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.



Over the past several days, weather patterns across the Great Plains have been starting to destabilize. High winds, rain and cooler temperatures are the norm – a welcome change from the warm, dry spell we encountered at the end of September. Lower nighttime temperatures– down in the 30s in some areas– seemed to have also kicked off a bit of pre-rut activity.

Kansas hunter Clete Frazell spent an evening last weekend out scouting and reported seeing lots of deer moving about. A majority of them were does, which is what I’ve been hearing from several hunters this week, as bucks have gone nocturnal with the full moon. He did see a few small bucks and reported most of the deer seemed to be leaving the yellowing bean fields and moving into cut cornfields to feed, so hunters should turn their attention to high-protein food sources as well.

Corn is the name of the game in Nebraska too, although it’s the uncut fields that seem to be holding most of the deer, according to Panhandle hunter Kurt Kaiser. He spent three evenings last weekend in a treestand, hoping the cool weather would have deer moving. He reports seeing little activity, though Saturday night, he saw five mature bucks running together and later heard them doing some light sparring. The next night, Kaiser watched good buck work rubs on two different trees, indicating bucks are starting to feel their oats a bit.

Matt Highby, product manager for Cabela’s optics division, also checked in with a weekend report from western Nebraska. He said bucks were pushing each other around a little bit; nothing really aggressive yet, just light sparring. He also came across some freshly worked scrapes. If bucks that had been showing up regularly on food plots have disappeared, Highby suggests moving your game cameras deeper into the woods.

“When my food plot cameras go cold, I put them on active scrapes to get a good look at all the deer in the area,” said Highby. “I have had as many as 13 different bucks hit a scrape in a single night this time of year.”