If you hunt the Whitetailed Deer, you almost certainly know about their scrapes. For some, they are a mystery. For others, they are simply sign of deer activity. If you read them correctly, they are much more. Interestingly enough, Buck and Doe alike make scrapes. Does do make scrapes, but unlike Bucks, they don't tend them. A scrape made by a Doe is typically about 12 to 18 inches across. That doesn't mean they won't make a bigger scrape. Why Does make scrapes is not well understood, but the assumption is that they are expressing their social status, not unlike Bucks, or are simply communicating their presence. Bucks use scrapes to communicate, but they are doing so on many levels.
Whereas a Doe will make a scrape with her back legs, a Buck uses his front legs for the bulk of the work. But, he uses all of his legs, as well as his antlers. Bucks will make larger and more defined scrapes, removing everything from the ground, leaving a clear area, typically 2 to 4 feet across, devoid of pretty much everything. Bucks typically rub an adjacent tree, often to the point of snapping off the lower branches, or even the snapping the tree in half if it is small enough. Generally speaking, the bigger the initial scrape and the more violent the scrape and rub, the more dominate the Buck. Take a hint here. If you want to get a buck's interest, make a small scrape a few feet away from an established scrape and put some Doe in Estrus in it. If the established scrape gets bigger, or starts smelling of strong urine and musk, the Buck is signalling he wants to meet the doe. He has no idea it's you, or what you have in mind.
A buck will make several scrapes. The scrapes he revisits and keeps fresh are what I term Master Scrapes. Bucks will make random scrapes, perhaps to see if they get any interest from a Doe. Bucks often make scrapes along their travel trails. I call these scrapes Secondary Scrapes. Master scrapes are typically found at well defined locations, such as a bend in a trail, a trail ending at the opening to a field or at a crossing where two or more trails meet. Master scrapes typically have a low hanging set of branches that they lick and rub their preorbital glands on. Secondary scrapes can be found along the trails at just about any point, but they are often left unattended. Travel scrapes are often smaller and lack the overhead licking branches and rubs found at a Master Scrape.
If you have established deer trails in your area, you can increase your odds by doctoring the scrapes you find. You can increase your odds even if there are no scrapes made by the deer traveling through by making your own scrapes. Another trick is to move a scrape. If you find a good scrape in a location that is simply too far from a location you want to put your blind or stand, highjack it and locate it where you need it. This won't work if you are moving the scrape out of sight of the original location. If you can find a location for your blind or stand that is right for you, within sight of the orginal scrape, moving it will work.
To move or make a scrape, you need to be very careful not to leave a lot of scent behind. Use rubber boots and gloves. Wash your clothes with unscented detergent desisgned for the hunter. Use a scent elimination spray on your clothes, hands, hair and gear. Then, take a couple of gallon size plastic bags and dig up the dirt in the scrape that the Buck has made. Put the dirt in the bags and cover the scrape over with fresh dirt, leaves and branches. Now, select your new site. Location is key. If you can place the new scrape in a position where the a deer placing its nose in the scrape will have its head behind a tree, it will never see you draw your bow or raise your rifle when you go to shoot. Remember, the deer must be able to see the scrape from the old location. Put some buck scent on your boots and scrape the leaves, twigs and anything growing in the new site. Be violent. throw dirt several feet away using only your feet. Make the scrape the same size as the old scrape. Now, fill the scrape with the dirt from the old scrape and make it flat. Add some Doe in Estrus scent to the scrape, about an ounce, and put a scent pot, preferably one that you can close and open repeatedly so that you can preserve and replinish the doe scent.
Making your own scrape is the same, except you don't have the dirt from another scrape. Now you have sent out the invitation to a party, but you still have to set the table. The scrape alone will work, but you can make it better. You want to mimick the behavior of the deer, which requires a little more work. If you carry some rubber gloves, ziplock sandwich bags and arts and crafts popsicle sticks in you pack when you are scouting or hunting, you can collect Doe and Buck dropping. Wear the gloves and use the sticks to scrape the droppings in the bags. Add a little Doe in Estrus scent to the doe droppings and freeze the bags until you are ready to use them (this used to freak out my first wife :-) ). When you are making your own scrapes or doctoring the existing scrapes, sprinkle the Doe droppings in the scrape, and place the buck droppings at the outer edge of the scrape.
If you are making your own scrape, you need several different types of scent to start. I use regular Doe urine, Doe in Estrus urine and Buck urine. I pour about an ounce of buck urine in the center of the scrape. I sprinkle about an ounce of regular Doe urine and another ounce of Doe in Estrus urine in and around the scrape. Place the droppings, if you have them, as described above. You can add tarsal Gland scent or any of the curosity scnets if you like. Using a blended Doe scent will mimick multiple Does visiting the scrape. The use of Buck scents will make the Buck think he has a challenger in his territory. When he thinks he has a hot Doe and an intruder Buck in his territory, he will be girl crazy and spoiling for a fight. Remember highschool? Yep, it's sort of like that. The last thing on his mind will be getting caught by the Principle, or you. Good luck and get scraping.