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.



Idaho offers an incentive to white-tailed deer purists– a special “whitetail tag.” By forfeiting a chance to harvest a mule deer, Idaho whitetail tag holders get to hunt later in November in some units to take advantage of the rut.

That’s why the hunter above is devoting the early part of the season to scouting and just being out. The best is yet to come.

The whitetail tag isn’t particularly attractive in the Idaho Panhandle, where general tag holders have liberal seasons that extend into the rut in most units. But it’s a different story in the Clearwater region and farther south in Idaho.

“Our regular deer tag allows hunters to hunt deer through Nov. 3, which is great for those who want to look for deer while they’re hunting elk,” said Jay Crenshaw, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional wildlife manager in Lewiston. “But it doesn’t give them a chance to hunt during the rut, which peaks around the third week of November.

“By contrast, whitetail tag holders in our region can hunt the early archery season. Then they can hunt with a rifle starting Oct. 10 and continuing past Nov. 3 to hunt the beginning of the rut when bucks become motivated and rattling works to bring them in.

“The best part of hunting later is that they’re relatively alone in the woods by then, and if the weather cooperates with cold and snow to concentrate the deer, the hunting can be very, very good.”