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.



I finally got to spend a few hours on-stand late last week, and while I didn’t see much deer movement, my hunting partner a few hundred yards away did have a good buck come work a scrape we had mocked up a week or so before. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to connect with the deer, but it at least gives us a heads up as to what’s going on the woods.

Like my experience Friday, reports from across the region are mixed, with some hunters seeing lots of deer, while other areas are quiet. In South Dakota, John Lubeck checked in after hunting the East River over the weekend, where his saw little activity, despite sitting over some active sign. In other places, buck activity has increased, with many hunters reporting deer on their feet during daylight hours, as well as an increase in scrapes and rubs.

One such successful hunter is John Snyder of Colorado Spring, CO. Snyder was visiting family in western Nebraska and managed to tag this nice Cornhusker buck on Saturday over an active scrape line. Before he met his untimely end, the big buck made his way down the scrape line, and worked over a few trees. Congratulations to John on a great deer.

It just goes to show, hunting the pre-rut can be a hit-or-miss proposition, but the deer are out there and activity is just going to get better. If you’re not seeing any sign, you might think about speed scouting for new locations as bucks are really going to start to lay down scrapes and rubs. And don’t be afraid to break out the rattling antlers as sparring is sure to get heavy in the coming weeks.