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.



In reaching out to hunters for information for the Rut Report, I’ve had several people comment that this year’s rut is “weird.” Now, just what that word means to each individual hunter is up for speculation, but in my opinion, the “weird” rut is more a product of anticipation than actuality. As hunters, we try to pick the best day of the rut, but in our minds the rut means we should be seeing deer activity that I classified last week as “full-blown mayhem.”

What we tend to forget in all this is that the deer pick “the best day” of the rut. Not us. And, depending on where you’re hunting, the deer may or may not be active. There are so many factors into what deer are doing over these few weeks and why, that I suspect we don’t know the half of it. But, that shouldn’t stop us from going hunting. “Weird” rut or not, the deer are still out there and, if we’re lucky, we might just get the chance to encounter one.

That’s what happened this past Saturday to young Colton Guernsey, who managed to tag a bruiser of a first buck in south-central Nebraska. Justin Smith, a friend of Colton’s dad Steve, passed along the photo and said Colton was in the right place at the right time as this near 160-inch whitetail was edging along a river bank. Smith also said rut activity where they were hunting was slow, with just some glimpses of small and medium bucks. Which goes to show, you can still kill big deer, even when things are “weird.”