Whether you celebrate modern technology or cuss it, the Internet has changed the way we celebrate deer season. Used to be, hunters would stand around the back of a pick-up truck telling stories and showing off their hard-earned trophies. Today, all it takes is a Facebook feed to share your success with everyone. That’s how I found out about a couple of nice bucks that fell during last weekend’s archery opener here in Nebraska. I’m still waiting to hear the stories behind them, and will pass them along when I do.
Until then, all I can recount are the stories of disappearing deer that my contacts have been lamenting about for the past week. Many of the bucks that were showing up on trail cameras just a few weeks ago have gone missing. Some folks are speculating EHD, but I’m hoping those bucks have just adjusted their patterns and will show back up soon. While deer are often easy to pattern early in the season, hunters tend to forget that shedding velvet signifies a spike in a buck’s testosterone level, greatly changing his behavior, patterns and general outlook on life.
Across the Great Plains, reports of hard-horned bucks showing up on camera have been on the increase almost daily.
Here are three:
• Eastern Kansas: “Trail cam pics we have been getting show bucks dropping velvet starting two weeks ago,” said Andy Jeffries of Twin Chimneys Outfitters. “Ninety percent of them are slicked off to bone.”
• South-central Nebraska: “Everything we have seen and on camera are hard horned,” said Justin Smith, who hunts near the Republican River. “Comparing the past four years’ worth of photos, our bucks started rubbing their velvet off about 10 days to two weeks earlier than normal.”
• Central South Dakota: “My trail cameras are telling me about 70 percent of my deer are out of velvet as of September 10,” said Spencer Neubarth, who, as you might remember, used the Field & Stream Rut Report Best Day of the Rut to tag a beautiful East River buck last season.