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Is Halloween the Best Time To Hunt Big Bucks?

Heath Wood

There is a particular time of year that many hunters look forward to. It is the perfect time to be sitting in a treestand or blind pursuing a mature buck.

I have found that the weeks near Halloween seem to be a magical time of year for hunting big bucks. For many hunters, Halloween, as well as the days surrounding this holiday, are not only for spooky movies and trick-or-treating; it is also a time when hunting is at its best. 

A few variables must line up to produce the perfect time for peak buck activity. Weather, moon phases, and rut activity are all things to consider. 

Matt Drury buck

Lately, along with other hunters, I have become accustomed to using a new resource as a tool. Drury’s Deer Cast app informs the hunters of the best days to hunt using collected data from the Drurys themselves through several years of successfully hunting and harvesting mature bucks.

To dig deeper into why many hunters anticipate this time of year, I sat down with Matt Drury of Drury Outdoors to get his opinions on when is the best time to hunt, how Deer Cast can help, and what hunters need to do to take full advantage of this peak time of year.

Matt Drury agrees that the magical time of year is somewhere around the last of October and the beginning of November. 

“In general, my favorite time to start sitting more often in a stand is that last 4 or 5 days of October and the first ten days of November,” said Drury. “The moon plays a big part in when peak activity will occur and can affect peak times by a few days either way. Right now, we are really fortunate the full moon is hitting on Halloween this year.”

Drury was excited when saying that presently his game cameras were lighting up like Christmas trees and suggest that hunters should be hunting right now. “I would not hesitate to say I would be hunting those first 3 to 4 hours of the day and the last 3 hours of the day,” said Drury. He then suggested when the full moon does hit, hunt all day or most of the day, hunt closer to bedding areas in the morning, and close to food sources in the evening.

Matt Drury

For the beginning hunter or the ones that may not know the answer to why this string of days in late October through the first week and a half of November are so good. Drury explained, “Most mature bucks are up on their feet during this time; they are trying to find the first available doe to breed before any other bucks.” He then said that he calls this time the buck parade. “Bucks are on their feet; they are moving; they are doing things they normally wouldn’t be doing.” He then added that historically around Halloween is when this peak occurs resulting in many hunters having success.

This year seems to be no different. Bucks are beginning to move, and rut activity is taking place across the country. “With the full moon this year occurring on Halloween, and the weather forecast being ideal, it is going to be great hunting,” said Drury. He then added that the few days before the full moon might even be better.

Drury’s Deer Cast is an app that picks up on weather variables for the specific location you are hunting. “In my home area, it is trending to be a great next few days. We have a little bit of mist, the temperatures have really dropped, and on the peak day we have the first south wind after several days from the north, which is always good,” said Drury. Drury expects deer movement in the Midwest area, specifically, buck movement, to be great on Halloween day because of the wind being from the south after several days from the north.

Mark and Terry Drury developed the Deer Cast. Together, they have had 70-plus years of experience watching deer movement. “Once they started watching and studying trail cameras in 2004 and 2005 is when they started paying attention to deer movement at night, which helped put the missing pieces of the puzzle together,” said Drury. “We have taken 13 different weather variables for any given hour and any given location, and the app predicts what is going on in your area.” 

“You cannot predict outside influences such as neighbors hunting, other hunters, and predators. However, in general, we feel like we have a pretty good wrap on what deer are going to be doing based on the weather, and we then collate that off of the 13 phases of deer season, which is what our TV show ‘Thirteen’ is based on,” said Drury. He then added that if you are in the South and your peak estrus is different; you can go to the app and change the peak estrus date. For example, if your peak time is November 24, compared to November 14, which is when Drury said they expect peak estrus to be in the Midwest, the app will then slide the 13 phases to adjust accordingly to your specific date. Drury said that Deer Cast can be one more tool to the hunter’s arsenal to help understand what deer are doing and when is the best time to hunt. 

Matt Drury treestand

Many predictions and past experiences lead the app to predict that the next few weeks in much of the country are highly favorable for buck movement. Drury suggests that hunters get aggressive with their hunting strategies, which is why many hunters love this time of year. It is exciting and action-packed.

“Bucks during this time of year are more actively aggressive; they respond more to calling and rattling because they are looking for a fight since they don’t want any other bucks in their area getting to their does first,” said Drury.  He explained that by honing in on these behaviors and using aggressive calling strategies, hunters will reap the benefits of this once-a-year deer behavior. “It is nothing to see a buck up on his feet at 10 a.m. during this time, which is why hunters need to be aggressive, hunt all day, and take advantage of it.”

Halloween is a time of year for many spooky stories and tales. However, when talking about the right time to hunt mature bucks, there are no tall tales; all the stories are true. The only thing scary about this time of year is that you are not in your stand, reaching into your bags of tricks when he comes strolling by looking for love or fighting anyone who gets in his way. The time to hunt is now!

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