A blog dedicated to the Missouri Whitetail Hunter

The Truth About Scrapes & The Missing Ingredient

This is kind of a spin off of my post the other day about scents. But today I’m going to go into the detail about the scrape and how the whitetail deer actually uses it as a communication tool.

The scrape is a puzzling thing in the world of whitetails. A bare spot of ground that is almost like the community bathroom. But in a deers eyes it’s the complete opposite of a bathroom. The scrape in the deer world is the night club/bar of their social life. It’s where bucks hangout, set up pecking orders, and hand out their business cards. It is the top place for whitetail communication. You see deer actually use scrapes year round, it’s just that in the fall and during the rut is when they heavily use them. But I’ve seen pictures of deer scent checking old scrapes in March before, it’s just not as frequently used or seen.

Deer interpret their world and their social life through their nose. You see does have a summer schedule that’s different from a bucks. The main reason bucks join together in the summer and for bachelor groups is to familiarize themselves with the competition. They are studying their opponents from how they look to how they smell. They have an instinctive need to find out who is dominant and who is subordinate.

You see there is an aspect of the scrape that is heavily overlooked by hunters, one of the most important aspects. I’ve seen hunters hunt over natural scrapes and I’ve seen hunters hunt over man made. Both with some success, but it’s the ones that pay attention to the minor details of the man made scrapes that have almost 100% chance of success while in the field. You see a man made scrape will bring a buck in… but just one time. Let’s say you clear the ground and make the scrape flawlessly and you put just the right doe urine on the ground, along with a dominant buck urine. Now you sit over that scrape and hunt it. Now a buck might or might not come in, either way a buck is probably going to come in to the scrape just once. To investigate the scent of urine that he’s smelling. But the main reason a mature buck will only come to that scrape once is that key ingredient I was talking about earlier.

If you’ve ever watched a buck work a scrape. He paws the ground, might pee a little, and he rubs his antlers and forehead on an over hanging limb. There isn’t a whitetail scrape on this planet that doesn’t have some kind of over hanging licking branch. That branch is a where a buck deposits his preorbital gland scent. this comes from a gland that’s directly in front of the deers eye. An aspect of a mock scrape that will make or break it is that preorbital gland. When used on a licking branch, it can be extremely deadly for a mature whitetail. You see this is going to make a mature buck believe your scrape is real, and he’s gonna want to know who made it. He’s going to hang around in that area, checking that scrape and making others. He wants to meet this new comer, to decide where he fits in the pecking order. The use of preorbital gland lure on a mock scrape can turn that scrape into a community scrape, and a productive tool for a hunter in mere days.

I hope this helps you and you can find it useful next time you plan to create a mock scrape to hunt over.

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