The Truth About Deer Scrapes

mock scrape - whitetail buck working scrape
Scrapes are made by a buck scraping away leaves or ground vegetation with his front feet, exposing bare ground. The scrape is usually positioned 4-5 feet below an overhanging branch. Don’t mistake pawing for a scrape, pawing is what bucks do to take out aggression and won’t have the limb overhanging. As he go through these steps, he also urinates down his hocks onto his tarsal glands and into the scrape. Many does and other bucks may leave their scent at the same scrape, leaving the buck to decipher the deer moving through his territory.

Scrapes are typically made by whitetail bucks, in the fall to mark breeding territories. Fall’s decreasing sunlight triggers the amount of testosterone in a buck’s body. This causes the buck to become more territorial, thus begins the scrape activity or the pawing of the ground. This is what we observe when we are in the hunting season.

For years hunters and researchers observed that the most frequent marking behavior by all ages of bucks is overhead branch marking. Bucks rub overhanging branches with their antlers, forehead and saliva. Pawing the ground and urination occurs in less than half of the visits that include some type of marking behavior. Additionally, year round most scent marking at scrapes consisted of branch marking and/or urination but not pawing. Therefore, scrapes are being visited by bucks before physical evidence of pawing is observed.

Scrapes in high traffic areas with multiple deer trails, may be used by multiple bucks. This is a good spot to hunt or to make another mock scrape, indicating that a new buck has claim on the territory. This creates competition and increases the frequency the scrape is visited.

The best spots to set up scrapes are in a funnel between a buck’s bedding area and doe bedding areas or feeding zones. Does will also urinate in scrapes to let bucks know what stage of the breeding process she is in.

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