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The Dominant Buck Deer Theory with Dr. Larry Marchinton

Day 5: Using Scrapes to Identify Places Where a Dominant Buck Deer Is with Dr. Larry Marchinton

Editor’s Note: Scientific research has learned some facts about big white-tailed bucks that can make your hunting this year your best ever.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewOne added ingredient to make a funnel area the very best it can possibly be for taking the dominant buck during the peak of the rut is the presence of scrapes. Scrapes are places where a buck will paw-up the ground and urinate to leave his scent, usually along trails, woods roads or at the edges of fields. Scrapes most often will have an overhanging branch over the site where the buck can leave the scent from his eyes, nose, and mouth and sometimes from his forehead gland. Often there will be rubs close to the scrapes where the buck has left the scent from his forehead. All of these signs are to let a doe know the buck is in this area and to tell her that if she will wait there for him, he will soon be by to mate with her.

“If I find scrapes in the funnel area where I usually hunt, then I like to hunt close to the scrapes,” Dr. Larry Marchinton, longtime avid deer hunter, says. “I feel much-more confident about my hunting region if there are some scrapes present there. I don’t necessarily hunt over just one scrape for several reasons. First of all, bucks make many scrapes to which they never return. Secondly, bucks may make scrapes and only check them every 3 or 4 days. Often a dominant buck only may work his scrapes at night, if the hunting pressure is high. However, if I find what I call a hot scrape – one that smells of fresh urine for more than a day – I may hunt close to that particular scrape. But you can waste plenty of time hunting over one scrape. I believe that the very-best place to find the dominant buck is in a funnel area between two scraping regions. By hunting the funnel between the two scraping areas, you are more likely to see the buck as he goes to check one or the other areas than you are if you take a stand close to one particular scrape.”

Realizing that the buck is the most vulnerable during the rut when he has breeding on his mind, a hunter may conclude that if the outdoorsman locates a region where does congregate that this is a likely place to see the dominant buck. But Marchinton disagrees. “A hunter can waste lots of time hunting those kinds of places. Biologists have found that there seem to be regions where only does like to frequent and other spots where the chances of seeing a buck are much greater. There is some evidence to indicate that when a doe comes into estrus, she goes in search of the buck – much like the hen turkey looks for a gobbler when she is ready to be bred. However, I believe that both animals are searching for each other during the breeding season. You must remember that the buck is not merely looking for does but is searching for does ready to breed. So just seeing a group of does doesn’t necessarily mean you may spot a buck, because none of those does may be ready to be bred.”

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewRattling for bucks, a tactic where the hunter clashes two antlers together to simulate a fight between two bucks is another technique some woodsmen employ to draw in a buck. However Marchinton cautions that this method only may work to draw-in a dominant buck during the rut, if the buck does not have does with him.

“A few years ago, my study team and I had a radio collar on a dominant buck,” Marchinton remembers. “We had a student try rattling to lure the buck to within gun range. We were watching the deer, which had two does with him. When the dominant buck heard the antlers clashing, he backed out of the area and led the does away. Although I can’t prove this theory to be a fact, I believe that the reason the buck left the region was because he didn’t want to lose the two does he had with him, just to get into a fight to prove his dominance. Rattling is like any other tactic to lure deer. It will work for some bucks some of the time, but it won’t draw-in all of the bucks all of the time.

“From my research and my hunting, I still believe that if you are going to take the dominant buck, hunt him during the peak of the rut in a funnel area between two scraping regions between 9:00 am and 10:00 am the morning after a cold front passes through, and the temperature is cooler than normal. This has been the most-successful tactic for me, and the one I believe in the strongest.”

For more deer-hunting tips, get John E. Phillips’ Kindle eBooks “How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro,”
How to Hunt Deer Up Close: With Bows, Rifles, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows,” and “PhD Whitetails: How to Hunt and Take the Smartest Deer on Any Property,” or to prepare venison, get “ Deer & Fixings.” Click here on each, or go to, type in the name of the book, and download it to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.


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About the Author

John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.

Check back each day this week for more about The Dominant Buck Deer Theory with Dr. Larry Marchinton"

Day 1: Learning about the Dominant Buck Deer with Dr. Larry Marchinton
Day 2: Finding the Dominant Buck Deer’s Achilles Heel with Dr. Larry Marchinton
Day 3: Choosing the Best Days to Hunt the Dominant Buck Deer with Dr. Larry Marchinton
Day 4: Knowing the Best Time of Day for Taking Trophy Buck Deer with Dr. Larry Marchinton
Day 5: Using Scrapes to Identify Places Where a Dominant Buck Deer Is with Dr. Larry Marchinton

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Entry 748, Day 5