When Do Bucks Visit Scrapes?

November 1, 2012 By: Matt Ross

Have you ever set up on a fresh scrape, only to sit for hours and not see a thing? Well, wildlife researchers have shown that most scraping activity (nearly 85 percent) occurs at night. So, hunting directly over a scrape may not be the best strategy during early November to catch a glimpse of that buck you’ve been getting on your trail-camera. A hot scrape or scrape line is certainly a sign of a good area, but it shouldn’t be the focus of your hunting effort. As an alternative, hunt does to find bucks.

Here are more interesting facts about buck signpost communication taken directly from NDA’s Deer Report. For more information like this, download the 2009 through 2021 reports:

• Pheromones deposited at signposts (rubs and scrapes) by mature bucks may have a “bio-stimulating” or trigger effect on the breeding season.

• Older bucks may also produce “controlling” or “priming” pheromones that yearling bucks are not physically mature enough to produce.

• Areas with mature bucks can have 10 times as many rubs as areas without them.

• Mature bucks make about 85 percent more scrapes and 50 percent more rubs than yearling bucks.

• Bucks of all ages use scrapes, and any given scrape is likely to be used by many individuals.

• Scraping activity peaks just prior to peak of the rut, but active scrapes may be found over several months.

• Scrapes only a couple hundred yards apart may be used by completely different groups of bucks, which brings into question the idea of a “scrape line.”

About Matt Ross:

Matt Ross of Saratoga Springs, New York, is a certified wildlife biologist and licensed forester and NDA's Director of Conservation. He received his bachelor's in wildlife conservation from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and his master's in wildlife management from the University of New Hampshire. Before joining the NDA staff, Matt worked for a natural resource consulting firm in southern New Hampshire, and he was an NDA volunteer and Branch officer. He and his wife Sadie have two daughters, Josephine and Sabrina.