By GrowingDeer,

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I’ve heard a lot of stuff about scrapes but I would like to know the truth from a real biologist. How do you classify scrapes?  Are there such things as primary and secondary scrapes, community scrapes, and territorial scrapes?  Or are scrapes just to see if the doe is hot and ready to breed?  What are the different types of scrapes and when do they happen?



Scrape behavior was the subject of the research project for my Master’s thesis.  I’ve always been fascinated by deer use of scrapes.  I filmed a mature buck marking an existing scrape while hunting in Kansas recently.  I share this to let you know I have studied and hunted near scrapes for decades.  With that said, I and other scientists still have many unanswered questions about scrapes.  I will summarize my research on scrapes by saying…

  1. Each scrape is a unique signpost.
    1. I’m not aware of any location (field edge, etc.) that predicts the demographics or frequency of deer visits to that scrape.
  2. Does and fawns frequently visit scrapes.
  3. Some scrapes, especially the licking branch portion of the scrape, are used year round.
    1. These are typically located in areas that deer travel frequently.
  4. Peak use of scrapes occurs about two weeks before peak conception in that location.
    1. Selecting a stand simply because it overlooks a scrape during the rut is probably not the best tactic.
  5. I do not believe in primary, secondary, or territorial scrapes.
    1. Deer don’t defend their home range by scent marking like many predators do.  Deer probably use scent marking to communicate specific messages, such as breeding status, etc.  However, even that is a theory.
      1. Certainly some scrapes are used by deer more frequently than others. This is especially true in areas with an adult sex ratio that is balanced or favors bucks.
  6. At minimum, scrapes mark areas that deer have traveled.  Fresh scrapes indicate deer are currently using that area.  I use scrapes more to learn about deer travel routes than I do exact stand locations.

I hope my observations provide you a foundation to form your opinions.

Growing Deer together,