Alsheimer: Whitetail Scrape Activity is Exploding

Charles J. Alsheimer on Deer & Deer Hunting

Bucks are now feverishly marking their territories with scrapes, making as many as six to 12 each hour that they are on their feet. (photo copyright Charles J. Alsheimer)

If you’ve done any amount of scouting recently, you know that the amount of rubs and scrapes has exploded, especially in the last week and a half. For the next week scraping behavior will be at fever pitch as bucks scent-mark their home area. As I’ve mentioned many times in my Deer and Deer Hunting articles, this is akin to dogs urinating on fire hydrants.

In the late 1980s I was part of a scrape study that looked at the number of times a buck would make a scrape during the two weeks leading up to peak-breeding.  We discovered that on average, sexually active bucks in the study made six to 12 scrapes every hour they were on their feet during this time.

Check out this video clip of D&DH TV’s episode on Rubs, Scrapes and Licking Branches


It is important to point out that scraping behavior is not limited to bucks only, because does and fawns – if the fawns can reach the licking branch – also visit a scrape to leave scent. Active scrape sites will be used by nearly every deer that lives in the area.

In the process of making a scrape bucks work five major scent glands. On the overhanging licking branch they leave scent from their nasal, preorbital and forehead glands. Once the licking branch has been worked a buck will bring his tarsal glands together, then urinate through them as he rocks his body back and forth, creating a behavior known as rub-urination. After rub-urinating the buck will scrape debris from the ground under the licking branch, leaving scent from his interdigital gland.

Watch this great example of a white-tailed deer making a scrape.


When scrapes have gone cold, with little sign they are being used, it is a good indication that the breeding phase of the rut has arrived. So one way or another, the level of scraping activity in your area is a prime indicator of how the rut is progressing.

– Charlie


Recent research proves that the licking branch is the No. 1 key to success when hunting a mock scrape. Furthermore, the key to that licking branch is preorbital scent. Bucks secrete this scent as a means of distinctly identifying themselves from the “competition.” Bucks regularly visit licking branches and become aware when a new rival shows up — the licking branch has the scent of a guy they don’t know.

For the first time ever, preorbital lure is available to the general public and now can be yours! Each bottle contains matching glands from individual bucks and comes in a 1.25oz bottle.