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.

Dec. 3: Late-season hunters, especially those who get to hunt bucks with bows and muzzleloaders, are enjoying the fruits of the rut and the bonus of snow and little competition.


In eastern Washington Unit 130, Gabe Bancroft, 14, enjoyed the complete package of being a successful deer hunter last weekend. Taking advantage of the late muzzleloader season that opens as the whitetail rut begins to ebb, he joined his uncle Shawn O’Kert to get in position where deer had been moving.


The buck was still on the prowl, and Bancroft bagged it at close range with a .50-caliber rifle. “He came in to a grunt tube at 1:30 p.m.,” said O’Kert, who also called in a buck the previous day.

The photos above shows Gabe putting his muscle into dragging his trophy back to the vehicle, and Gabe with his dad, Chris Bancroft.

Will this be a lesson that leads him shoot a spike next time?

I’m betting no.