Landers: Rut Tapering Off in West

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. 6: Whitetails throughout most of the West are turning their attention from procreation to survival.

Eastern Washington hunter Brandon Enevold arrowed this nice buck over the Thanksgiving holiday on the first day of the late archery season when rutting activity was hot and heavy. (Incidentally, he and his brother have trail-cam photos of this buck going back three years!) But the rut is cooling down.

I watched a buck tailing a doe for a 30 minutes on Friday and I heard a couple reports that bucks are still reponding to grunt tubes. Then I spent time in several locales this weekend and spotted nearly a dozen groups of 4-6 does without seeing a buck.

Snow and cold has forced deer out of the mountains and concentrated them at lower elevations, bringing new players into view for rut observer and Eastern Washington landowner Hal Meenach.

"Things have slowed," he concurred Saturday. "I saw about three dozen does and fawns today, no antlered escorts."