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.
While I’ve been suffering through cold, wet and windy conditions on a hunt in Illinois, hunters on the Great Plains are enjoying a more stable weather pattern, with temperatures in the 40s and 50s through much of the region. High winds last weekend made hunting tough, but didn’t seem to affect deer movement as much as conventional wisdom would dictate.
On my long drive across Nebraska Saturday, I counted more than 20 instances of road-killed deer, and a significant majority of those were does, or appeared to be as I passed by at 80 mph. I also saw several does on their feet in the middle of the day. South Dakota hunter John Lubeck didn’t let the 30 mph winds Saturday deter him from going out, and although he didn’t get to fling an arrow, he saw deer moving all afternoon.
“Sat for an hour and a half Saturday and caught a glimpse of a buck walking away from me up the ridge on the opposite side of where I was. Grunted, rattled, but he did not seem to care. Another hour went by–here came two does. I was getting a little excited when a buck appeared behind them with his head down on a mission. Did not get a good look at his rack, but a very decent sized body. Little disappointed I didn’t get a shot, but was glad to see some action.”
Cabela’s Outdoor Adventures consultant Jason Berger spent some time back home in North Dakota and reported bucks are starting to chase does up there and showing some rut activity, though he says the deer population is suffering there. “I would say overall numbers are down about 50%,” said Berger, “I did have one friend harvest a 164 P&Y buck, however.”
One of Berger’s outfitters in Nebraska and Kansas, Mark Beam of Beamers Guide Service, passed along the following e-mail:
“It’s game on. We’re in full blown rut in Southern Nebraska. The big bucks are being sighted mid-day and traveling. The one in the pic was following a doe when I got the shot. The northern Kansas rut appears to be a little behind, even though there’s only a few miles’ difference in latitude.”