Deer Hunting Strategies: Late Season Scrapes (Episode 267 Transcript)

This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.

GRANT: Scrapes can be a great late season stand location. I think there’s a lot of misconceptions about scrapes. I started studying scrapes during the 1980’s as part of my master’s thesis. And at that time, we were limited to personal observation and very crude trail camera prototypes. Today, thousands of hunters use trail cameras to monitor scrapes. Recently, we started trying Reconyx’s UltraFire camera, which takes great pictures, but also, awesome video.

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GRANT: One comment I hear frequently is that bucks make scrapes to outline and defend their territory. That’s simply not correct. Bucks don’t defend territories in fighting, or defending it, like bears or coyotes might. Actually, scrapes are more of a general communication post.

GRANT: We had a recent sequence of videos from one of our trail cameras that should answer a lot of questions about scrapes.

GRANT: The scrape we were studying was on the top of an elevator ridge. An elevator ridge is simply a ridge that goes all the way from the bottom to a larger ridge. And deer use it like an elevator to go from lower elevation to higher elevations. Approximately a quarter mile or so from the bottom where there’s some large feeding plots, we developed a hidey hole food plot – a small food plot about an eighth of an acre – put a Trophy Rock Four65 station and put out one of our Reconyx UltraFires.

GRANT: In timber country, it can be hard to define travel corridors. Unlike ag country, where you can see on a map clearly where there’s a band of timber, or a creek bottom, the deer would use to travel from one place to another. Well, in 80% or more of the landscapes covered by timber, it’s hard to identify these patterns. Elevator ridges can certainly be used as a travel corridor.

GRANT: We knew this particular elevator ridge was used as a travel corridor and as a large scrape developed at the edge of our hidey hole food plot. We put the camera up and was excited to see what happened.

GRANT: About 4:30 in the afternoon on December 19th, a group of does and fawns passed through the hidey hole food plot. A mature doe clearly uses the overhanging limb of the scrape while other does and fawns visit the Trophy Rock Four65 station. This group of does and fawns moves in and out of view of the camera. By watching the footage, it’s obvious that either the same doe returns and uses this scrape multiple times or multiple does use this scrape. That certainly buries the old myth that only bucks use scrapes.

GRANT: The video footage shows that deer remain in the staging area, or more deer move through, for about an hour. This is an incredible staging area and it’s well-designed. Staging areas should be built away from the main feeding areas, but in a location where hunters can approach, hunt, and leave without alerting the deer.

GRANT: The next morning, about 7:30 a.m., a group of does and fawns move back through the staging area and clearly, at least one adult doe uses the overhanging limb. It’s common to find well used scrapes around staging areas that include a hidey hole food plot and a good source of trace minerals. There’s so many deer using that area and so much scent, it’s obviously a good place for a communication post.

GRANT: About an hour later, there’s another group of does and fawns moving through the hidey hole food plot, headed toward the bedding area, but this time, they have some company.

GRANT: Notice this buck lick and purposely rub a gland near his eyes on the overhanging limb. As this first buck moves on to the Four65 mineral, another buck checks out the scrape.

GRANT: This buck also licks the overhanging limb and rubs his preorbital glands – glands right at the base of his eyes – on the limb and his forehead glands. This buck is doing some serious marking.

GRANT: It gets even more interesting as the younger buck returns to the scrape as a more mature buck is still there. They’re now just feet away, with no signs of fighting, and this young buck marks the overhanging limb with his preorbital and forehead glands.

GRANT: This video clip gives us a great example to compare the body shape of different age bucks. Notice the buck on the right in that his neck merges with his chest well above his brisket. While the buck on the left has a much fuller neck – same day, same food, same weather conditions – but his neck merges with his chest much closer to his brisket. I estimate the buck on the right to be 2.5, even though he has a great set of antlers; the buck on the left to be 3.5.

GRANT: Another indicator of a buck’s age is how far the stain on the tarsal gland extends down their leg. Notice the buck on the right has a darkly stained tarsal gland, but it doesn’t drip or extend far down its lower leg. Where the buck on the left, the stain drips down a couple of inches below the big puff of hair on the tarsal gland.

GRANT: Usually, the more dominant the buck, the longer that stain on the tarsal gland will be. And subordinate bucks will try to lick that stain off as they don’t want that scent causing a fight when the big buck’s around.

GRANT: The Quality Deer Management Association has done a great job of summarizing the most recent research about tarsal glands and you can check it out at this website.

GRANT: The third buck finally gets in to the action and works the overhanging limb. The excitement isn’t over as it appears a doe, probably a young doe, returns from the bedding area and uses the Four65, while a button buck – and you’ll have to look close to see his buttons – moves back into the overhanging limb. We’ve now had does, three bucks, and a button buck use the same scrape within a matter of a couple of hours.

GRANT: As this doe hangs around the Four65 station, you’ll notice she’s frequently looking back and then the camera picks up a grunt from the distance.

GRANT: I have this UltraFire unit set to take 20 second video clips. And in the next clip, you see a buck – probably the buck we heard grunting – enter the frame.

GRANT: Notice how far down his legs this buck’s tarsal glands are stained. It’s not coincidence that he’s the one chasing a doe that’s apparently receptive. There was a lot of cool behavior and biology shown in these video clips. And it was all made possible by strategically placed Trophy Rock station and hidey hole food plot. This summer, we’ll be creating some more hidey hole food plots and we’ll share all our techniques and strategies and why we pick certain locations, so stay tuned so you can create these great stand locations where you hunt.

GRANT: Using Hot Zone fences to protect soybeans so they can mature in small food plots is another strategy we use to pattern mature bucks during the late season.

GRANT: A couple of episodes back, we shared with you a food plot where we had used a Hot Zone fence, and opening the fence or creating a gap, allowing deer in the late season to access the standing beans. We placed a Reconyx camera right on the fence gap so we could tell when deer starting using the standing beans. About the time we created a fence gap, the weather turned warm, wet and foggy – almost every day.

GRANT: When the weather’s warmer, deer simply don’t need as many calories and tend to feed less or feed at nighttime, so they don’t get too hot feeding during the day. You can tell by the way I’m dressed, it’s turned cold again and the good news is deer have found the gap and are using the beans.

GRANT: While going through the pictures of that Reconyx camera, we were pleased that a couple of bucks have already started using the gap. One of the deer using the gap is a mature buck we call Two Face.

GRANT: Two Face has a large home range with no distinguishable pattern, so we haven’t spent any time hunting that buck.

GRANT: Adam and I are hoping these standing beans are the exact recipe to get Two Face to narrow his range down a little bit and we’ll certainly be hunting that plot during the next couple of days.

GRANT: I hope you and your family have time to get outside and enjoy the late season this week. But most importantly, I hope you take time and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching