Alsheimer: Licking Branches Are Key To Early-Season Deer Hunting

By Charles J. Alsheimer

Alsheimer on Deer & Deer Hunting

Scrape activity is ramping up in the early season – just not in the most visible way. (photo copyright Charles J. Alsheimer)

By the end of September bucks begin reacting to increased testosterone in their system. This natural sex drug causes them to become more aggressive toward bucks that were just recently part of their summer bachelor group. It also drives them to deposit more and more of their scent as they prepare for the rut. From now until mid-November scent marking their home range will increase with each passing day. One of the chief ways they do this is by making scrapes.

Scraping behavior from mid-September to mid-October consists primarily of a buck rubbing his preorbital, nasal and forehead glands on the overhanging licking branch to leave as much scent as possible at the scrape site. In the process of working the licking branch a buck will often also salivate heavily on the branch. One step in the early-season scrape-making process that is different from late October and November scraping, is that bucks will seldom paw the ground bare under the branch during the early season.

If the licking branch is along the edge of a food source or a well-used trail, all bucks and many does will work the branch to leave their scent. As autumn rolls on these locations can turn into prime hunting locations.


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.