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.

Oct. 21: Deer on the Great Plains have turned up their pre-rut activity, opening up scrapes, creating rub lines and even sparring a bit, particularly among the younger bucks. Until very recently, all this great rut activity on the Great Plains had been taking place under the cover of darkness. Of the trail cam pics I’ve been seeing, nearly all had been taken at night. However, Kurtis Kaiser, who has 10 game cameras scattered around western Nebraska and northeastern Colorado, says patterns seem to be shifting.


“As of the last 3 days, bucks seem to be coming out of a strong nocturnal pattern they were in,” said Kaiser. “Earlier this week, I saw a couple of mature deer during daylight hours.”

I received this trail cam pic of what looks to be an 11-pointer working a scrape near Fairview, S.D. about 7:00 a.m., so morning activity seems to be better than evening. John Lubeck, of Sioux Falls, also said a few hunters up his way have had some success calling bucks in with very light rattling. With smaller bucks sparring, running and generally acting like teenagers at a junior-high dance, larger bucks should start showing their dominance as they start exploring new territory. It’s a great time to exploit this with some rattling.

Good luck this weekend and keep those rut reports coming in.