Every deer season there comes a time when placing a priority on morning hunts over evening hunts, creates enourmous opportunities for whitetail hunters. However, make sure that you aren't making the switch from evening to morning deer stands too early, because your future rut hunts may be in jeapordy.
SWITCHING FROM EVENING TO MORNING HUNTS
Although morning hunts account for 75% of my kills, they only account for 25% of my overall sit opportunities. There is a definite time to make the switch and when you understand the timing, you will greatly improve your mature buck odds. If you move in to sit in a morning stand too early, you risk spooking deer and spoiling the locations for the next 2-3 weeks. In most peoples hunting timing calendar, spooking deer for 2-3 weeks during early to mid October, would include major portions of the rut. While I love to hit a morning stand or two during the early season and into mid October, I make sure that 3 things can happen:
1. I can avoid both daytime bedding and morning feeding areas while accessing my stand.
2. My downwind scent is completely blocked - often greatly assisted with the morning thermals!
3. I am not sitting in a morning movement, that is the same movement in reverse, that I will be hunting during an afternoon sit.
The bottom line? If I can get away with and can still find the time and treestands to place a priority on an evening sit during the early season, I may take a chance.
MORNING WEATHER SWITCH
If you don't get a least a little chilly during the bulk of your morning sits, there is a good chance that you may have picked the wrong morning. Nothing silenty screams, "Mature Buck", like a still, frosty morning. If that happens in early October, without a doubt I will find a morning stand and take a chance. However, when that frosty morning takes place during the last week to 10 days of October, those are the mornings that I have planned the entire year for!
From somewhere around October 15th to October 22nd, I make the switch. While typically the priority of the hunt switches from the evening to morning sits somewhere during this time, I do slant that priority more towards the 22nd, than the 15th. It really is that critical. At some point the mature bucks seem to take every cold morning opporunity to cruise around within several acres of their core, daytime security cover. While mature bucks may be just grabbing a quick snack of apples or oaks, I have personally observed numerous bucks creating a pile of rubs and scrapes. The action during the last 10 days of October is sparse, but not random. The weather sets the rollercoaster of activity and even though it may be limited, you can count on ever cold morning producing rutting activity and movement.
As a general guide including all pre-rut timings for the North 1/2 of the Country, the switch from evening to morning hunting priorities, would begin somewhere around the 15th and then peak towards the end of October. However, I love to pay attention in the woods and am forever scouting the lands that I hunt, while too and from stands. When you see major sign popping up in your neck of the whitetail woods (scrapes AND rubs!) and morning frosts begin, make sure that your priority of daily whitetail hunting, begins to make the shift from evening to morning hunting opportunities.