ideal ambush style bowhunting set ups. We monitor the fringes of our food plots with trail cameras and when the weather and conditions are right, we go in for the buck we’re after. Our clover food plots mixed in with rye, oats, turnips and radishes draw deer in like a magnet and really makes for a quality October deer bowhunt.

Hunting whitetails in october over water holesWe’ve had great success hunting over waterholes and small ponds in October as well. Several of our stand locations in October are nearby these secluded watering holes that are back in the timber where deer are still feeding heavily on acorns. Even when the weather is unseasonably warm, our hunts can still be productive in these locations.

Bowhunting October 1st-20th in Illinois

Throughout the first few weeks in October, we focus our efforts hunting whitetails over a preferred food source. Deer will be feeding heavily on the white oak acorns and will continue to feed on these as long as they last. During this time, it also seems deer will seek out stands of alfalfa or clover that has had a late fall cutting and has not yet had a hardy frost. The regrowth on the plants are not only highly palatable to deer at this time but other agriculture crops such as corn or soybeans will typically be “dry” during this time and less attractive to deer. Deer hunting october tips over food plots and ag fields

Anytime there is a prominent weather change in October, whether it be October 1st or 20th, expect great mature buck movement. This is a great time to hunt core bucks that we’ve been getting pictures of just before or right after dark. There seems to be a time frame in October where some mature bucks will become very patternable going to and from there prominent evening food source for a short period of time. We continually monitor our food plots and agriculture fields at this time. There will always be an uptick in deer movement after a recently harvested corn or bean field.

During October of our 2018 season one of our diehard hunters, Dennis Holtgrave, experienced first-hand the magic of a freshly cut beanfield and an October cold front can bring to the deer woods. The following day after the farmer cut the field, Dennis harvested a 6 1/2 year old, 165″ main frame eight point on his last evenings hunt! Click here to see the Full Story & Video of Dennis’s Hunt>>

Bowhunting the Pre-Rut Phase October 20th-31st

Hunting October Whitetails pre rut illinoisAs a whitetail guide, this is without a doubt one of my favorite times of the season. Core bucks are expanding there ranges and are becoming very active during daylight hours. Bucks tend to be most susceptible to calling and decoying during this time of the October. Hunting field edges in the last part of October paired with a decoy is one of our favorite set ups at the lodge. Anytime a cold front moves in during this time, it is almost guaranteed to have mature bucks up and moving. More on Decoying Deer and Pre Rut Calling Tips>>

For our morning hunts, we like to get back in the hardwoods a little bit, focusing on the main trails in transition areas from food source to bedding. This can be one of the best times to get a crack at our target bucks that have been frequenting a scrape.  A scrape-line along a logging road or a ridgetop, paired with white oaks is a classic late-October bowhunting setup. Right after or during a light rain during this time frame in October will have the mature bucks on their feet and freshening up their scrapes. With the right conditions, hunters can experience the true magic of the October deer woods.

Our October evening hunts are typically over some type of food source whether it be a food plot, ag field, or white oak grove. If we have bucks that are still not entering the food sources in daylight, we may go back a littler further in the timber and hunt transition areas going from bed to food. If we have warmer weather we like to hunt secluded waterholes that are close to a primary food source. Bucks will be getting out of their beds and after munching on acorns and other “dry” browse throughout the day, they get thirsty!

If you are looking for a quality October deer hunt, view our Dates & Rates Page Here. I highly recommend taking a look at the last few weeks of our October hunts. All it takes is a cold front, and you could be looking down the arrow at a once in a lifetime whitetail in Pike County, Illinois!

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Zach Jumps
HuntingManager@HeartlandLodge.com

Last Updated: October 1st, 2020

8 thoughts on “Bowhunting October Trophy Whitetails in Illinois

    1. Great Eric! If you’d like to talk to a guide you can give us a call at 217-734-2526 for more information on our hunts. Thank you!

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