Hunting the Early Season? Hunt the Fall Feeding Frenzy
Ok, the antlers are all peeled and the testosterone level is rising but don’t let these early signs of the breeding season mislead you into thinking you are hunting rut driven bucks. The rut probably won’t arrive until sometime in Mid-November, the key to successful early season whitetail hunting is to take advantage of Mr. Big’s need to feed. Whitetails are getting ready for the breeding season and the winter that will follow. That means packing on as many pounds as possible before the rut kicks in sometime around November (Watch our Rut Tracker). This fall feeding frenzy will lead to bucks will often gaining 25-30% of their body weight in the last 45 days before the rut, they will feed long, hard, and frequently.
Bucks are often patternable during this time of intense feeding and are often still in their summer feeding patterns. Bean fields, alfalfa, and uncultivated fields containing forbs and tender young growth are very attractive to fall bucks “on the feed”, so is all kinds of hard (acorns, beechnuts, hickory nuts) mast and the always popular fruit and berries (soft mast). Early season bucks can often be pattered, if you watched them all summer and didn’t put too much pressure on them, chances are, they will be working the same food sources. Summer feeding patterns generally hold until food sources change, danger interrupts the pattern, or rising testosterone begins to drive rut-related behaviors.
Fall crops like corn and soybean pods are big favorites but they disappear in a hurry when the farmer fires up the ole combine or corn chopper. Those food plots you put in last August should be producing tons of whitetail food and nobody will come along and turn them into sileage. When hunting patterned bucks, keep it low-impact, pressure will result in feeding pattern disruption and turn mature bucks nocturnal. Set up on trails leading to and from feeding areas or on small hunting plots or mast sources where whitetails feed. Evening or early morning (cool temperature) hunts are generally most productive.
Every wonder why so many great deer are taken in the early season? Think the fall feeding frenzy, the deer are still relaxed and have their guard down, the “need to feed” will let a savvy hunter get the jump on them or at least be there when Mr. Big shows up.