Last post we talked about the importance of using a whitetail scrape for scouting and hunting. However, now is the time when the scrape becomes a key tool in seeing and potentially getting a shot on a buck. Generally, the best time to see bucks at scrapes is 2-3 weeks before peak breeding. Big whitetails often do not visit scrape sites during “the Rut” because they are too busy chasing does. The date is October 19th and the signs are starting to show of some pre-breeding activity and the time to hunt scrapes.
During this time bucks are getting more erratic with their patterns. Look for bucks to rise out of their beds a little earlier. This could possibly mean buck movement earlier in the afternoon. Nights are starting to get long for the bucks and nightly rounds are taking longer than normal so look for bucks to check scrapes near their sleeping spots first, right about sunset. That long night activity is filled with bucks looking for does, this may keep them up later than normal. Once again the bucks will check the scrapes around where they bed down after sunrise. I guess it is fair to say, that the best scrape is near the bedding area. Scrapes that are further from the bedding area are the ones tended to in the middle of the night. Its a common theory that bucks bed in wooded and secluded areas, this is where you will find the scrapes that are being visited in the early evening and early morning. Find the scrapes near the bedding area, and along the trail the buck would walk to and from his sleeping spot and set up as close as you can without disturbing the bedding area. The best time to hunt in this area is obviously morning and evening as the buck will visit these scrapes to and from bed.
However, none of this is going to do any good if the scrape is not being used frequently. The best way to determine this is scouting, by checking it daily. The folks over at Buck Manager offered a great tip: put some leaves over the area. If when you come back to check the scrape the leaves have been moved it is a great sign that the scrape is active. Sounds like a great place to set up a camera and a stand. Should you happen across a scrape that looks like it has been used frequently, but does not show signs of recent use, note it in your hunting journal. This could be a scrape that is “traditional” and is used throughout different times of the year. Once noted in your journal, check the scrape throughout the year and note when it is active. This could be a useful tool in getting a buck before or after the rut.
As for me, I haven’t seen any shooter bucks since mid-September. I’ve found an active scrape, but the buck that frequents it needs a couple more years. We’ve named him Twig and he is 2.5 years. He’s got a nice looking rack, but no mass. That seems to be the case for most of the deer spotted on the property. There are some good genetics, but so much youth. The pic below is another young deer, but one that will be great in 2 years. We’ll see how the season progresses and hopefully the big deer on my hit list come back.
Some sites that helped me understand the importance of scrapes:
Best of luck…only 12 days until Halloween….