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. 29: The peak of whitetail breeding around the Western states clashed with bitter temperatures and snow in the past few days. Hunters who got out on the right side of a storm and man-upped to the cold had a good chance of finding their mark on bucks deep in the rut.
Archers and other special-season participants are picking up where general rifle seasons have just ended in some states such as Washington and Montana.
Here’s a state-by-state rundown based on my observations and reports from hunters throughout the region.
Colorado: “The deer are running their heads off,” said Mike Bondurant of La Garita Outfitters based in Golden. “Night and day difference from last week.” He said he’d just returned from focusing on Kansas and Idaho, and he was pleases with his timing. “I’ve seen a good fight between two bucks, lots and lots of chasing and lots of scraping.”
Idaho: The scrapes Jeff Strauss had been monitoring were getting no attention just before Thanksgiving, “Then Mother Nature threw the switch and the game is on hot and heavy!” he said as the holiday rolled in.
Montana:** The cold, snowy weather was perfect for keeping deer on the move for the end of the state’s whitetail season, and Florida hunter Ray Rairigh Sr. made the most of it, as you can see in the photo above. Rairigh and his two sons all bagged nice bucks ranging up t 152 inches while hunting with Scott Sundheim of Sioux Pass Outfitters near Fairview.
Bucks have been on the move all day looking for the right doe, and some are holed up tending does, Sundheim said.
With all of his hunters packing for home, Western Montana guide Jerry Shively of Flatiron Outfitters set out to end the season by putting venison in his own freezer. He jumped a small buck out of his bed on Friday morning, but the three-pointer stopped in a fir thicket. “After two short blasts on my old M.A.D. Snort Wheeze, he stuck his neck out to see where his competition was. “End of fun; time for the work,” he reported from the scene.
Oregon:** Jim Johnson said the bucks that have been frequenting his property near Roseburg have departed to be with does. DeWaine Jackson, Oregon Fish and Wildlife whitetail specialist confirmed that “white-tailed bucks are tending” does.” Department staff spotlight surveys indicate that “nearly all groups of does have a buck with them,” he said.
Washington:** With the general deer seasons closed, whitetails are easy to find in the new-fallen snow on the east side of the state. And where I find does, I find bucks. I spotted an alert doe 50 yards ahead while hiking up a closed road on Saturday afternoon. The doe immediately dashed across the road. A nice five point buck — he didn’t give me so much as a glance — was on the doe’s tail as though a 10-foot tow chain were connected from her loins to the buck’s nose.
Wyoming: “The rut was really on last weekend and it is still going strong here in the Sheridan area, said Brian Beisher of Big Buck Outfitters. “Lots of bucks with single does, and lots of breeding going on.”