Some Bucks Still on Hunt for Does

The rut is nearly over, and most bucks are back keying on food sources. The swelling of their necks appear to be lessening in most of the trail camera pics I'm seeing, but there are still a few stumblers out there, as north Idaho hunter Troy Pottenger found out.

After a recent skiff of snow near Coeur d' Alene, Pottenger saw snowed-over, closed scrapes. That was three days ago. Yesterday, the Whitetail Addictions pro staffer was only a little surprised to see activity pick up again in his hunting area, including the reemergence of a big, mature buck acting rutty.

"The scrapes were reopened," said Pottenger. "More than that, I also had bucks on cam and saw one big boy dogging a doe hard."

Many of Pottenger's biggest bucks have come during the last week of Idaho's archery season, but he reports that it's lonely in the woods. Almost all pressure has dissipated, and Pottenger, along with the few other hardcore archers still in the field, is left alone with the deer. While he's still seeing rutting behavior, he's seeing deer switch to winter patterns, including increasing their daytime feeding.

Farther north near Oldtown, Idaho, another source has been watching shrunken-necked bucks returning to their daily feeding regimens on his wooded farm. Two bucks he photographed yesterday looked smaller and more haggard than last time I saw then on film in early November.

The rut is almost a wrap in the West, but hunters have another week in Idaho, the West's best deer hunting state, to arrow a last-minute monster. I'll check in with archers later this week as the hunting draws near a close.