Hunt Advisor Reports: All Eyes On October
Some cool mornings in mid-September gave hunters just a taste of what’s to come—glorious fall weather in the Georgia deer woods. Soon there will be acorns raining down—hopefully lots of big white oaks—and bucks will be active and on the move.
GON has a great team of deer-hunting experts across the state who file regular reports as Hunt Advisors. Here are their reports on the opening weeks of archery season and on how the woods are looking in their areas for the upcoming firearms season.
Cherokee County: Tim Dangar, of Ball Ground, reports, “Great start here in Cherokee County. The Lord blessed us with a good cool day for the 2022 bow-season opener. We saw a lot of deer opening morning but let everything walk. That evening, my grandson’s girlfriend, Gracie Mogelnicki, scored on a nice 8-point at last light. Gracie has put in a lot of work with shooting, cocking and getting used to her crossbow. She also picked out her stand location but did have help with getting the ladder stand up and ready to hunt. Goes to show hard work pays off. Good job Gracie, way to put the smack down on a nice buck opening day!
“On Sunday morning Sept. 25, my grandsons’ Chase and Tyler’s classmate at Piedmont University, Nate Courtwright, made a great shot on his first-ever deer. Nate’s deer came in at first light, so getting in the stand early paid off. Nate also has put in a lot of work and logged several hours in the woods. Nice 6-point Nate, way to get it done!”
“The deer here in Cherokee are doing the normal things this time of year. Bucks are singling out and doe are pushing away the offsprings getting ready for another breeding season. We have noticed the deer are feeding more on early acorns, which means a move from something green to the hardwoods is coming. We are looking for the main acorn drop to happen toward the middle of October. Our persimmons are about a week away from really hitting the ground in big numbers. For whatever reason, I have found that big mature bucks can’t resist a ripe persimmon. May want to spend some time on a hot dropping tree! More to say about buck signs and rut next month. Until next time, stay safe and hunt on!”
Jackson County: Michael Williams, of Nicholson, reports, “If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering, ‘Where did all my target bucks go!’ Something about once these bucks shed velvet, they know it’s hunting season, and they shift their patterns and home range.
“Following the Sept. 10 opener, buck activity has been minimal, mostly at night around 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
“My first sit on Sept. 11 yielded very little deer activity, and my next sit was on Sept. 17 where I arrowed a big mama doe at 20 yards. Knocks the ice off and puts meat in the freezer.
“To be completely honest most of September and early October I limit my sits based strictly on the weather. The last eight years I have prioritized all my sits around cold fronts and a rising barometric pressure.
“The last sit I made was on Sept. 24 following a cold front that saw 50s for morning lows. Overall saw 12 deer—eight does and four bucks. One buck looked to be a very nice 9-pointer just outside of 60 yards from my setup working a scrape line. Bucks are still running in bachelor groups with one or two running buddies
“Scrape and rub activity is picking up. Saw three large scrapes on a property I hunt and multiple rubs. I almost always hang a camera on these scrapes to gather some intel on the bucks that are using them.
“Summer food sources are starting to diminish; most of the persimmons and muscadines have already been eaten by deer, possums, squirrels and other critters. White oaks are slowly dropping acorns, along with red oaks, water oaks and sawtooth. Deer have been picking off any white oak and sawtooth acorn that hits the ground.
“As we cross into October and the days are getting shorter, buck sign will increase exponentially. Look for more scrapes and rubs to pop up, maybe even some young rut-crazed bucks to start some chasing. Oaks, especially white oaks, will start drastically dropping acorns providing a buffet of browse for deer. Set up in or around any white oaks that are dropping acorns, as these will be the first acorns that deer will go to. Always a great place to harvest a good buck or doe.
“Any fall food plots that were planted in August should be looking pretty green and will provide a great mid- to late-season food source for deer. Clover, cereal rye and winter wheat are about knee high right now.
“Going into October is always an exciting time in the deer woods as it begins to feel more ‘Deer Hunting’ like. Cooler weather, colors of the leaves changing, acorns falling, and deer sign increasing, etc. It gets your heart racing for that next sit. Like I said, most of my hunts are prioritized around cold fronts and a rising barometric pressure. The only time none of that matters to me is during the actual rut. I’ll watch the weather closely over a 10-day period, and when I see that first dip in the mercury and that barometer to meet it, I’m in the woods, and nine out of 10 times I’m successful.
