The big boys are up on their feet now, and a combination of good luck and good strategy will account for a passel of nice bucks over the weekend. I’ve seen an increasing number of big-buck pictures over the last few days, and the size of the bucks has increased notably. Spokane, Washington’s Mark Bove downed this big Idaho mountain buck a few days ago. Like a lot of hunters, he recognized the coinciding of excellent weather factors and peak rutting and got out in the field.

“When the weather snapped into the single digits, I knew it was time to get into the whitetail woods,” said Bove. “Due to family, work, and burned vacation days on unsuccessful elk hunts, I had to make my few days count. I had a bit of time so my beautiful girlfriend, Bri, and I headed down to our Idaho whitetail spot.

“We spent our morning shivering in 4-degree temperatures and didn’t so much as see a deer. We decided to head back, and on the way to the truck we spotted a nice 4×4 chasing a doe. Despite our best effort, we couldn’t get on him. After a nice lunch and lots of coffee, I headed out into the freezing temps to my favorite meadow. I sat for about an hour before I let out my first call.

“A grunt is all it took for a young buck to come in and investigate. I gave him the pass. As 4 o’clock came a couple does walked through on high alert. I heard a great deal of commotion in the timber, and knew a buck was chasing. I grunted after the first doe ran through the meadow into the timber on the other side. Seconds later a true mountain monarch stood at the edge of the timber just 150 yards away. I pulled up my trusted 300 WSM and squeezed off the shot. He dropped in his tracks. I thank God for the opportunity to harvest such a great buck.”

Modern rifle opportunities are still going strong in north Idaho and Montana, but Washington’s popular late rifle season for Whitetails drew to a close Wednesday, unleashing muzzleloader and archery hunters during the most lucrative phase of the rut for the biggest bucks.