Hunting whitetail deer using scrapes is a technique that can be effective during the pre-rut and rut phases of the deer hunting season. Scrapes are areas on the ground that deer create by pawing at the earth with their hooves and often urinating on the spot. Both bucks and does will make scrapes, but they are predominantly made by bucks. Early in the rutting season bucks will make boundary scrapes around the perimeter or on a partial edge of their territory. Boundary scrapes are usually small and quickly made. They’re used for communication and marking territory during the breeding season. Here are some steps to consider when hunting whitetail deer using scrapes:
Scouting: Before the hunting season begins, scout the area to locate active scrapes. Look for signs like fresh tracks, pawed-up soil, and overhanging licking branches. Trail cameras can be very helpful in identifying which scrapes are being used by bucks.
Timing: The pre-rut and rut phases are the best times to focus on hunting near scrapes. Bucks will be more active and visible as they search for does during this period.
Stand Placement: Identify scrape locations where you can set up your hunting stand or blind. Look for areas with good visibility and prevailing wind patterns that will keep your scent away from the deer’s likely approach.
Scent Control: Scent control is crucial when hunting near scrapes. Use scent-reducing clothing, scent-eliminating sprays, and take measures to minimize your human scent as much as possible.
Decoys and Calls: During the rut, using deer decoys and calls can be effective in attracting bucks. Doe estrus scent can also be used to simulate the presence of a receptive doe in estrus.
Luring Tactics: Use scent attractants specifically designed for scrapes. These products mimic the scent of a buck and doe interaction around a scrape. Apply them to the licking branch and the ground around the scrape to enhance its appeal.
Patience: Hunting near scrapes requires patience. Bucks might not show up immediately, so be prepared to spend extended periods in your hunting location. The rut can make deer activity unpredictable, but your chances of encountering a buck around a scrape increase during this time.
Observation: While in your stand or blind, carefully observe the area around the scrape. Look for movement and listen for sounds that indicate deer activity. Be vigilant and ready to react quickly when a buck arrives.
Remember that deer behavior can be influenced by various factors, and success is not guaranteed. Being knowledgeable about deer behavior, using proper hunting tactics, and adapting to changing conditions are key to successful whitetail deer hunting using scrapes.