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.

November came in like a roaring lion–at least along the western edge of the Great Plains–where a post-Halloween storm brought cold winds and wet snow to the area.

But like I’ve said several times this season, it’s all about where you are in the region, as other parts of the Great Plains are still suffering from dry conditions. Kansas hunter Bryan Rommel checked in from a treestand in south-east Kansas where he says conditions are as dry as he’s ever seen.

A similar cold front that passed through in the middle of last week seems to have given the progression of the rut a boost. Hunters from across the Great Plains are checking in with reports of bucks–mostly small ones–pushing does fairly hard. Here and there bigger bucks have been spotted nosing around some does, but nothing really serious on that front yet.

Scott “Scooter” Holly reported seeing a single doe that had three bucks bothering her in eastern Nebraska last Saturday. The same day, on the same property, David Cabela caught this buck cruising just before dark and managed to get an arrow in him from the ground. David reports seeing plenty of evidence of the rut revving up, though things are nowhere near the peak.

As the rut heats up, bucks are making their presence known. It’s a great time to go to an aggressive strategy, such as using a buck decoy. Nathan Oehlert did just that last weekend and had two nice bucks come in thrashing trees, making scrapes and snort-wheezing multiple times, all well within bow range. “It got the blood pumping, for sure,” said Oehlert.