Rut Reporter David Draper grew up hunting deer and small game throughout this region and presently lives on a family farm in Nebraska. Draper, former communications specialist for Cabela’s and an authority on the Great Plains, subsists on a diet of duck breast and venison. States covered: ND, SD, NE and KS.
Nov.9–Overall Activity Status:** The heat has returned this past weekend, which coupled with high winds has deer movement spotty and inconsistent across the region. A few days of cool weather last week created a spike in rut activity that has since trended downward as temperatures have increased, but everyone agrees this is the week to be in the woods. Hunters, and the deer, are on edge as they wait for a break in the weather, which looks to happen later this week. All heck is about to break loose as we hit the peak of the rut in the coming days.
Fighting: Bucks are still battling it out, particularly in the southern reach of the Great Plains region. Denton Rich of Mule Creek Outfitters (620-770-1257) in Greensburg, Kansas, sent in a report of two 150-class bucks in serious fight this past Saturday night. Meanwhile, hunters I’ve talked to in Nebraska haven’t had much luck rattling deer in lately.
Rub making:** Rich says rubs are super hot where he is, and that’s the general consensus across the region. Mike Bosma shot this nice buck (Check out those brow tines!) off an active rub line near Canton, S.D., on Friday, Nov. 5. Congratulations, Mike.
Scrape making:** Trail cam pics show that nocturnal visits by both bucks and does to established scrapes are way up right now. Keep an eye on the scrapes in your hunting area to ensure they’re being freshened and plan on sitting any that are showing signs of recent and frequent activity.
Chasing:** Little bucks running does here, big bucks holed up with hot does there– so goes the on again/off again nature of the rut just before we go into lock down. Phil Francone took a week off of work to hunt southeastern Kansas and he says little bucks are pushing does around, but he’s yet to see a big buck anywhere near a doe. A bit farther north in Nebraska, Kurt Kaiser reports seeing a few good bucks tending solitary does and little bucks running around frantically checking every doe they can find.
Daytime movement: Limited to very early morning and late in the evening as heat and high wind are keeping deer down during the mid-day. On Saturday, Nov. 6, Ryan Wellman reported from good deer activity in central Nebraska from first light until 1:15 p.m., when things shut down. Of course, the next day activity was near zero–not surprising as the mercury climbed above 80 degrees that day.
Estrous signs: Wellman did report seeing a good buck Saturday morning that was trailing a smaller buck tending a doe. Other reports have some does checking scrapes and big bucks showing up on cameras in areas they hadn’t been seen in before, a sure sign of bucks cruising for hot does.
X Factor:** I hate to sound like a broken record, but this unseasonably long, hot Indian summer has really made things difficult for deer hunters this season. Afternoon fronts have pushed through the region the past few evenings and cooler weather, along with some moisture is forecast for the end of the week. With rifle season opening in Nebraska, this may be the last, best time for bowhunters in that state to hang a tag.