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The Rut Winds Down in the Rockies, Heats up Along the Coast

White-Tailed Deer


The Rut Winds Down in the Rockies, Heats up Along the Coast

Posted 2023-11-28  by  Jackie Holbrook

The peak rut appears to be over in Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana, while hunters in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington are seeing a lot of chasing and seeking behavior among blacktails

As November winds down, so is the rut among whitetails and mule deer in Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana. With the majority of general seasons for antlered deer closed in Idaho and Wyoming, the number of hunters chasing rutting bucks is also on the decline. In Montana, hunters had one final shot at tagging out during Thanksgiving weekend.

The rut peaked among Montana’s mule deer about a week ago. While hunters are still spotting young bucks on the move through their glass, the majority of mature muley bucks have vanished. A week ago the landscape was littered with bucks, and now hunters can spot herds of does without a single buck in sight. Some mature bucks may have returned to higher elevations or thicker cover as snow levels in much of the Northwest are relatively low in many areas.

Montana hunters hoping to tag a mature buck in the final weekend of the season may have a better shot if they pursue whitetails. While hunters are reporting less chasing and seeking behavior among whitetails than a week prior, there’s still above-average daylight activity and breeding behavior. As bucks move into lockdown, now may be a good time to try rattling or grunting in an attempt to target aggressive bucks in their bedroom.

Oregon and Washington hunters with late-season tags are reporting the rut has reached its peak among blacktails. While traditionally the most elusive of the deer species, hunters are seeing more daylight activity and movement of the grey ghost. Many of the late-season tags are archery only. Now is a good time to sit all day patiently waiting for a buck to cruise through the thick timber in its search for does.

In the far Northwest, most big game seasons close long before many begin in the Lower 48. However, late November can be a deer hunter’s dream in Alaska, as long as conditions cooperate for air and water travel. Alaska’s blacktails live in thick, nasty brush. This makes them tough to target earlier in the year when the snow is too sparse for tracking and the deer remain in exhaustingly high elevations. But snow has driven blacktails to lower elevations and hunters are seeing a lot of bucks moving at all hours of the day as the peak rut has arrived.


  • Day Activity

  • Rubbing

  • Scraping

  • Fighting

  • Seeking

  • Chasing

  • Breeding

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