Scrape Week – Part One: Prep for it now

Scott Bestul |

M2E98L201-201R372B370Scrapes have gotten a lot of bad press over the years. I know just why, because I’ve cussed them myself. Our collective frustration with scrapes is perfectly understandable; we find a torn-up patch of dirt, with an overhanging limb pointing down to the scrapes, like a beacon claiming “find buried treasure here!” And our immediate assumption is that a stand set up nearby will result in a slam-dunk encounter with a monster.

Obviously, it rarely works out like that. Research (both the scientific, university-level studies, and the informal stuff I do on my own) has shown that most scrape visits by whitetail bucks occur at night. Also, bucks almost completely abandon M2E98L201-201R372B370scrapes when the first does enter estrous. So, many hunters have sat watching a hogged-up scrape line, anticipation building by the minute…and then had those hopes busted like a birthday party piñata.

Well to borrow a phrase from my teenage kids…We’re doing it wrong. Yes, the vast majority of scrape visits do occur at night. But “vast majority” does not mean “all.” There are two specific periods when daylight scrape visits by bucks skyrockets, and we’re creeping up on the first of those as we speak. Here’s how to capitalize on “scrape week.”

M2E13L71-71R392B305*Find the first ones: Most hunters fail while hunting over scrapes because they simply find them too late. Bucks scrape throughout the fall, but that activity steadily increases until the first does come into heat. So, if you wait to find areas bombed up with scraping, the window for hunting them is, if not already closed, shutting quickly. Scout until you find the first tentative scrapes; they may not be big in size or number, but they’re telling you a huge story. This is where bucks are hanging out and often where they’ve had success finding does (either recently or in years past). Good places to look include logging roads, staging areas off of food sources, and terrain funnels (hint: if you know a place that bucks have liked toM2E12L69-69R395B305 scrape in years past, it’s a great place to start).

*Sweeten the Deal: The first thing that I do when I find scrapes is to make two or three mock scrapes of my own in a rough semicircle around the original. I never neglect an overhanging branch, and I always make sure my fakes are highly visible. I want to create the illusion that another buck (or bucks) are laying down their own sign in response to the original.

* Hang a camera: The trail camera is the modern deer hunter’s finest tool in predicting scrape week. Hang one overlooking your circle of scrapes, make sure it’s on (don’t laugh, I’ve failed this simple step) and back off. Do this with as many scrapes you can find, and cameras you own….And next week we’ll discuss how to identify and capitalize on scrape week !

*Set the clock

*Wait for it

*Hunt the rebound