Whitetail Hunting photo

We’ve examined (and debated) the existence and/or effects of the much-dreaded October “lull” period in this space many times. Whether or not you believe in the lull doesn’t matter; what’s important is that right now, across the region, whitetails are in a transition between predictable summer patterns and the frenzy of the rut. That shift can throw hunters for a loop, especially if their focus is on mature bucks. Older whitetails don’t move much in daylight anyway, and when food and cover sources change—as they’re doing now—targeting a mature buck can be a challenge.

But if huge antlers aren’t the goal, there’s plenty of great hunting to be had. I offer as evidence the recent advent of youth deer hunting opportunities across the region. Several states have held, or will soon host, special hunts designed solely for young hunters. Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri are all known for their kid-friendly deer hunting seasons. I believe these special hunts on which parents (or other experienced mentors) sacrifice their field time to assist a youngster are an excellent solution for attracting and keeping new hunters.

Ted Marum, whom I use for a contact often in this space, couldn’t agree more. Marum, owner of Tri-State Outfitting, had the pleasure of seeing his daughters Teagan and Addison tag deer during Wisconsin’s annual youth deer hunt last weekend. Since does and younger bucks are still actively hitting food plots, Ted decided a blind placed near their edge was a sound strategy for the Saturday opener. Ted sat with Teagan as she took her first deer ever—a plump and healthy doe—Saturday afternoon. Teagan followed that up with a nice six-point buck (above left) the following afternoon. Addison, meanwhile, hunting with mentor Greg Cristoffel, also got a nice doe, then made a great 150-yard shot that downed a big-bodied 8-pointer (right). Both girls shot rifles chambered for 7mm/08–a caliber with light recoil but plenty of punch. All four whitetails were recovered quickly.

Sure, the best whitetail action of the season is yet to come. Pre-rut activity is a solid 10 days away, and the excitement of the general firearms hunt even further in the future. But for those lucky enough to mentor a young hunter during a youth hunt, it might be tough to top the adrenaline rush of watching a rookie tag their first deer. “Addison was telling me about her hunt with Greg,” Marum told me this morning. ‘We were watching this buck,’ she said, ‘and he was asking me if I thought I could make the shot. And I knew that I could and told him so. Then I said “Is that you, breathing so hard?” He said “Of course it is! I’m more excited than you are!” So I just kept looking in the scope…and then I shot the buck and he fell right there!’ “
Pretty hard to beat that kind of action….October lull or not.