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.
Nov. 11:** Western Montana is a tough place to beat for big-game hunting when everything’s clicking. Verification comes from Jerry Schively, who was guiding Major League Baseball pitcher Alan Embree on Wednesday morning when they found a nice whitetail buck that was out cruising for does. Bam. Buck down.


Embree, a Vancouver, Wash., native who lives in Georgia after serving several teams as a lefty reliever, thought he was having a pretty good day of hunting at that point, until about an hour later. That’s when he bagged a five-point bull elk and a good day became a great day by Montana standards.

“The bucks are starting to dog the does now with some serious chasing going on,” said Schively of Flat Iron Outfitting.
Idaho Panhandle:** Hunters are turning their attention to deer now that the elk season is over and the whitetail rut is hitting stride. Jim Hayden, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional wildlife manager in Coeur d’Alene, offered timely advice: “My grandpa’s Hunting Rule No. 1 was ‘Don’t hunt where they ain’t!’ “

Whitetail hunters usually must look to different terrain than they would for mule deer. To help zero hunters into the most productive areas, he shared these hunting harvest stats.

The top overall success rates for whitetail bucks are in Unit 5 with 26 percent success. Units 1 and 2 are close runners up with about 23 percent followed by Units 3 and 6 around 18 percent. Units 5, 1 and 6, in that order, have produced the best chances of bagging a five-point or better buck. And now is prime time to become one of those success stats.


I’ve been seeing new scrapes showing up overnight in several places I’ve checked in the region, as witnessed by my English setters, shown above swilling whitetail scent in a brief break from deer scouting and ruffed grousing.

Wyoming: Smaller whitetail bucks are with does and chasing, said John Geiman of G-Man Outdoor Adventure who was scouting in the Newcastle area. More bucks are showing along fields in the evenings, with some sparring observed. Scrapes have been showing, too.

Eastern Washington: Two spikes were with six does when Chris van Kempen scouted his first field in Stevens County earlier this week. The does spooked after a youth hunter he was helping shot at and missed one of the little bucks. Shortly, however, they spotted a three-point buck that came to where the does had been. The buck had its nose to the ground the whole way. “I would bet one of those does was really close to estrus,” he said. Just 15 minutes after the shot, the buck came right in, fairly oblivious.

Dylan “Boone” Vinning didn’t miss the second opportunity. The bigger buck became the kid’s first.