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Illinois hunting and fishing

A buck has pawed the ground to create a scrape near a sapling that has been rubbed until its bark is nearly gone. Chris Young/The State Journal-Register.

Reading signs on the deer highway

November 14, 2010 at 07:07 AM

The State Journal-Register

Archery deer hunters are hard at it. The shotgun season will be here soon. Deer activity, or lack of it, is hot coffee-shop conversation.

Scrapes and rubs are good indicators of whether there are resident bucks in the areas we hunt. If you don’t see a single scrape or rub in your hunting area, and if you have your heart set on a buck, the signs are not in your favor. Hunt someplace else.

Beyond announcing the presence of bucks, it may be a stretch to read much more into the significance of rubs and scrapes.

Some say, “Big bucks rub big trees.” That may be so. It is true that bucks with taller racks can reach higher and leave rub marks higher up in trees. Taller trees tend to be bigger trees.

Illinois hunting and fishing

One thing that a line of rubs can tell you for sure is the direction the rubbing buck was traveling. As they walk along, bucks rub the side of the tree that’s in front of them. They don’t walk around to work on the backside. As you are inspecting a rub, or a rub line, look at the ground. Big bucks may not always rub big trees, but big bucks always leave big tracks.

Experts say bucks begin scraping the ground about two weeks before the rut. Scrapes will appear overnight. Hunters and biologists who study scrapes and scraping activity have concluded that bucks make scrapes to announce that their presence. The size of the scrape has nothing to do with the size of the deer.

Both bucks and does visit scrapes. Neither bucks nor does visit scrapes very much during the daylight. One study, using trail cams to monitor scrape activity, concluded that 98 percent of all scrape visits were at night. Another study showed that the buck originally making the scrape seldom, if ever, revisits that scrape. In many cases, the same scrapes are opened year after year. That’s because bucks tend to make scrapes along established lines of travel.

In American Hunter Magazine, Patrick Durkin says, “An individual scrape is seldom a destination. If deer trails were highways, scrapes would be points of interest along the way ... deer seldom visit scrapes unless they are conveniently located among other attractions.”

It’s true that some have incredible success hunting scrapes. If you’re one of them, ignore the research. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

If you’ve waited day after drizzly day beside a scrape and come up empty, perhaps it’s time to consider the advice of the scrape-monitoring experts, who agree that you are wasting valuable hunting time hanging around a scrape. They say scrapes are only a signpost.

Put up your stand in higher-traffic areas. Your best chance of success when hunting a scrape may boil down to being in the right place at exactly the right time when your trophy buck shows up to make it.

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Some good info here…had good and bad experience with hunting over scrapes.  At least it shows something is working the area.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/14 at 11:11 AM

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