BY Patrick Meitin November 8, 2019
While things happen a little later here than other states, the Northwest is beginning to see quality movement. Things should really kick off with the next week or so.
Things are sparking in Washington. Bait stations and feeders are being visited by 3 ½-year-old — and occasionally 4 ½-year-old — bucks. More mature deer are appearing daily, but usually under the cover of darkness. By the time archery season opens mid-month, things should really be rocking.
Scrapes are being worked and rub lines are expanding. Does and young bucks are moving throughout the day in most areas, with many 3½-year-old bucks showing up on cameras during legal shooting hours, too. Bigger bucks are appearing sporadically during legal shooting hours, too — which means occupying a stand right now isn’t a waste of time. Things should pick up by next week. But this weekend should prove worthwhile for sitting, and especially for glassing sunny hillsides and clear-cut edges, while rifle hunting.
Interestingly, the majority of buck activity captured on cameras during the week occurred during evening hours, mostly after sunset. Morning images were dominated by large doe groups and yearling bucks. Don’t worry if you’re capturing nothing but does on cameras. This is a good thing — bucks will be along to check them out shortly. Temperature trends are warming slightly across the Inland Northwest, but not so much that deer should become nocturnal.
Mike Ellig, owner of Black Gold Sights, said a lot of new scrapes are beginning to turn up. He actually watched a mature buck make a scrape during the week, evidence that this activity isn’t just being conducted by young bucks. Ellig has not witnessed any bucks chasing does yet, but says does have grown more nervous while out in the open. He believes things are about to bust wide open. He labeled weather “super nice for hunting” with highs in the 40s and lows in the teens and 20s. Ellig predicts this weekend will offer excellent hunting.
Thomas Tabor, an outdoor writer from the Hamilton area of west central Montana, said mule deer near home have gathered harems and are tending does. He has also observed a few heated buck battles but hasn’t witnessed any actual breeding. Last week, Tabor tagged an old warrior he believes arrived from outside his immediate area, as his antlers had been rubbed on firs/pines instead of the local sage (which makes antlers paler). In this region, what mule deer are doing generally mirrors what can be expected from whitetails.
Dustin DeCroo of Bighorn Outfitters out of Buffalo, Wyoming, said weather hasn't been ideal for deer movement this week, with highs in the 40s and 50s. Wyoming deer (and deer across the Northwest in general) typically move best when temperatures turn downright brutal. DeCroo said deer aren't yet showing much rut activity, which isn’t out of the ordinary this time of year. He predicts festivities to really get moving around November 10.
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