“Joe,” an avid reader of The Deer-Forest Blog, asked if we could shed some light on the dreaded October Lull that seems to plague hunters. Joe suggested that reduced deer sightings in October would be reflected as reduced daytime movements and smaller home ranges.
By the end of October, about 1 in 5 females have been bred. So the October Lull, if it exists, has to be finished by the 3rd week in October. When the 1st of November rolls around, the rut is in high gear!
In a previous post we looked at buck movements but found no difference between late September and the first 3 weeks of October. So if movement rates are still on par, are those movements over a smaller area? That could explain the October Lull perceived by some hunters.
Taking the location data of bucks from 2017 (all at least 2.5 years old), I estimated a weekly home range size beginning in the latter half of September through mid-November calculating the home range sizes of pre-lull, “lull” (first 3 weeks of October) and the rut (late October to mid-November).
Take a look.
Still no evidence of an October Lull. In fact, it is the opposite! Beginning in late September the home ranges of these bucks steadily increased. From about a square mile (640 ac) to almost 4 square miles.
A few older-aged females in good body condition are in estrus in early October (some even in September!). Half are bred by 13 November. So love is in the air!
Deer don’t travel faster during the rut just over more hours of the day.
In my opinion, the October Lull is more about hunter expectations than any change in deer behavior. Everyone knows the last 3 weekends of archery season will be the most exciting because that’s when rut activity increases dramatically.
In fact, harvest data collected by the Pennsylvania Game Commission is evidence that hunter activity is lowest during the “October Lull.”
The graph below shows the number of reported harvests by day for the 2017 regular archery season. There are several things to note:
- -Every Saturday (9/30, 10/7, 10/14, 10/21, 10/28, 11/4, and 11/11) there is a spike in deer harvests.
- -The first and last two Saturdays have the highest harvests.
- -The lowest harvest days are in the middle of October
The variation in harvest in this graph is not evidence of an October Lull for deer, but for deer hunters. The woods are quiet but it’s not because deer are staying home. Hunters are.
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