The Power of the Scrape
Photo by North American Whitetail
Pre-rut behavior is just starting to appear on the whitetail deer hunting landscape. A few hunters have observed some light sparring between bucks, rub lines are being touched up, and scrapes are being made. One of these pre-rut behaviors just happens a lot more often than the others during the month of October.
That would be the construction and refreshing of scrapes. Bucks are feverishly making and refreshing scrapes as we speak. As the early pre-rut approaches, the power of the scrape cannot be ignored. Whether we're talking about trail cameras, establishing territory or actual hunting, scrapes can be king in mid-October.
You have to realize that making a scrape is like laying claim to a certain area in the world of whitetail. Bucks are constantly making new scrapes and hitting old ones to show the other deer in the area who the boss is. It's a way of communication and a way to establish the pecking order in a given area.
All of this with an eye toward the upcoming rut, of course. Which is why we see so many scrapes popping up and attracting the attention of bucks during this phase of the season. Scrapes truly are king during the month of October. Deer will freshen scrapes at other times of the season, but this is when it's go-time on scrapes.
But what does all of this mean to a deer hunter? Well, it can mean a lot. Let's dig into that.
If you know that scrapes are hot, you can actually incorporate scrape hunting into your strategy. However, I'll tell you that a vast majority of scrape activity takes place after dark. Nonetheless, some scrape activity can occur in daylight hours. Meaning that positioning yourself over a natural or mock scrape can be a dynamite decision to break up some slow October hunting. I love mock scrapes as a way to rile up a mature buck. When he thinks a new kid is on his block, he almost cannot help but to hit that scrape. Maybe he hits it when you're on the stand, maybe he hits it when you're not. That brings us to another point.
Transitioning your trail cameras to natural and mock scrapes is a dynamite tactic in October. Absolutely dynamite. As we discussed, a lot of scrape activity can take place after dark. That's frustrating if you're trying to actually hunt over a scrape, but it's just fine if your trail camera is doing the hunting for you. No, your trail cam can't shoot an arrow and put backstraps in the freezer, but it can help you to do just that. Nothing trumps solid trail camera information during these next few weeks of frantic and crazy deer hunting. The most informed hunters are often the most successful. Positioning trail cameras over scrapes can help you to put a pin on that big buck. From there, it's just a game of cat-and-mouse.
Positioning and Dominance
We will finish with a combination point. It's actually pretty simple. If you're hunting for the most mature and dominant buck in your area, scrapes can help you to get the job done. This kind of plays on everything we have been talking about in this article. When you have scrape locations in a given area, you can almost bet that a mature buck will take a crack at it. If you're really lucky, he's taking that crack in daylight hours while you're sitting in a blind or treestand. If not, your trail camera is doing the job for you. That allows you to successfully position yourself for that mature buck. See where we are headed?
Shifting your focus to scrapes in October can really help you to get on big bucks, and you can do it in a hurry. Scrapes are insanely relevant at this point and throughout the next few weeks. When you shift your attention to that scrape activity, it can position you for real results in relatively little time.
A scrape focus is an efficient focus at this point in the season. You can use all of that scrape activity and information to narrow your pursuit for that buck of a lifetime. With trail cameras and mock scrape-making kits falling off of store shelves left and right, it's a solid strategy for all of us to consider.