Will Brantley called it, and Scott Bestul confirmed it: This year’s rut sucks for much of the country. Though we’ve finally got a hardcore winter push on the Plains, warm weather earlier in the week kept the rut suppressed under the cover of darkness. According to Daniel McVay from Buckventures’ The Woodsman T.V. show, a little bit of cooler weather late last week kicked a few does into estrous where he’s hunting close to the Kansas border in northwest Oklahoma. But that just caused the bigger bucks to go into lockdown. In an e-mail, he also confirmed something I’d be seeing here in Nebraska: a majority of the does were still carrying fawns. Last week, they killed five does and four of them were still lactating. If that’s not a sign of a screwed up rut, I don’t know what it.

So, what’s an enterprising deer hunter on the Great Plains do when the whitetail rut is sporadic? Switch species, and go after mule deer. Saturday night, McVay killed a stud muley buck that had his nose buried up a doe’s tail. He thinks the rut should blow up this week, especially on the tail of the cold front that passed through. He’ll be in the stand, and I will too. I suggest you follow our lead and get in on the action as locked down bucks get back in the game and more does heat up.