Landers: Hot and Quiet Bow Openers

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.

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Hot weather and a brief cooling trend followed by record or near-record hot weather greeted archery hunters out for the opening of whitetail hunting seasons the past week in western states.

Then came the full moon.

"Our bow season is off to a slow start, mostly due to the very warm and dry conditions," said Ron Nail of Kalispell, Mont. "Deer movement is fairly limited in the morning to, before sunrise, and in the evening, about an hour before dark."

Nail expects the deer to be feeding even more at night and moving less during the day in this full-moon phase.

Although the velvet seems to peel off most bucks around Sept. 1, hunters are seeing some major differences in antler appearance.

In northeastern Washington, Kevin Scheib saw two nice bucks while scouting over the weekend: One was all rubbed clean, the other still had velvet hanging off his rack, he said.

A little farther south, Brandon Enevold has had plenty of action near his stands as well as at his trail cams as bucks continue to be in summer feeding patterns.

The night of Sept. 6, he snapped photo documentation (above) of two bucks, one in full velvet and the other with a bone-clean rack.

"I'll be letting both of these bucks grow for another year or two," he said, offering an explanation for his patience: "I passed up 10 bucks over Labor Day weekend and almost got a shot at a solid 140 incher."

But he said the hot weather shut down his action the last few days. The bucks are taking it easy, and he's trying to do the same.