Bucks start scraping in earnest a week or two before the first does come into season. This is the best time to hunt over a scrape line or a primary scrape. A scrape line is just that; a line of scrapes showing the buck’s travel route. You can find a flurry of scrapes where the buck’s trail intersects the does trail.
If you decide to hunt over a scrape line it’s important to look in the scrape to see which way the deer is moving. He will pull dirt from the direction he is moving and often leaves a tell tale hoof print indicating the direction of travel. Ask yourself, “Is the buck using this trail in the evening on his way to feed or is he using it in the morning on his way to bed?”
Primary scrapes, on the other hand, are used by several deer and are generally reopened season after season. They are often found on high ground, in funnels, and where one buck’s territory intersects that of another. Primary scrapes always have a licking branch above them and several rubbed trees in the vicinity. I’ve seen primary scrapes as small as 3 feet in diameter and as large as a sheet of plywood.
While I like to set up as close as possible to a scraped line, I prefer my set to be 75 to 200 yards downwind of a primary scrape. A big buck will more commonly travel downwind of a primary scrape and merely scent check it.
Just remember that its location that determines a primary scrape, not the buck that made it. We are looking for a scrape that is all torn up with a licking branch above it, a scrape that appears to have been visited by several bucks. It goes without saying that this is an excellent spot for a tree stand.
If you really want to put your buck into a tizzy, try making a mock scrape. Dig up the dirt from a scrape in a different location and place it in the scrape you’re hunting over. Be sure to use scent-free gear and a shovel. Dig down about six inches and transport the dirt in a clean plastic bag. Empty this dirt into your hunting scrape and your buck will perceive this as an intrusion by another buck. He’ll begin refreshing this scrape in earnest. This is most effective in the pre-rut, before the bucks are on the does.
Realizing why scrapes are made, and how deer use them to communicate with each other will help boost your hunting to a higher level.
Learn more about scrape hunting
Good Luck and Good Hunting,