“Happy hunting and good luck to all Georgia hunters.”
Madison County: Keith Ingram, of Comer, reports, “I have not been in the woods near as much as previous seasons, but I have managed a handful of sits. Opening week was kinda damp, so my son Zack and I decided to sit in a ground blind together, and him do the honors if something presented itself. The first hour of light was very slow, but the action finally picked up. We saw a total of 12, with two being very nice bucks. One was an 8-point, and the other a 10. They came in together, and Zack pushed the safety off on his crossbow on the 8 but decided to give him a pass. As the third weekend of bow season rolled around, things really started to pick up. I’m getting a lot of camera action, and some pretty good bucks are starting to show up. The bucks are very active, making a ton of scrapes and working them regularly. I got pics of a lot of does using the scrapes, also. I’ve also got pics of several sparring matches and have watched a couple of scuffles myself. Don’t want to jump the gun, but I am seeing signs of a possible early rut in my area.
“As far as food sources, I’m still hanging close to my feed stations, as the acorns are still holding tight to the limb. I have found a few water oaks on the ground, and I’m pretty sure I heard a couple of white or red oaks hit the ground the morning of Sept. 25.
“Strategy going into October is to start locating the best producing oaks and camp on them, and pay close attention when the does start piling into them, as the bucks should be close by, especially at dawn and dusk. As far as the deer themselves, the numbers are unbelievable, with every mature doe having fawns with them. Something I’ve noticed this season though is there are two or three does that look pretty poor, not sick, just a little run down. Hoping it’s just combination of age, a couple of fawns apiece and a brutal summer. And now that the fawns are able to feed themselves, these girls will bounce back. Good luck to everyone, as the last half of October going into November should be fun.”
Fayette & Meriwether Counties: Jeff Scurry, of Peachtree City, reports, “Early fall food plots are bringing the deer in, as are the plentiful muscadines we have this year. Red oaks have also been dropping sporadically.
“As far as rut activity, lots of scrapes are showing up. Lots of scrape lines on firebreaks and field edges. These scrapes have also been checked by does, as captured on trail cameras
“With the cooler weather lately, it has gotten the more mature bucks moving. Several bucks from last season have now appeared on camera checking out their fall pattern areas. Bucks are now breaking up their bachelor groups. With the high deer numbers, the first rut might last longer, as well as the second rut, based on the high doe numbers and late fawn drops from past two years. In my areas, I have seen fawns this year as late as last week still in spots, so moms were bred very late.”
Jasper County: Tim Zech, of Monticello, reports, “The deer herd in Jasper County is definitely transitioning off their summer patterns and starting to shift food sources. Fewer bachelor groups of bucks have been seen together, and the fawns are losing their spots.
“A few red and scarlet oaks have started falling, and it looks like a good mast crop of acorns will be available this year.
“I have not deer hunted as much as normal due to work travel and a pleasure trip to Montana… and time in the dove fields. Opening day provided a couple really nice bucks for my son Chase and niece Gracie near Athens. Afternoon hunts have been more productive, and a really good buck was missed on an opening day p.m. hunt in one of my favorite stands (not mentioning any names, Erin).
“Looking forward to some cooler weather and getting our Pennington food plots in during the next weeks. Running a bit late on plots this year due to some tractor issues, but there is still plenty of time. Best of luck to everyone and hope everyone gets to let the air out of a deer or two before gun season gets here.”
Putnam County: Dwayne Britt, of Bishop, reports, “Great start to the season. I was able to take a nice buck early bow season. We planted plots the last week of September, and with cooler weather and a good chance of rain, plots should do good. Strategy is simple, hunt the acorns. Some trees have more acorns than I’ve ever seen, and some are bare. I’m seeing good sign with horned trees, but not much yet on scrapes. If you can find any white or red oak acorns with horned trees or scrapes nearby, and especially in transition areas from thick woods to hardwood draws, you should be in business. Putnam County tends to have a good bit of chasing that first week and continues into early November when the rut gets in full swing. Food plots will become a good evening sit once they get established and I’ll focus more on the acorns in the morning hunts.”
