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.
Overall Activity Status: Most hunters are reporting a later than normal rut this year, which means there is still opportunity for those who hold a tag to tie it to a big buck. Though activity does seem to have slowed, there are still bucks on the move looking to breed, as well as some late estrous does to the lead them around.
Fighting: By now, you would think bucks would be tired of fighting, instead saving the last of their energy for breeding. But as Nebraska bowhunter Kurt Kaiser found out last week, rattling can still bring big bucks running: “I killed this deer with my bow on Wednesday night,” said Kaiser, shown here with his trophy. “I first saw him dogging a doe pretty hard, then later rattled him in. Make no mistake, the rut is still very warm.”
Rub/Scrape making: No fresh sign reported, though cruising bucks are still being caught on game cameras checking scrapes in the early morning and late evening hours.
Chasing/Daytime Movement: Other than Kaiser’s report of his buck dogging a doe, most chasing seems to have tapered off. Clete Frazell checked in from Kansas, saying “Big buck sightings are starting to diminish. Some early morning/late evening activity, but not much at mid-day. I do think there are still a couple bucks cruising. My brother saw a giant this morning cruising around 8:30 by himself, down a levee on the edge of a creek and bean field.”
Estrous signs: Frazell also noted that does are exhibiting some post-rut behavior in southeast Kansas. “Does are starting to bunch back up and feed in big groups as they were spread out the last few weeks,” said Frazell.
X Factor: While hunters may see some localized rut behavior when a late-cycling doe goes into estrus, every day we get closer to a post-rut pattern. “The rut here is definitely on the late end,” said Kansas hunter Nathan Oehlert. “I wouldn’t say full-out post rut yet, but not far from it. I am still seeing several bucks following does but nothing hard.” Oehlert did manage to kill a great deer late last week and promises to share a photo and picture with Rut Report readers soon.