A stinky scrape the size of a tractor tire is the most bewitching buck mark you’ll find in the woods in a few weeks. It is also the most misunderstood. Let’s shovel over five myths about scrapes – and dish some fresh dirt that will help you hunt better.
Myth: A huge scrape was made by huge buck.
I used to believe it, and I wrote it a few times years ago. Oh well, hunt and learn. A monster 10-pointer might have ripped a scrape 3 feet wide. Or a gang of rut-wild bucks (some old and big, some young and small) pawed and pawed, until a so-so scrape blew up into a huge bowl. Recent studies show that as many as 10 to 15 different bucks will paw one scrape.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t watch a huge scrape. You should, especially a hot, dank one in remote thick cover. I’m just saying you can’t tell what size buck, or bucks, made it.
Myth: An old buck scrapes and rub-urinates in it to attract does for breeding.
This is what the old-timers thought, and they were partially right. Researchers now believe that mature bucks scrape for three reasons: to challenge other old bucks, to exude dominance over young males, and to send calling cards to does. So there’s a lot going on. With all the tarsal and estrus scent that permeates the air (does pee into scrapes too) it only makes sense that lots of deer mix, mingle and hook up near the scent-posts.
Myth: Hunt a buck on his scrape line between a feeding and bedding area.
I cannot honestly say I have ever shot a buck on a scrape line. I might have, I just don’t know. I’m not even sure scrape lines exist. The more I hunt whitetails across the land, the more scraping appears to be a random act of buck aggression and the venting of his sexual frustration just before the peak of the rut.
I don’t bother trying to find a scrape line anymore. From Halloween through November 10, I look for a piece of ridge or creek bottom that is pocked with 10 or more day-old scrapes. The more rubs and doe trails in the area the better. I hunt there a few days and I usually see bucks passing through. If I don’t spot a shooter, I move to a new set of scrapes 150 to 200 yards away. I feel my odds are better this way, rather than trying to hunt a phantom buck on a line of scrapes that may or may not exist.
Myth: You might shoot a decent buck at a scrape, but hardly ever a 4- to 6-year-old giant; they’re nocturnal around scrapes and check them from 100 yards or so downwind.
Some truth in that statement. In a University of Georgia trail-cam study, 85 percent of the bucks photographed at scrapes came in at night. Few of them were older than 3½. These were wild, hunted bucks, and the researchers concluded that the fully mature animals were not only nocturnal, but they also checked the scrapes from downwind and out of cam range.
So you shouldn’t even try to hunt a big deer near a scrape in daylight anymore, right? Wrong. One day a few years ago in Saskatchewan, one of the largest bucks I have ever seen strolled out to the edge of a clearing at 1:30 p.m. and for 2 minutes ripped scrapes and raked his mighty antlers on overhead branches. He was 300 yards away in brush, moving, and I never could get a clean hold on his vitals. He left and I cried. Had I capitalized on that brief encounter and killed that sway-backed, 190-inch titan I’d have shot down a scrape myth in the biggest way I know.
For more deer hunting advice, go to www.mikehanback.com.