What deer activity are you seeing?
Things have been good the past couple of weeks. But rain is setting in for the weekend hunt. And that will pose challenges for most hunters in the region.
The rut is still weeks away. Numerous sources in northeastern Washington tell me buck movement is slowly increasing, though. But the best activity hasn't really kicked off yet. Mature bucks are still moving mostly at night, and Washington's ongoing firearms season will no doubt slow daytime movement.
Cool fall weather prevails in the Inland Northwest. That said, forecasts for the coming weekend promise warming winds out of the south, bringing with them nearly guaranteed rain. The answer? Pack your Thiessens rain gear. Cool midday temperatures have resulted in good deer movement throughout the day. But for the most part, sightings still consist of does and younger bucks. That's especially accurate on public lands where rifle hunters are afield.
So far, rub and scrape activity has been pretty slow, perhaps slightly behind last year's activities. Checking trail cameras has revealed a slight uptick in mature buck appearances, though, with most appearances occurring at night. That said — and with the rut at least two to three weeks out — there have been a few more bucks showing up on cameras and even crowding the edges of legal shooting hours. This makes stand time worthwhile, as you might just get lucky.
Dustin Bromley, a friend who hunts in the Panhandle region, says all the deer observed last weekend were still in solid feeding and bedding patterns. Bromley reports seeing two scrapes, though most of the bucks they saw were still in loose bachelor groups. They also witnessed a few smaller bucks sparring, but without any real aggression. This is in stark contrast to what I've observed, though.
Bachelor groups have definitely broken up in Montana. Scrapes and rubs are appearing in good numbers, and some sources report they've even seen young bucks nosing does. Cool temperatures should help spark more rutting activity for the coming weekend, though it could prove a wet one. The opening days of the general season have the potential to slow action in some areas. All said, movement is revolving around early morning and late-evening hours. All indications signal it's time to begin spending more time on stand. Typically, the Montana rut kicks off around the first of November.
Bighorn Outfitter's Dustin DeCroo, operating out of Buffalo, Wyoming, says deer movement continues to be reliable on his hunting properties. This is in contrast to last year when temperatures were warmer, and action slowed around this time of year. Scrapes are being constructed and freshened regularly — especially following rain showers — and bachelor groups have disbanded for the year. It shouldn't be more than a week or week and half until Cowboy State deer hunters begin observing serious rutting activity.
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