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Early Season Buck Scrapes: What Do They Mean?

Early Season Buck Scrapes: What Do They Mean?
Early season scrapes made by bucks are mainly for communication as they begin to break apart from bachelor groups and lay out their territories. (Jeremy Flinn photo)

As crazy or shocking as it might be, there’s a good chance you are already seeing some scrapes. No, the deer aren’t rutting extremely early in your area. These scrapes are much different than those you see as the rut approaches. That being said, the scrapes you come across now can be extremely effective to hunt. But you have to know what you are looking at in order to maximize your chances at success.

One of the best things about these early-season scrapes is there are fewer of them than the ones you will see as the rut approaches. So if you find one, the odds of running into a buck in that area are higher than hunting over a scrape when there are several within 200 yards of your stand.

These early scrapes are mainly for communication as bucks begin to break apart from bachelor groups and lay out their territories. Think of it as a way for a buck to say, “Yes, this is my territory.” At some point this can evolve into a breeding communication scrape, but for now it’s more about territory.

Another plus about discovering these scrapes is the number of different bucks that will utilize them. Often bucks, even mature bucks, will visit these scrapes as they begin to compete for position in the local buck hierarchy. Having a good trail camera out can easily show this, and might be a great way to get an idea of the bucks you will be hunting in the area.


Nick Mundt, of Michael Waddell’s Bone Collector, states, “Finding these scrapes early in the season could be a good indicator of shooter bucks in the area.”


One of my hunting rules is do not mess with these scrapes! Far too often we think more is better, and hunters will want to add deer urine or other attractants … don’t do it. These scrapes will be very sensitive to unfamiliar or unusual additives. That’s not to say they will never work, but for the most part, its best to let nature takes its course and save the “doe in estrous” for later in the season.

Most of these early scrapes will be discovered in high travel areas, particularly around field edges. These are often utilized year after year, so if you have stumbled across them in previous seasons, there’s a good chance they will be there again this year.

These won’t stay hot very long, so if you have a chance to get on them early, go for it. If not, there is a good chance they will become active again the closer to the rut we get, so don’t forget about them. At the very least, get a camera on the scrape to see what bucks are using it. You might just be surprise at what you see.

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