I think that calling the transition period in october a "lull" might be a bit of a misnomer. its really more of a transition from summer feeding patterns to the fall breeding period. I am by no means a very experienced hunter, but I am an avid student of the sport and haved researched this phenomenon in depth. I was given 50 acres to hunt this year and I've managed the property since this spring. I set out numerous trail cams and the terrain is quite varied, this has allowed me to develop what I believe is a sound theory on hunting the so called "october lull". It seems that around the begining of october the bucks on my property stopped visiting the food plots and crop fields during the day but continued to feed there after dark. Also at this time the bachelor groups began to break up, with the oldest males leaving the groups the earliest. by mid october the buck activity in the agricutural fields fell off to just about nothing with the exception of the bucks 1.5 years old and younger. The older bucks seem to be feeding mainly on acorns and lichens and spent most of their time bedded in thick briars close to swamps. The does and young bucks also began to move more at night, but still frequented the standing corn and biologic plots.
After reviewing all my trail cam photos from the various locations and talking to some of the more experienced hunters in my area I have determined the following: early october signals he break up of bachelor groups with older bucks heading for thick cover and feeding close to their bedding areas 2. Young bucks and does do not alter their pattern as much as the mature bucks 3. the start of hunting season in mid october coincides with increased nocturnal activity.
applying this information has led me to the following strategy for hunting the lull: (unfortunately for me I will not be able to put this to use until next season but w/e the rut is almost upon us!!!)
STAND LOCATION: set up close to bedding areas near swamps and briar thickets. Look for trails leading from these areas to oak flats or other feeding locations that provide cover close to bedding areas.
WEATHER: the deer seem to be more active on colder days. try to hunt on cool overcast days before or after stormfronts.
TIME: since the deer are highly nocturnal during this transition period the most productive times are just after sun up and just before sunset, however the deer will feed during the day they are just not willing to stay too far from bedding areas. Hunting the new moon and overcast days when the nights are extrememly dark should offer a better opportunity then clear days or during the full moon when it is easier for deer to move at night.
SCENTS AND CALLS: avoid estrus scents, especially if you are willing to shoot a doe as these will scare of does who are not ready to breed and are not looking to be harrassed by bucks. Best bet is to leave the lures at home and just focus on remaining scent free. Light grunting and simulated sparring are the most likely calls to get a response especially from younger bucks still in bachelor groups, leave the can at home. Deer are especially wary during this period and too much calling will likely spook any mature bucks in the area.
DECOYS: Consider setting up decoy as a buck close to bedding areas. Taking the legs off to make the decoy appear to be bedded may be a productive strategy.
CONCLUSION: By paying attention to the shift in habits during the october lull and taking extra precautions to remain as quiet and scent free as possible you may still be able to harvest that trophy buck before the whitetail woods echo with estrus bleats and gunshots... this may also be a good time to harvest a doe for the freezer since they tend to stay in their summer feeding patterns later into the fall than do the bucks.
good luck and stay safe!!!