Signs of a Secondary Rut

Overall Activity Status: Here on the Great Plains, both the fields and my inbox have been very quiet recently. It seems the reduced deer populations resulting from this fall's extreme EHD outbreak has also put a damper on the enthusiasm of the region's hunters. I've had several tell me they planned on purposely eating their doe tags due to the low numbers of deer in their respective areas. Still, there are a few guys who aren't afraid to get out there and give it one last shot this year. From what I've been hearing, those hardcore hunters can expect to see signs of a secondary rut this weekend, as does that didn't get bred last month cycle back into estrus.

Fighting: Although no one has reported witnessing any bucks fighting recently, a few have seen broken-tine bucks show back up on camera. These bucks will likely get a free pass this month and, should they survive the winter, be next year's trophies.

Scrape Activity: What scrapes that are still out there have pretty much gone dry. A hot doe might kickstart some activity, but the likelihood of a buck running a scrape line is pretty slim and not worth focusing on this late in the season.

Daytime movement: Earlier in the week, wind chills readings in much of the region were dipping below zero, and heavy snow in the eastern half of the Plains put deer on their feet much later in the day as the spent their time in the fields. The high winds also had deer nervous, which gets them moving at odd times throughout the day as they relocate to a better sheltered area.

Estrous signs: In south-central Nebraska, hunter Justin Smith spent last weekend on stand hoping to fill tag. While he didn't quite get it all put together, he did get to witness some rare December rut action. Her reported seeing several good bucks locked down with does and said several other smaller bucks were chasing.

Just across the border in extreme northeastern Colorado, Ryan Wieser saw the same thing. "The secondary rut seems to be in full swing down on the [South Platte] river," said Wieser. "Definitely some hot does and chasing going on."