If you have a deer tag and open season, it's time to layer up, pack some snacks, and plan to sit all day
One week ago, I wondered if any bucks had plans to show up in my hunt area. What a difference a week makes. It feels like a different world out there. If you still have a deer tag and the season is open, pack some snacks, layer up, and plan to hunt all day. Whitetails, blacktails, and mule deer are seeking and chasing does, letting their guard down and providing excellent opportunities for hunters.
In Montana, I witnessed mule deer seeking, chasing, and showing tending behavior. Throwing all caution to the wind in their search for hot does, mature bucks are distracted and consistently on the move during daytime hours. This week, the Flehmen response, also known as the lip curl, was a common sight. On the rare occasion I’d glass a buck that wasn’t on the move, it would be bedded near a doe. Hunters in Idaho and Wyoming witnessed similar behavior. This week’s mule deer hunt plans should be simple: Find the does and you’ll find a buck. If you spot some does without a buck, a hunter has likely been there and filled their tag.
The rut timing among Montana’s whitetails seems to mirror the state’s mule deer. While bucks spent the week searching for does, I was on the hunt for a mature whitetail buck. Unlike the mule deer that are moving all day, I primarily saw whitetail bucks during the first and last hours of daylight. However one morning, I witnessed a middle-aged buck chasing a doe about three hours after sunrise.
When the whitetails are out, they’re active. This week, I didn’t see anything older than a middle-aged buck. Either there wasn’t a mature buck in this particular public land spot or he’s still too smart to present himself in the daylight. However, the younger bucks put on a show, posturing and fighting. When they weren’t messing with each other, they were running does all over the fields.
If you’re hunting the grey ghost in Oregon, now is the perfect time to catch a glimpse. The typically wary blacktails are more visible as they’ve entered the seeking phase of the rut. Hunting podcast host Dave Brinker says he witnessed a lot of rut behavior the final week of October and again from November 5-10, 2023. The blacktail’s home ranges are becoming wider and hunters are reporting new bucks showing up on trail cameras. Hunters are seeing a lot more movement in person during the day.
While many parts of the Northwest were blanketed in snow and freezing temperatures, most of the Northwest is currently enjoying mild weather. This makes it easy and enjoyable to get out. If you haven’t filled a tag yet, now is the time to try to catch a buck on the move, especially as many of the seasons close within the next two weeks.
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