Have You Ever Had Photos of Bucks Bedding in Scrapes?
Most scraping activity (almost 90 percent) happens at night. So don’t expect to hang a treestand right over a scrape and kill a big one. Don’t get me wrong. It can happen. But don’t push all your chips to the middle of the table on this bet. Instead, dive further back into the cover downwind of the scrape. Bucks will generally circle downwind of the scrape before walking to it.
This particular buck was a regular last season. It visited my cameras as frequently (or more) than any other buck I had photos of on this property. Needless to say, it was a regular.
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Generally, when a buck tends a scrape, it starts by smelling/working the licking branch. Then, it will most likely clean out the scrape with its hooves. Next, it will urinate over its tarsal glands and deposit scent into the freshened scrape. Lastly, it’ll either work the licking branch again, or go on its way. And I guess, for the sake of this post, it might even plop down in the urine-stained soil.
Many hunters think the most important part of the scrape is on the ground. But the real magic is in the licking branch above the scrape. Make sure the scrape has an actively used licking branch — like the scrape in this photo — before you put much stock in it.
For those who aren’t aware, scrapes are a communicative tool for deer. Think of it as a public forum or message board for whitetails. Deer from the area visit the scrape and deposit urine to communicate with other deer in the herd. It’s believed that each deer is distinguishable by its own unique scent. It’s also believed that bucks can display their dominance and that does can exhibit their estrus status to other deer by using this method of interaction, too.
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While it might not be common, it’s not completely shocking to have deer bed down in front of a camera, especially if you run a lot of them. However, it is somewhat interesting to get photos of a deer bedding down in front of a camera that’s on an active scrape. But is it really all that odd to see? Not particularly. At least, not when you think about the logistics.
See, many (falsely) believe that bucks visit scrapes and does do not. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, some studies show that does visit scrapes as often, and in some cases more often, than bucks.
The ladies lick on branches, too. They aren’t afraid to kick a little dirt, either. I’ve run trail cameras on scrapes for years now. My trail cameras have shown about as many does using scrapes as bucks.
As for this particular buck, it was a regular at this scrape. And it bedded down in it on numerous occasions. My thoughts? It was doing so on occasion when it smelled an estrus (or near-estrus) doe had visited the scrape. Now, I don’t know if that was the case or not. But if the buck couldn’t trail the doe, it’s quite possible it camped out there waiting for the doe to return. Because, as research has documented, until located by a suitor, does often remain close to large, active scrapes when they’re nearing or in estrus.
Maybe this little guy sensed that? Who knows. But it’s interesting behavior nonetheless. It wasn’t the first time I’d witnessed this behavior. It most likely won’t be the last. And while the odds aren’t in your favor, and it’s not always the best tactic to employ, scrape hunting certainly isn’t dead.
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