Northwest Rut Report: Big Bucks Are Starting to Move


Northwest Rut Report: Big Bucks Are Starting to Move

Posted 2021-11-07T21:08:00Z  by  Jackie Holbrook

Older bucks are moving more and further during daylight. Be ready when one walks by your treestand

Northwest Rut Report: Big Bucks Are Starting to Move - image_by_john_hafner-nw

This week I'm getting mixed reports from friends in the field. I've been told everything from the rut is running late to it's in full swing. With the Northwest's peak rut roughly expected mid-November, you never know what you'll see this first week.

One thing is for certain, the pre-rut is here, and big bucks are starting to move more. Weather has been favorable for deer movement across the Northwest. Most mornings feel crisp, and the highs are ranging between 35 and 60 degrees.

I had to do a double take when I spotted a mature mule deer buck cruising for does on public land near my house in Montana. I wasn't hunting; I was on mom duty dropping the kid off at school. But there's a small patch of public land on my way home that I like to drive by and see what's happening. It's archery only, so the deer face less pressure and are often more visible. I usually spot several does, and lately, I've been seeing a couple of forkies. But on this particular morning, my eye caught the unmistakable build of a large buck. Mature bucks only show up in this area in the weeks surrounding the rut and vanish into the mountains when it's over. More than an hour after first light, there he was, trotting along with his swollen neck, looking for does.

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Across north-central Montana, I've spotted several other mature bucks hanging out near large groups of does midday, both whitetails and mule deer. However, these sightings were all on private land where deer aren't facing much pressure. If you have access to private land right now, you'll probably have better luck spotting a big buck. I routinely see large groups of does and younger bucks in these areas, but in recent days there seems to be an influx of mature bucks moving in. Though I didn't witness any breeding activity, it looks like mature deer are moving in closer to the ladies in anticipation of the first does coming into estrus.

Mule deer in Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana seem to be on a rut schedule that's a little ahead of the whitetails this year. People are spotting scrapes, rubs, and midday movement from younger whitetails, but I haven't received any reports of mature bucks out seeking at all hours.

It's a different story for the gray ghosts in southern Oregon. Rihana Cary, the hype marketing manager at Mtn Ops, says Oregon's blacktails are rutting like crazy right now. Cary, along with her two hunting partners, tagged out on nice bucks within two days of beginning their hunt. Cary said the buck she shot was chasing a doe hard.

Across the Northwest, the weather is looking good and the bucks are starting to move. As the days turn on the calendar, if the rut isn't in your hunt area yet, it should arrive any day now. The best days are about to happen soon.

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  • Day Activity

  • Rubbing

  • Scraping

  • Fighting

  • Seeking

  • Chasing

  • Breeding