By my own experience, I can say that what Preston and you note is true. The only piece of advice I can give you if you are truly interested in shooting a big buck is to get into the most dense cover you can.
I did that for a few years, but found it didn’t really satisfy me. In the end, the better meat of younger bucks and does goes farther to feed my family and my joy in hunting.
The danger in trophy hunting is that we enable our egocentric nature to rise to even greater heights of self-centeredness. At it’s core, Hunting is a community activity. The community, the family, survives by the success of its hunters. Now, with survival not reliant on a good hunter, hunting has been perverted into yet another opportunity to strut our stuff.
It really turns me off to see guys get all “emotional” about killing a big deer and thanking it for its sacrifice. Chances are they won’t eat any of the deer, or even see the meat. What a hollow gesture. Anyone who has eaten a randy old buck knows its meat is about as gawd-awful as it gets. Why hold your nose and force it down when you can eat a tasty doe or four pointer?
Trophy hunting gives the anti’s their best ammunition.
I like to kill a big buck, same as everybody else. But I don’t hunt them anymore. But if one happens by….
Sorry for the off-topic rant.
Back to matters at hand. I have found that there is a lull in the rut. Some folks call it first rut and second rut. After the first active phase of the rut, there is a lull until the younger does, or those missed in the first phase come into estrus again. Then the activity picks up again.
In the south, this cycle goes on at least three times. I think your rut starts earlier than our’s does. So maybe the last week in October represents the peak of your first rut. In NC, the average peak of the rut is about Nov 8th. So that seems right that your’s would be a week or two earlier.
When the leaves come off down here, the deer go nocturnal. Really tough to get a shot. Sneak in really close to thick stuff and hope for the best.