“Deer population looks great this year. We’re surprised to see very little coyote sign this year and hope to keep it that way.
“Good luck, stay safe and God bless.”
Walton County: Xane Bennett, of Monroe, reports, “As October creeps in, everyone should be getting excited, as things are about to change drastically in the deer woods. Year after year October is more sought after in my own experiences due to the bucks being more predictable in travel and eating habits than November. Not to mention early in the month a good number of bucks are searching for a new home, preferably one with a promising fall food source shortly after breaking away from their bachelor group.”
“Early bow season this year was focused on dwindling down the doe population on private-land properties I hunt due to it being a great summer fawning ground. With that blessing there is a burden to it as well. Mature bucks will become stressed out with too many does and many times the mature does will run the bucks off. Rut phase many would think a large doe herd would be beneficial, and it can be to a degree, but it often makes the bucks lazy, giving you less of a chance of repetitive movement. Conservation is a huge part of managing your property no matter the size. I take advantage when the lack of mature bucks on a parcel is known to make that area more appealing to a detached bachelor group buck looking for a new home.”
“When I was not harvesting does on private land, I was focusing my time on different public-land properties to avoid applying too much pressure this early on. Scouting both through aerial views of maps and through foot travel, I certainly learned a lot about a few more unfamiliar properties. Both acorn and water sources seemed to have the most deer travel throughout the day. Bedding areas for both genders certainly were not very far either, usually set at higher elevations to those constant sources. Rubs are certainly gaining traction this week. I think I make a sound argument that September and early October is the best time to target a mature buck through scrapes. Right now, their scrape pattern is more of an actual pattern and less of a random rotation. Take notice when a fresh scrape is revealed, placing a camera around that general area may leave you with a pretty picture to chase down.
“Focus this month on bedding areas, scrapes as well as food sources in the morning and afternoon. Weather can change a whitetail’s routine on a dime—any substantial drop in temperature will increase daylight activity ten-fold with how hot it has been. Good luck to everyone in my favorite month of the year for the deer woods. Enjoy the memories made and lessons learned.”
Crisp County: Jodi Manders, of Cordele, reports, “I hope everyone is having a great season so far. We are off to a slow start. Our son David and grandson Dusty have been in the woods a good bit but haven’t seen much deer movement. David was able to harvest a doe the morning of the 24th. Maybe that cool morning air had them moving around. He saw several early, right after daylight. Would love to have more of those cool mornings.
“Our deer herd seems to be way down so far this year. We are just not seeing the amount of does or bucks in the early season as we normally expect to. Maybe that will change.
“As October approaches, we expect to start seeing more activity as bucks will be making and working scrapes. We have seen a few already. Mid-October has always been an active time for deer movement around here. It’s also a time when mature bucks start to make an appearance. We’ve also been seeing rubs for a couple of weeks.
“We plan to hunt those green food plots, hoping they will get tired of eating the farmers’ peanuts and are ready for something more tasty. The persimmons are always plentiful and they are this year. The deer frequent that deer candy often, so that will be a hot food source to hunt along with a few acorns.
“Get out there and hunt yourself some deer and enjoy just being in the outdoors. I sure will. Hope you all have a great season. Good luck, hunt safe and God bless!”
Harris County: Jimmy Harper, of Hamilton, reports, “Archery season on the Harris County properties I hunt has been slow, but that’s not really unusual due to the types of land that comprise them. On a more positive note, after having identified zero shooters prior to the start of the season, we now have a half-dozen Hit List bucks identified on our three properties following velvet shedding and the breakups of buck bachelor groups. Additionally, we always have a few old bucks that seem to be ‘camera shy,’ so it’s looking to be another deer season with some good hunting opportunities ahead for us.
“Muscadines fell heavily for over two months this year in Harris County. Some of these wild grapes are still falling in small numbers on some of our properties, but their use by the deer, and to hunters as a draw for hunting, is basically over for this season. Water oak acorns are raining down in Harris County, but they aren’t a preferred deer food source in most areas, so I don’t depend on them to concentrate deer for hunting. White and red oak acorns, which draw deer like magnets at slightly different times of the year, are a different story!
