Draper: Hunters Still Tagging Big Deer

Rut Reporter David Draper grew up hunting deer and small game throughout this region and presently lives on a family … Continued

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.

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As the 2011 rut slowly fades away in the rearview mirror, it’s easy to think major deer activity has come to an end as well. Combined with the colder weather and snow that has moved on to the Plains, this might keep some hunters out of the woods. Well, if you’re still holding a tag and feeling discouraged, don’t be. I’ve seen photos of two great bucks that have been killed within the last week–one 175″ giant tagged in Kansas and another great 10-point killed in Colorado right near the Nebraska border. I’ve also heard of a few other deer dropping, which goes to show you that post-rut can be a great time to tag a buck that’s shifted to feeding pattern to recover from the rut.

Perseverance pays, as proven by this report I received from Kansas bowhunter Nathan Oelhert. Nathan has been one of my sources of info for deer activity in the Sunflower State this year, always checking in, with up to date reports of what’s going on in his neck of the woods. I always wondered how Oehlert kept his finger on the pulse of the rut, and now I know. He recently told me he spent 46 straight days on stand, either hunting or filming for friends. Well, after an incredible seven weeks of hunting, Oehlert finally got his reward in the form of the buck he nicknamed Super 8. Here’s his story.

“On November 25th, Hunter Hastings and I decided to hunt a stand a couple hundred yards behind the house. I have pictures of several nice bucks down there, but not very many recently and none in the daylight hours. A 170” 10-pointer that we call the Ghost had recently just shown back up after he disappeared from the property four years ago. We also had pictures of a big 8-pointer that we ended up calling Super 8. Another hunter I know who hunts about a mile away on a different piece of property had told me he shot a big 8 pointer the week before and never found it. That week, we did not get any trail camera pictures of Super 8. I figured he was already dead.

“We had been hunting for a couple of hours before I saw a buck cruising about 100 yards away. Once he got in the clear, I immediately knew it was Super 8. I grunted at him three times before he finally took off at a run toward my tree. As I put my release on my string, he was entering my best shooting lane broadside at 20 yards. I drew my bow, lined up my pin and asked Hunter if he was on him. He whispered yes and as I put my finger on the trigger to release the arrow, the buck turned right toward us and walked to within 10 yards of the base of our tree. I held at full draw with him facing us for more than a minute and finally let down when he turned his head.

As he walked to the left, I stopped the buck perfectly at 15 yards, except a branch was angled down right over the heart and lungs. I was using a Rage broadhead and with the Mathews Z7 Extreme I felt comfortable trying to hit the back of the lungs and hope for liver as well. I released the arrow trying my best to keep it a few inches away from the branch. The hit was just a couple inches farther back than I had wanted, but I felt extremely confident that the Rage had hit the liver and possibly the back of one lung.

We climbed down and found the arrow totally passed through and covered in dark red blood. We went back to the house and watched the footage to make sure where the hit was. I would have normally waited until morning to look for him, but rain was on its way. We waited several hours, until the rain had just started, to go look for him. We found him about 125 yards from where I shot him, and less than 200 yards from our back yard. It had been a long year, but this was an awesome hunt for a deer that we thought was dead when we set out for the stand that day.”