The rut is still in the future and whitetails are following summer patterns and not getting silly yet. The weather is just one problem. It's likely to be warm and sunny most days, which means deer normally won't leave their bedding grounds to feed until dark or nearly so. Which also means a bow hunter is usually wasting his time hoping for a shot.
So, prime time to go is on those days when there's weather, perhaps a cold front moving through, storms approaching with wind and a falling barometer, even a patter of early sleet. They'll move well before dark then, hurrying to feed before bad weather arrives. So, basically good weather is bad weather.
They're just beginning to show autumn behavior too, which means the bucks will be shedding the velvet on their antlers, and seeking out small trees usually in brushy areas to rub their racks and remove the probably itching stuff. So, hunters will begin finding rubs on hawthorns, alders, dogwood, aspen, and young maples, and might be tempted to make a blind or tree stand there. But usually it's a waste of time. The deer have no reason to return to such places once antlers are clean. Instead, think food.
At this time of year the animals are instinctively hurrying to build up fat supplies for the lean and exhausting business of the rut when bucks are seeking does and fighting to keep them and does are coming into season and being chased by testosterone laden males. One good place to check at this time of year is soybean fields if they're late season and still green. Soybeans are a favorite deer food, filled with protein and easily accessible. If the beans are green, circle the field and look for trails leading in. When you find a well used one, place a blind or tree stand there.
Even in later season when fields are mostly yellow and not being eaten by deer there might be a low spot or slightly swampy area still green, and deer will make trails to it. Once the leaves yellow it's over for soybeans until they fall off, then deer will return to eat the highly nutritious pods, again making trails and therefore ambush sites.
They love corn too, and for much the same reasons, high energy and easily accessible. Check these out , again looking for trails into the field and set up shop there. I once killed a nine point buck whose stomach was crammed with golden kernels, and other archers have, too. Then there's acorns, particularly worth a search in the southern, western, and eastern parts of Ohio where timber is heavy and farm fields few.
Deer love acorns and will feed on them at every opportunity, but only the white, burr, and post oak types. They don't like the bitter red and black acorns which are filled with tannin. Find a grove of the good kind, look for tracks and droppings, and you have a spot worth hunting. During this month that's all it takes.
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HOOKS & BULLETS
• Ohio trappers are invited to participate in a special drawing on Saturday, Oct. 13, for public land beaver and river otter trapping opportunities. A list of public land trapping opportunities available at the lottery is posted at wildohio.gov under Controlled Hunting and Trapping Events. Interested trappers will be required to come to one of the five wildlife district offices with registration to begin at 11a.m., and the drawing to begin at noon. Questions can be directed 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, to any Wildlife District Office.
• Outdoorsmen interested in learning to field dress and butcher a deer are encouraged to attend a free workshop on Thursday, Oct. 18. The workshop will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Fitchville Conservation League Club House located at 2623 Jennings Road, New London. Pre-registration is required by Oct. 16 as space is limited, so call Andrea Altman at 419-429-8321. Topics covered will include field dressing, skinning and butchering. The workshop is hands-on and portions will be held outdoors.
• A one-time drawing will be held Wednesday, Oct. 17 for trapping in the wildlife refuge on the Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area. The drawing will be held a 6:30 p.m. at the Killdeer Plains Check Station located at 19100 C.H. 115, Harpster. All participants must register before 6:25 p.m. and show a valid 2018-19 Ohio Fur Takers Permit. Registration forms will be completed by the trapper and placed in a drum. There are nine available units in the refuge. For additional information about controlled trapping opportunities in Ohio, view the Controlled Hunting and Trapping Events page at wildohio.gov.
• Individuals interested in the basic skills needed to trap are encouraged to attend an informational workshop provided by the Ohio State Trappers Association (OSTA) according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). Workshops will be held at multiple locations across the state. In Northwest Ohio, a workshop will be held Oct. 27 to 28 at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area at 13229 W. Ohio 2, Oak Harbor. All first-time trappers must successfully complete a hunter and a trapper education course offered through the Division of Wildlife before purchasing a hunting license and fur taker permit to trap furbearers. Many of the OSTA workshops will offer the Trapper Education Course. The workshops are free of charge but pre-registration is required. For class times and to register, call Doug Lee at 419-333-6653. For information on trapping in Ohio, visit wildohio.gov.
Dick Martin is a free-lance writer from Shelby. Reach him at [email protected] You also can visit his blog at outdoorswithmartin.com.