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.
__**Nov. 18:** While Colorado whitetails appear to be slower in rising to the occasion of the rut, the West is virtually steaming with hormone-charged bucks.
“Here the bucks are really chasing,” said Keith Miller of Montana Whitetails in Bozeman, Mont., sending a photo of a client with the nice river-bottom buck above. “We’re seeing up to five different bucks trailing or chasing a single doe. The action is spread out over several miles, but it’s evident that does are ready and being bred.”
As predicted in this blog two weeks ago, rattling is calling in a lot of smaller bucks this week while most of the bigger bucks have been locked down with does.
Cynthia Howard of Plains, Mont., bagged her buck, pictured above, this week as it was tending a scrape near her stand. She pulled the trigger while the buck was working over the overhanging branches of an apple tree, reported Jim Day of Flat Iron Outfitting.
Montana’s southwest area also is ripe with rut activity, according to Craig Jourdonnais, state Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist.
“The deer rut is largely responsible for the increase in whitetail harvest (noted at check stations) this week,” he said. “With the fresh snow and rut going on, hunting conditions are good.”
Whitetails were the most common animal checked at all three west-central Montana hunter check stations during week three of the big-game season, he said.
In Eastern Washington, the rut is hot with plenty of rubs and scrapes, said Tom Loder of Panhandle Outfitters. “Larger bucks are keeping within close range of the does,” he said. “A client missed a nice, large (160 class) buck on Saturday.” The late rifle season in the northeast portion of the state closes on Friday.
Colorado areas, however, are still getting started. Mike Bondurant of LaGarita Outfitters said his latest report from the Lamar area indicated some rutting activity, but not a lot of aggressiveness, yet.