How Often Do Bucks Check Scrapes?

As late October approaches and the rut begins in earnest, scrape lines become increasingly significant as signposts where bucks communicate with potential mates.

Knight suggested setting up security cover downwind of the site to ward off scent-checkers before working a scrape line, as well as using a trail camera to monitor usage by bucks.


If you’re hunting during the day this time of year, several factors should be kept in mind when searching for scrapes to hunt. First and foremost, ensure the scrape is new; bucks won’t likely visit old scrapes made more than several weeks ago. Also ensure it is in an easily accessible corridor between bedding areas and feeding spots as this increases its likelihood of success.

Deer Tracks & Signs Study from the University of Georgia can be an excellent tool to assist in finding fresh scrapes. This research conducted over more than 10 years involved observing whitetail deer behavior including scrape checking as part of their Quality Deer Management program; researchers could observe them and compare how does and bucks behaved at scrapes.

Mature bucks should check at least 6-12 scrapes every hour they are on their feet during the pre-rut and two weeks leading up to peak breeding, thus it is vitally important that scout for locations which provide transition security cover and food sources. Once primary breeding begins, most bucks will focus on chasing doe in estrus rather than visiting scrapes at all.


Whitetail deer will rub trees throughout September to rid themselves of velvet on their antlers, but scrape lines won’t start appearing until mid-October when pre-rut preparations have started and bucks have started getting into breeding condition for their annual mating rituals.

As a general guideline, scrapes near feeding locations (such as mast and fruit trees) tend to be primary scrapes that get frequent visits, though one near a travel corridor or doe bedding area will likely see frequent checks as well. One key factor influencing how often a scrape gets visited is freshness; bucks can tell if something new or old by its debris, with multiple licking branches signalling recent creation while barren dirt indicates old scrapes.

Mature bucks typically produce six to 12 scrapes an hour during their two weeks leading up to peak breeding, though only some of these will be primary scrapes and the others secondary ones. BaseMap’s scrape mapping and tracking features can help hunters pinpoint optimal hunting spots during this phase of pre-primary breeding.

Once the rut starts, a buck’s focus shifts toward finding and breeding with does. He may become less attentive to checking his scrapes – so it is crucial that hunting during this period continues by using grunts or rattles to attract him towards your decoys.


As most of us already know, whitetail bucks use scrapes to mark their territory, assert their dominance, and attract does to them. How frequently they visit these scrapes depends on various influential factors including deer population density, male-on-male competition among males, etc.

Bucks create scrapes by striking overhanging branches with their foreheads and antlers to clear away dirt underneath, often called “licking sticks.” After this has taken place, they urinate in their respective scrapes to signal both their territory as well as potential breeding partners. Urine trails serve both as territorial warnings as well as signals about when breeding may take place.

Pre-rut is when scrape activity peaks, as buck make aggressive territorial marking attempts to ensure doe scent is present and inform rivals they are ready for breeding season. At this time, it is not unusual for multiple checks of various scrapes in one night by individual bucks.

As soon as breeding has ended, buck scrape checking should decrease, likely because their priorities shift away from reproduction towards survival and they no longer feel the need to continually reinforce their presence with fresh scent.

For maximum success at hunting deer, it is wise to locate and target scrape lines early in the season. Doing this allows you to take advantage of their high frequency of visits during October and November when rut-related scrape activity peaks. In addition, investing in mock scrapes that are close by natural scrapes may serve as challenges that increase the odds of drawing attention from resident bucks and serve as potential shots at them.


Primary scrapes located at the core of a property often garner the most consideration during pre-rut and rut periods. They’re likely to be found near travel corridors and doe bedding areas than secondary scrapes that tend to be found around its edges; primary scrapes also tend to contain chewed leaves or licking branches more frequently and tend to be larger in size than secondary scrapes.

As estrus cycles progress and bucks hunt doe in estrus to breed, they begin inspecting and servicing their primary scrapes regularly. When seeking phase begins, bucks search the woods in search of doe in estrus to breed with. While seeking they’ll leave marks of territory using scrapes marked by aggressively rubbing the earth or branches overhead to leave an aroma trail that potential mates can use both smell and sight to find each other.

Researchers videotaped numerous males (of all age classes), eagerly pawing and working their scrapes. Their results disproved the myth that scraping is only undertaken by dominant buck individuals; yearlings were equally as enthusiastic to participate.

Bucks use scrapes as a form of communication during their chasing phase, which typically lasts through November’s second week. By hunting regularly-serviced scrapes, it may increase your odds of encountering an older buck.

If a doe in estrus isn’t immediately available for breeding, a buck may continue checking and servicing a scrape until she eventually becomes available for mating – this is known as secondary rut and it provides hunters with an ideal opportunity to use doe bleat calls and grunting calls to lure bucks toward their scrapes. To increase chances of a buck showing up during this period, anoint a mock scrape with dominant-buck scent during this period and place it close or even right next to natural scrapes – setting both is also known as secondary rut.


Bucks can be observed checking scrapes regularly throughout the year, yet their behavior becomes especially noticeable during pre-rut, rut and post-rut periods. At these points in time, bucks engage in fascinating behaviors to assert their dominance and attract suitable does – one such behavior being creating and checking scrapes, leaving their scent behind as an indication that they’re ready to breed.

Scrape type and location play an essential role in how often bucks visit it. Primary scrapes tend to get the most attention, often within 50 yards of bedding areas or travel corridors; on the other hand, boundary scrapes found along game trails, old logging roads and field edges tend to receive less visitors but still serve an important boundary marker and signal when someone is present in an area.

Environment and weather conditions also play a role in how often a buck checks its scrape. Favorable conditions, such as cooler temperatures and calm winds, may encourage it to visit more often; on the other hand, adverse weather conditions such as heavy rainfall or strong winds could prompt it to reduce its scrape-checking frequency in favor of seeking shelter and conserving energy.

Environmental influences aside, other deer and competition can also influence a buck’s scrape-checking behavior. Competing males will attempt to take over territory belonging to dominant stags while possibly using urine from their bladders to mark or “deodorize” scrapes.

As the rut reaches its peak phase, bucks typically exhibit increased scrape-checking behavior and actively seek receptive does in estrus. In some areas this can create a highly competitive breeding situation among male stags and lead to frequent scrape-checking incidents; after the rut is over though, their activity usually decreases and they focus more on rest and food intake.

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