How to Hunt Scrapes During the October Lull

How to Hunt Scrapes During the October Lull

I don’t really believe in the “October Lull.” I think there are a host of factors that come into play during mid-October, and most of them just work to keep us from seeing deer in easy-to-hunt spots. These factors can be balanced out by a decrease in hunting pressure, or a strategy that involves working with what the deer are doing right now.

While that might be a lot of things, it’s also this—bucks are making and checking scrapes. You can kill a buck on a scrape in September or November, but if you want the highest odds for this strategy, then your window is open right now.

The first step is to realize that, just like with all deer sign, not all scrapes are created equal.

Scrapes Worth Hunting

One of the types of spots that I often look for when I’m scouting is a hub. This will be a location that channels deer movement in from several directions and is often worth hunting all season long. I’ve found these in bluff country where several ridges converge and in the big woods where a stream bisects a hard or soft habitat edge. These hubs share a few things in common, one of which is almost always a community scrape.

The more deer that pass through a specific area, the more likely it is you’ll find sign of all types, including a big scrape complete with a licking branch. One scrape in a high-traffic area that is tucked into the cover like this, is worth more than 15 scrapes on field edges. The key to October bucks is hunting in the thick stuff. And the key to setting yourself up to shoot a buck in the thick stuff, is often your proximity to a community scrape.

Get In Tight, But Not Too Tight

While most hunters, especially new hunters, will find a dished-out scrape and set up 15 yards away so they can shoot a buck when he works it, this often isn’t the best strategy. Bucks often approach from downwind, but they also tend to take their time. October bucks don’t seem to know what to do with themselves, so they mill around in spots where they feel comfortable.

They don’t just beeline it from one scrape to the next. This means that if you set up right over a scrape, you might also be setting yourself up for a deer to get downwind of you as he meanders his way in. A better bet, once you’ve scouted the right scrape, is to play the wind and hang back.

I don’t mind being 40 or 60 yards off of my target scrape for the first sit (sometimes even farther). What I want to observe is what all the deer do in a specific hub, and how they interact with a scrape. Watching for a few sits can give you every detail you need to set up exactly where you need to kill a buck.

Floodgate Bucks

If you run a camera on a scrape in video mode, and you should, you’ll see something interesting. There will be days where almost nobody checks it, and others, where every deer in the neighborhood comes in to work the dirt and rub their foreheads on the licking branch.

Not only is this a good experiment in observing deer behavior, but it also provides a valuable lesson. Sometimes you’ll scout out the perfect scrape and set up just right, only to blank. The next night, when the weather changes or something different hums its way through the local herd, the scrape will be the local hotspot.

Having a few community scrapes scouted out, with a plan to observe and then hunt them during certain winds, is probably the best way to beat the Lull. It’s a strategy that takes into account what the bucks are most interested in right now, which is staying hidden while keeping tabs on all potential rivals and girlfriends.

This is a good move on private ground, even dirt you could save for a rut hunt. But it really shines where there’s plenty of hunting pressure. In fact, this is my go-to strategy for my October public land hunts, because it allows me to work the deer the way I want while a lot of my competition is at home.

Don’t write off the next couple of weeks. Get out there and find a fresh scrape, tucked into the cover, and complete with a well-used licking branch. Once you do, you’re on your way to killing a good one when most folks think it’s a lost cause.

For more information on October deer hunting, check out these articles: The October Lull Is Real, 3 Ways To Hunt Mornings In October, and Best Food Sources To Deer Hunt In October.

Feature image via Matt Hansen.

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