Mule Deer and Whitetails Reach Peak Rut in the Northwest


Mule Deer and Whitetails Reach Peak Rut in the Northwest

Posted 2022-11-29T10:20:00Z  by  Jackie Holbrook

Thanksgiving action was great for hunters who made it out for the final days of the Montana season

Mule Deer and Whitetails Reach Peak Rut in the Northwest - image_by_tom_reichner-nw_0

If you were only able to chase deer for a few days in Montana, Thanksgiving weekend was the ticket. Both whitetails and mule deer are cruising for does with little regard for the time of day and hunting pressure. In Central Montana, I spent an afternoon glassing a mature mule deer buck chase does for hours. I had already punched my tag earlier in the season, and he wasn't quite big enough for my husband. Still, it was fun to watch him run multiple does all afternoon. We spotted another buck moving quickly through the area looking for partners and glassed up two smaller forked-horn bucks pestering does.

Podcaster and guide Peter Panda went afield with a friend in hopes of helping him fill a whitetail doe tag, but thanks to the rut, they left the field with a buck. His friend ended up punching his tag on a nice muley. You know the rut is on fire when a buck sees you and chooses to come straight towards you rather than run away, Panda said.

While the mule deer rut action has been hot for weeks, whitetails around Montana just got started last week. However, it was just in time for some friends to fill their tags. Tricia Ricks filled her deer tag with just days left in the season. During her hunt, she spotted a younger white-tailed buck cruising mid-morning. She passed and was rewarded for her patience with a more mature whitetail buck later in the afternoon, which was also out in search of does.

Tricia Ricks' husband, Lee Ricks, also filled his deer tag on a whitetail buck in the season's final days. He passed a few younger bucks, as he was hoping to fulfill a 25-year dream of using a Model 71 he restocked to harvest a mature buck. When the opportunity presented itself during a single-digit, all-day sit, luckily the gun did its job with deadly efficiency. But the season's excitement didn't end there. With only a doe tag left in his pocket a few days later, he was nearly run over at 10 yards by a nice whitetail that was chasing does.

That's a wrap for hunters in Montana but in Washington, bowhunters still have opportunities. Late archery is open in various units to whitetails, blacktails, and mule deer. Hunters are reporting a lot of seeking behavior from all three species.

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  • Day Activity

  • Rubbing

  • Scraping

  • Fighting

  • Seeking

  • Chasing

  • Breeding