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. 15:** If you’re not finding whitetail bucks foolishly in the rut this week, may I suggest:

1. Be patient just a few days longer if your season allows.

2. Check another location, since whitetail hunters almost everywhere in the West are reporting some sort of rutting activity, sometimes with big intensity differences in roughly the same area.

While the Oregon buck pictured above was absorbed by his scent and the scent of other bucks on a branch when photographed recently by Jim Johnson, northwestern Montana hunter Ron Nail found another way to make bucks swoon this week.

“On my walk in to one of my stands, I had a doe tarsal gland tied on a string, which I dragged along behind, and when I got a few yards from the stand I hung it up from a tree limb,” he said.

Two young bucks were lured in at dark. One of the bucks started grunting and made about six laps around the little tree in which Nail had hung the gland. But on that day, the fawns were still hanging with the does, which weren’t acting like breeding was on their minds, yet.

That could change today. The rut is headed toward high gear.

On Sunday in northeastern Washington, Jim Ebel saw a fork horn with does at 11 a.m. “An hour later, an 18-inch 4×4 fed around my stand for 15 minutes, completely ignoring traditional scrape areas and showing no signs of rutting behavior. This area is devoid of scrapes– a few half hearted attempts–but nothing like last year.”

Ten miles north, it’s totally differently different, he said, suggesting the reason is more competition among a concentration of bucks:

“The area to the north has landowners feeding deer since the rifle hunting season ended and bucks have been attracted there for quite some time.”