Early Season Whitetail Hunting
This is a very exciting week to be in the woods hunting whitetails! There is something special about being the first hunter in a deer stand on opening day of the archery season and the anticipation can be very high. In Illinois, the weather during this time is normally perfect for morning and evening hunts. The average lows in the mornings are in the 40’s, and in the evening, the temperatures are typically in the 60’s. In a normal year, most of the crops are already harvested or are being harvested during this week. This can stimulate some extra deer movement as the deer adjust to the changing landscape. Whitetail deer are sometimes still on their summer routine and can be patterned during this time. Opening week is normally a very good time for bow hunters to be in a tree stand in Illinois.
Hunting in the middle of October is a transition time for deer. Whitetail patterns change from a summer to a fall pattern. This is normally a result of a change in their food source. In Illinois, their favorite food, acorns, start hitting the ground and most of the agriculture crops are harvested by this time. Whitetails are gearing up for the rut, and during this mid-October time, bucks seek out the acorns that will supply them with all the nutrients they need to sustain them through the long rut. Whitetails can lose up to 25% of their body fat during the rut and acorns are full of nutrients, including protein, carbohydrates, and fats to help replace this body fat. Deer hunters that understand what is happening during this time of the year can be very successful in harvesting large whitetails if they focus on acorns and hunting around oak trees during mid-October.
More scrapes and territorial rubs are also found during mid-October as the whitetail bucks are starting to establish their dominance. As a result, light rattling or grunting can sometimes be productive at this time, especially towards the end of this hunting period.
Bow hunting in late October can be one of the best times to be whitetail hunting in Illinois! The weather is perfect, the trees are in full color, and the pre-rut is in full swing. If you like calling, then make sure you pack your rattling antlers and grunt tube as whitetail bucks are establishing their dominance and respond well to calling during this time. Early breeding also is happening during this phase of the rut. Bucks start traveling their rub routes checking scrapes. A few does do come into estrous at this time. If you are lucky enough to have a hot doe around you while bow hunting, you are going to also see a lot of buck movement as well. This is a very good time to harvest the dominate buck in that area as he is going to want to breed those first few does that come into heat. For the does that are not in yet, a lot of chasing starts to happen, especially with immature bucks. As a result, experimenting with scents and decoys can be productive during this time.
Opening week – Pattern a buck during the summer and try to harvest him during the first week while he is still on his summer pattern.
Mid-October – Head to the acorns. Archery hunting close to acorns can be very productive!
Late October – It’s time to be a little aggressive. Try calling, rattling and using scents.
Enjoy bow hunting an elusive gobbler while in your stand. You can have the option of hunting turkeys and whitetail during your fall deer hunt.
It’s nice to be sitting in the stand and if a flock of turkeys come in, you have the option of shooting one with your bow. Your fall archery turkey permit is an either sex tag, so you could shoot a hen or a gobbler.