John's Journal...

Hunting the Rut When Sly Bucks Lose Their Cool

Hunting the Various Types Scrapes at the End of the Season and Using Summit Stands

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: During the rut when the bucks are chasing the does to breed and perpetuate the species, the hunter who knows what the animals do and how their mating affects their lifestyle can take deer more consistently during the rut than at any other time of the year.

There is a difference between a scrape and a rub. A rub is where a buck rubs his antlers against a tree often to wear the velvet off them and sometimes just to mark his territory. All that a rub tells a hunter is that there is a buck in the area somewhere. But there is no reason to believe that thaClick to enlarget buck will come back by that same tree to rub his antlers again. A scrape is a rendezvous point where a buck intends to meet his does when they are ready to be bred. Most of the time a scrape will be comprised of a pawed-up place on the ground that can be as small as 16 inches in diameter or as large as two tabletops pushed together. Usually there is an overhanging branch where the deer can leave the scent from his eyes, nose and mouth. And, there will be several small trees with the bark scraped off them. There is speculation that there are three different types of scrapes. The first kind of scrape is a boundary scrape, which are scrapes that are made by the bucks to mark off his boundary or territory. A boundary scrape usually is found on logging roads, at the edges of fields or along firebreaks.

Secondary scrapes are generally located on the edges of thickets inside the boundary scrapes. Also there are primary scrapes that are areas that the bucks frequent most often and sometimes where the actual mating takes place. Of course bucks and does don’t only breed at scrapes. I have observed deer breeding in the middles of fields, on the edges of creeks and in the middles of hardwood bottoms far from any scrapes. However, I do know that a buck will walk scrape lines, leave the scent from his eyes, nose and mouth at the scrape and urinate in the dirt below the scrape. To determine if a buck is utilizing a scrape or not, smell the earth that has been pawed-up by the deer under the bush. If it has a strong urine smell, then the hunter can be sure that the buck is checking his scrapes regularly to see if a doe has come by and has left his scent to let her know that he’ll be returning shortly. Once you know this information, you may think that all that’s required to take a buck deer is to pinpoint a scrape and wait on the buck to show-up. And sometimes three days of waiting near a scrape may be all that is necessary to take a deer. However, if there’s much hunting pressure, or if the buck has been spooked, many times he’ll become nocturnal and only visit the scrape at night.Click to enlarge

Another very-important factor to successful scrape hunting is the positioning of the hunter’s stand in relationship to the scrape. Just because the buck is in his rutting posture doesn’t mean that he has totally lost all of his instincts. If the deer looks-up and sees the hunter as the deer approaches his scrape, or if the deer winds the hunter, the animal will not come in to the scrape. Most of the time, the buck will approach his scrape from 20- to 30-yards downwind of the scrape. According to Bob Sheppard, an avid, longtime deer hunter, the buck tests the wind in this way to see Click to enlargeif there’s a doe close to his scrape. “When I’m hunting scrapes, I always take a stand about 50-yards downwind away from the scrape. In many instances, the buck will come in to check the wind below his scrape and will present a good shot at 20 yards or less.”

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Tomorrow: Farmland Deer During the Rut and Reading the Signs and Wildlife Energy Drink

Check back each day this week for more about "Hunting the Rut When Sly Bucks Lose Their Cool"

Day 1: What Triggers the Rut, and How Konus Can Help Your Deer Hunting
Day 2: Rattling-In Bucks During the Rut and the Sportsman’s Condo
Day 3: Hunting the Various Types Scrapes at the End of the Season and Using Summit Stands
Day 4: Farmland Deer During the Rut and Reading the Signs and Wildlife Energy Drink
Day 5: Stalking the Does and CVA’s Apex Rifle


Entry 544, Day 3