Pre-Rut October Deer Hunting in Illinois

Late October Pre-Rut Archery Bow Hunt in Illinois

This is one of my favorite hunt weeks of the year at the lodge. Mature whitetails are becoming more active as scrapes and rubs are popping up everywhere as bucks begin to establish their dominance. Bucks are still in there core areas and start to become very territorial around common doe bedding areas. Bucks tend to be most susceptible to calling and decoying during this phase of the season as they’re testosterone levels are surging. Anytime a weather front moves through this time of the season, it is almost guaranteed to have mature bucks up and moving in daylight hours. In my opinion, this is one of the best times to get a shot at any “resident” upper age class deer that are calling our properties home.

Late October/ Pre-Rut Bowhunting Strategy at the Lodge

early season bowhunting whitetail hunting in illinoisMonitoring social scrapes during this time of year with trail cameras can be a great tool to help pattern bucks, especially for evening hunts over quality food sources. Although most scrape activity is done at night, there’s a window of opportunity during the pre-rut that can yield success. A weather front during the early stages of the pre-rut can be a great opportunity to get in and kill a core buck that’s been hitting a scrape consistently. Not necessarily in the middle of the night, but the bucks that have been hitting them at last light or an hour after dark will be the most killable bucks during this time of the season.

Pre-Rut Morning Hunts

Typically, during our pre-rut morning hunts we are hunting in the hardwoods, 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 scrapes just outside there main bedding. A scrape-line along a logging road or a ridgetop, paired with white oaks is a classic end of 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 an October deer hunt.

Pre rut deer hunting in illinoisPre-Rut Evening Hunts

Our pre-rut 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 we have several days of warm weather, one might be surprised at just how good some of our stand locations can be over water!

Hunting All Day In Late-October

If the weather is right, sitting all day during this timeframe can be fruitful as bucks start to become more and more daylight active as the rut nears. Just this last season, one of our hunters harvested a nice 5 1/2 year old buck at 11:50 A.M.! The buck was crossing a wide open ridge, traveling from one doe bedding area to another. Although it can be mentally challenging, sitting all day increases your odds of success two-fold. Our cooks will prepare a sack lunch for you if you plan to sit all day with more than enough food!

Pre rut deer hunting tacticsPre-Rut Hunting Conditions in Illinois

The weather from Mid-Late October can vary wildly depending on the season. Average daytime highs are in the 60’s and average lows are in the lower 40’s. We usually receive our first frost around Mid-October. Although uncommon, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to see a few snow flakes during the latter part of the month. It’s without a doubt the most beautiful time to be in the deer stand as the leaves are a brilliant array of different colors and will gradually start to fall off the trees as the month goes on.

If you are interested in a pre-rut hunt this fall, call 217-734-2526 or E-Mail me today at HuntingManager@HeartlandLodge.com for last minute whitetail cancellation hunt spots available and special pricing!

I hope to see you at the lodge this season!
-Zach Jumps

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