The season's first snows have deer on the hoof during daylight, but rut activity is light if anything at all
After a scorching summer, the Big Sky state experienced its first big snowstorm mid-October, which predictably kick-started deer movement. This is welcome relief for bowhunters who battled blazing temps all season. Up until recently, whitetails have been primarily nocturnal. However, immediately following the storm I witnessed large herds of whitetails feeding midday in agricultural areas across southwest and south-central Montana. Groups of mature bucks and does can still be spotted hanging out together peacefully.
With the peak rut predicted to arrive mid-November, the action should start to heat up soon. Hunters are noticing a little more rut action in muleys in north-central Montana. I saw a small buck out cruising for does. A friend also sent me a photo of a muley sporting a very swollen neck, a telltale sign that the rut is on its way.
Like many areas across the Northwest, parts of Wyoming are facing extreme drought conditions. Hunters are reporting the most whitetail activity in agricultural areas where there is still food and water to be found. Biologists say mule deer will likely remain in green areas up high as long as possible.
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The state can't catch a break because instead of easing into fall, Wyoming was hammered with unseasonable snow in mid-October that created dangerous conditions and road closures. However, these recent snow events have the deer up and moving, which is much different from just a week ago. One friend who hunted muleys early in the season in southeast Wyoming reported they were hard to come by. Another friend who spent time in the field chasing mule deer a little later in the season reported fewer deer than in previous years and no sign of rut activity.
Idaho's rifle season is underway and people are punching tags, but it's not helped by any rut activity. Heavy snow has deer on the move. Jordan Budd, a guide and media producer, tagged out on a nice muley buck during the first week of the general season. She reports that she didn't notice any rutlike activity or sign during her time in the field. But she says the snowy conditions really make the deer pop.
With cool temperatures moving in and out across the Northwest, hunters should expect more movement during the day — and as the calendar moves toward the end of the month, more sign of rut activity.
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