Draper: Tale of a Trail Cam Monster

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.

Nov. 19: My friend Bryan from southeastern Kansas checked in this weekend with a report from his neck of the whitetail woods. Bryan spent all last week in a treestand and he agreed that between the early harvests and tough weather patterns, 2010 will go down as one crazy year.

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Last week, Bryan battled some of that weird weather, much of it in the form of high winds. For two days, the wind blew 25-35 mph with gusts to 40 in places. And while weather doesn’t really shut down the rut–a doe is going to go into estrus no matter what– high winds, more than any other weather pattern, put deer off their game. There’s less feeding, less cruising, less of everything when the wind really blows.

But, deer still have to breed, so Bryan battled the weather and managed to hang is archery tag on buck anyone would be proud of. However, as great as it is, this is a bittersweet trophy for Bryan, who decided to hunt this deer clear back in July when he first captured the big Kansas buck on a trail cam.

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As you can see in the July 26 photo (in which the buck is broadside), the buck had a big split G3 on the left side of his rack. After this picture was taken, he disappeared. With upwards of 35 trail cams on his property, Bryan has a handle on what deer are doing, but the buck went missing for more than two months. Then, on Oct. 7, the distinctive deer showed up on another trail cam sans the split antler. Bryan guesses he most likely snapped it off while rubbing one of the many hedges that line southeast Kansas.

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Fast forward another month to Veteran’s Day (which incidentally Bryan believes is the start of the rut in Kansas) and Bryan made good on his vow to hunt the buck that haunted him throughout the late summer. The buck scored 170 0/8, but as big as he is, Bryan can’t help but wonder what could have been. He estimates the buck could have scored 183 with the split G3.