What Should I Know about Deer Scrapes?

Georgia Landsource answers your question “What should I know about deer scrapes? “It is easy to think whitetail deer live in a mysterious world. At first glance, they seem to go from one place to another without rhyme or reason. However, a closer look reveals they are very social animals, exhibiting a variety of methods for communicating beyond sound and visual displays. It seems that all deer participate in scraping on some level, even young bucks during the rut. The torn-up rut patches of the earth have both fascinated and mystified humans for years. Not only during peak breeding season but throughout the year.

Using active scrapes is a good indicator that deer are utilizing an area and hanging out in it. When you learn how deer communicate with each other, you will have a better chance of ambushing a big buck. The purpose of this article is to discuss scraping activity, what the deer are trying to tell us with their signs in the woods, as well as the best ways to plan your hunting around scrapes and scrape lines this fall.


What Should I Know about Deer Scrapes?

The act of pawing up the earth creates a visual cue that helps other deer find the scrape, according to researchers. Although there are different types of whitetail scrapes, it’s helpful to think of them as a kind of bulletin board for the community. Some deer, especially big bucks, urinate on the tarsal glands between their back legs when they use a scrape to leave their scent behind. Such behavior strengthens the fragrance and makes bucks stand out.

Deer can also leave their scent behind on overhanging branches, sometimes called licking branches above scrapes. When rubbing their faces or antlers against the branches, they release scent from their preorbital glands. If you read up on the various studies that investigate this method, you will find evidence that does seldom urinate in scrapes to signal their availability to nearby bucks. While I have observed this behavior myself countless times over the years, I have no idea what it means to the deer.

Most hunters consider primary scrapes to be those built during the peak of the rut by bucks. On the other hand, community scrapes are simply those built by the entire herd (including yearlings and fawns) and are frequented by all deer. In Georgia, at least, I have observed more does than bucks at most community scrapes I have placed trail cameras on. What deer are communicating through these scrapes is transmission or communication between the does.

How Often Do Bucks Visit Scrapes?

It has been found that whitetail bucks will eventually return to scrapes they previously visited. The frequency of these visits will vary from buck to buck. Some bucks might visit daily, whereas others might visit once a week. Each buck is going to have a unique pattern of visits. Apparently, 85 to 90% of scraping activity happens after dark, as reported by the Deer Association. I have noticed the same thing here in Georgia. I usually see dogs and young bucks scraping during daylight hours.

Should You Hunt Over Scrapes?

It is generally agreed that scrapes have a better chance of success when compared with rubs since rubs are often made with little attention to detail by bucks who do not intend to return. Rubs, on the other hand, are different. They are still important to deer communication, especially in the pre-rut. However, they don’t guarantee a return trip like scrapes.

When hunting scrapes, the tricky part is finding one that’s being used by deer during daylight hours. The trick is to analyze the footage from your trail camera to figure out when the bucks are visiting. Sometimes patterns will emerge as you monitor the video.

As a bowhunter, your biggest problem when hunting established scrapes is they are often located in poor positions for a stand or blind. These are where mock scrapes come in. They allow you to set up deer activity patterns in food plots or funnels within bowhunting distance. Hunting with mock scrapes can also be effective at modifying the behavior of the deer. Scent drippers are essential to the mock scrape and are designed to only be used during daylight hours. In this manner, the buck becomes conditioned to come by during the day to run off the rival that he’s been smelling in the scrape.