Rut Reporter Rich Landers, a native Montanan and life-long hunter, is the outdoors editor for The Spokesman-Review in Spokane. He has written several books about the western outdoors and has hunted whitetails all his life. States covered: WA, OR, ID, MT, WY, CO.

Oct. 21: Chris van Kempen spent a full day scouting and hunting his favorite area in Stevens County, Washington, and made these observations four days after the deer hunting season opener: “I noticed two small basket bucks banging heads together in a middle of a field at 8:30 a.m. today. Just the two of them; no other deer in the field.


“I also made a mock scrape Sunday and returned to it this morning at a different location in the same unit at first light. A tree next to it was tore up (above); looked like real aggression.

“Then I went on with the morning hunt and found nine does and no bucks feeding out in a open field. We observed them for about one hour before they went into the trees leaving one doe behind that traveled totally the other direction.”

In Wyoming’s Sheridan Region, the bucks are fighting now, especially the 110-120 inch, 2- to 3-year-old bucks, said Brian Beisher of Big Buck Outfitters. “Not just sparring but 30-second dominance fights,” he emphasized.

Groups of mature bucks are breaking up already. On Oct. 15, Beisher’s hunters bagged a great mature seven-pointer with one broken browtine – freshly snapped off. Last weekend, another hunter tagged a huge-bodied 10-point with a broken G3, main beam, and G4.

“Bachelor groups of whitetails are a thing of the past now,” he said, “but bucks still have no visible interest in the does.” Remember, rattling often is a productive tactic for bucks in pre-rut mode as the begin and to follow and chase does.