“Every property is different, so I always encourage in-season scouting on your own hunting area to locate active food sources. But on the properties I hunt, it appears that white oak acorn production will be spotty this year. That may not be ideal for the deer, but it can actually be a good thing for us hunters, because it can concentrate deer feeding activity for a few weeks if we locate the few trees dropping these preferred acorns and then hunt near them. Red oak trees look like they’ll be producing an average acorn crop this year. Groves of these trees will likely become an important food source, and deer hunting area, as the season progresses, especially after most of the available while oak acorns are gone. Due to the lack of rain in our area during the month of September, we’ve held off planting our cool season food plots, but plan to do that this month. That will still give our crops plenty of time to sprout and grow before the first frost in our area of the state.
“October in the Harris County woods is a month of transition—for the deer, for the woods themselves, and for hunters who want to be successful before the annual rut kicks into high gear the following month. For the first two-thirds of this month, the old saying ‘find the food, find the deer’ will hold true, but it’s not as simple as it sounds. Primary deer food sources can literally change from one day to the next as different varieties of acorns start hitting the ground. Because of this, significant boots-on-the-ground scouting, combined with our trail-camera eyes in the woods, will likely be necessary for success on these highly nocturnal bucks early in the month. In addition to this, I’ll continue to hunt afternoons almost exclusively until the last seven to 10 days of October, at which point bucks should start exhibiting some early rut activity and expand their travel areas. Daytime buck movement should increase significantly the last week of October, especially if we have a cold front move through, after which I’ll make it a point to hunt both mornings and afternoons for two to three days following the front’s passage.
“With gun deer season starting a little later this year than last, the first week of rifle season should be a great time to be in the deer woods, assuming the weather isn’t so warm that it suppresses daytime movement. But if I had to pick only one day to deer hunt in October, it would be Halloween, with this day being a good choice for an all-day sit—and to get a jump-start on the month of November!”
Macon County: David Keene, of Oglethorpe, reports, “All I have been seeing in the daytime is does and spotted fawns. Bucks are on my cameras during the nighttime only. Acorns are dropping like crazy, I can hear the deer crunching on them every time I have been in the woods. Hope to get my food plots planted this week, plowed them several weeks ago but have not had any rain in over a month. Still have plenty of kudzu and honeysuckle for the deer to eat. Cooler mornings are feeling great. Hopefully the deer will move better this week. Good luck and be safe.”
Twiggs County: Richie Green, of Jeffersonville, reports, “The deer seem to be avoiding me so far this year. I had eight sits before I even knew there were deer here. But it’s surely been hot, so I would understand that if I hadn’t seen them on my trail cameras at 1 and 2 o’clock in the daylight where I wasn’t at. I’ve been saving my best spot for cooler weather and hotter does when the white oaks start falling, but it’s all I can do to stay out of there when the does stay there all day long. Maybe it will pay off. The weather is going to be good the last week of September, so maybe the bucks will get frisky a little and show their faces.
“The white oaks are hit and miss here, which will work to our favor if you have one loaded somewhere. Food plots and corn feeders are working, it looks like from the pictures I’ve been seeing.
“Dylan Little traveled to Monroe County to kill a giant 10-point. He said the arrow hit a limb, so he backed out to get a tracking dog but the shot was perfect, so it was a short track. He kills good deer every year.”
“The deer look good this year. I see plenty of fawns on camera and on the sides of the road, but I have not gotten a shooter buck on camera yet, but I know that will come.
“I think the winter plots will be the ticket this year because of the lack of acorns here. I always sweeten mine up right before a rain with nitrogen in October, and the deer keep them mowed down to the root. No fruit made, so corn and plots are best for early and late season around here.
“I haven’t found any sign yet, but it’s still too early unless it’s velvet rubbing to shine those antlers up. I’m hoping for cool weather and safe hunting. Oh yeah, and being in the Truck-Buck Shoot-Out next year. Good luck to all.”
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