What Is A Deer Scrape? Everything You Need To Know!

Matt Johnson
Matt JohnsonPublished: May 3, 2023
What Is A Deer Scrape? Everything You Need To Know!

As a hunter, you've probably heard about deer scrapes and how they can help you target mature bucks during the breeding season. But these scrapes aren't just random holes in the ground. In fact, they're a crucial communication tool that whitetail deer use to interact with one another.

So, what exactly are deer scrapes?

Essentially, they are small areas in the ground that are pawed out by whitetail bucks. But they're so much more than that. During the breeding season, bucks use scrapes to establish dominance and attract does. By identifying fresh scrapes and the associated branches, you can increase your chances of catching the buck you're after.

But before we dive into hunting strategies, let's talk about what deer scrapes are and how to create a mock scrape to attract deer to your hunting area. Understanding the intricacies of these communication tools is essential to your success as a hunter.

Example of a Fresh Deer Scrape

What is the significance of a deer scrape?

Deer scrape - you may have heard about it, especially if you're a hunter who spends a lot of time in the woods. But what exactly is a deer scrape? Well, it's an area on the forest floor that male deer create by pawing at the earth and rubbing their tarsal glands on overhanging branches.

Why do they do it? Simple - to mark their territory and communicate with other deer, especially during the breeding season, which is generally October through December. This, of course, varies on the region and climate.

If you're out walking through the woods and come across a fresh scrape, there's a good chance that a buck is close by (or will be soon).

Speaking of the breeding season, bucks are out and about during this time, looking for receptive does. And that's when scrapes come into play. Mature bucks often create scrapes near feeding or bedding areas, hoping that does will visit their scrape. Once the breeding season is over, the scraping behavior noticeably drops off since the rut is complete.

Here's an intriguing fact - whitetail bucks usually make scrapes in the same spot, year after year. It's not unusual for hunters to pinpoint scrapes that have existed for several decades. It's also worth noting that new scrapes can crop up overnight, which could mean that a mature buck has entered a hunter's land.

We've got a few known deer scrapes of bare dirt in our area. These primary scrapes are some of our best-kept secrets for landing monster bucks.

How to create a mock deer scrape?

Creating a mock deer scrape can be an exciting and fun way to draw in whitetail bucks to your hunting spot. When you hunt scrapes or buck rubs, you're more likely to attract mature bucks.

Before getting started, it's best to identify a suitable location where deer commonly visit. Deer often frequent areas with water sources, like streams or ponds, as well as places with food and bedding spots. Bedding and feeding areas are excellent spots for a mock scrape.

Once you've found the ideal spot, begin by clearing a 3-5 foot circular area around a small tree or bush. This will give the appearance of a deer scrape. Then, remove the leaf litter and expose the topsoil to create an indentation. Use a stick to create a shallow hole in the center of the area, which will hold the tarsal gland.

Next, look for an overhanging branch and trim it to approximately four to five feet above the scrape to create the licking branch. This branch will mimic the natural behavior of deer and encourage them to use the scrape.

The final step is to attract deer to the area by using additional scents. Hunting stores typically carry deer urine and other attractants, which can be added to the scrape. We have been using Active-Scrape for years and it works like a charm. It's made with real whitetail urine. Just spray one or two spots in the area, and the scent will travel in the wind.

Deer Scrape Scent Banner

Remember, it's crucial to make changes to the mock deer scrape to keep the deer interested. Try moving the tarsal gland holder or the licking branch to make the area seem more dynamic and appealing to deer.

Creating a mock deer scrape can be a compelling and enjoyable way to attract deer to your hunting area. It's not too difficult, but it does take a little bit of time and know-how.

Attracting deer to your scrape.

Deer hunting is a complex sport that requires a variety of skills, including the ability to attract deer to key areas such as fence lines, tree stands, and deer scrapes. While creating a proper scrape is important if you want to fill your freezer with deer meat, it is not the only factor that comes into play.

Setting the overhanging licking branch.

One way to encourage natural deer behavior is to create an appealing branch hanging over your mock scrape. By placing an overhanging branch in an area that deer frequent, you are creating a GPS system for them that indicates food, water, or shelter.

Deer will begin rubbing their tarsal glands on the overhanging branch, eventually leading them to discover your carefully crafted scrape.

Bedding and feeding areas are ideal.

Another method to attract deer to your area is to place your scrape near bedding or feeding sites. If your scrape is near a freshwater source or open meadow, it will be difficult for deer to resist their curiosity. This will almost certainly grab the attention of nearby deer and attract them to your site in no time.

Keep in mind not all deer scapes will find immediate success. It is important to hunt around a network of primary scrapes and secondary locations to improve your chances of a target. Once a buck begins the scraping process in an area, the chances that a whitetail buck makes his way back area greatly increase.

So, whether you're a seasoned hunter or just starting, following these methods will improve your chances of attracting more deer to your scrapes come hunting season.

Strategies for hunting around a deer scrape.

The deer scrape is a hunter's best friend. Not only does it offer a convenient spot to spot your target buck, but it also opens the opportunity to hunt other deer in the vicinity. Early in the season, when bucks are scarce, you may still spot other deer around the scrape.

Hunting around a deer scrape is no easy task, and it requires strategy. But, if done correctly, it can be rewarding.

To begin with, position yourself downwind of the target area, ensuring you have maximum visibility. It's best if you're on a tree stand, as it provides an ideal spot for you to settle down with your crosshair aimed at the scrape.

While waiting for your target, you don't want to startle other deer in the vicinity. Hence, using scent-blocking sprays can prevent giving yourself away.

The rutting period is the best time for hunting scrapes, as deer are more active then. However, you may create mock scrapes near the primary scrape, a strategy that could attract other bucks to the area. This gives you an upper hand by providing more options while waiting for your target buck to arrive.

Hunt scrapes and land mature bucks!

Understanding deer scrape is an essential tactic to increase your chances of bagging that trophy whitetail buck you've always wanted. With the knowledge of deer behavior, tarsal glands, licking branches, and scrapes, you can create your own mock scrape! It will lure deer into it successfully, and you will have one of your best hunting seasons yet!

Bear in mind creating a successful deer scrape requires a bit of time and attention. But trust me, once it's set up, it'll be worth the wait and effort. Don't forget that creating a mock scrape is not the only way to hunt whitetail bucks. You can always try different strategies depending on what works best for you.

So, get excited and head out to your desired hunting spot! Set up your scrape and prepare for the exhilarating experience of the hunt. No matter the outcome, the unexplainable feeling of being a part of nature and its beauty is always worth it.

Matt Johnson

Matt Johnson

Master Outdoorsman

Matt is a seasoned outdoorsman with expertise in fishing, hunting, and wildlife. With a Master's degree in Wildlife Science, he combines his passion for nature with conservation efforts, sharing his knowledge through his writing for Fish and Game Report.