Shenandoah Views - Nature Photography by Larry Brown

Rutting Whitetail Bucks :: Scrapes 101

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Whitetail deer communicate by vocalizations, scenting, and also visually such as during the rut when bucks create scrapes and rubs, also called sign-post marking. It is a widely held belief that bucks make and use scrapes to "cold call" for receptive does. Multiple scrapes are often found in areas bucks regularly pass through and are known as scrape lines.

Scrapes are areas beneath low hanging tree branches where a buck has used its front hooves to expose bare earth. Every scrape is somewhere along a main trail, typically near an intersection of two trails, and every scrape has a broken branch (or twigs) directly above it which is called a "licking branch".

A buck will urinate into the scrape by putting his hooves together, arching his back and then peeing on his tarsal glands (which are located inside the back legs) and it trickles down his legs into the fresh earth where it leaves an odor. This technique is often called "scenting," or "rub urination."

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The twigs of the overhanging branch are marked with scent from secretions of the buck's forehead glands by hooking the branch with his antlers and letting it rub along those glands. The licking branch is an important part of a scrape. Although bucks do most of the scrape marking, does visit these locations often. Both sexes will lick, chew and rub the licking branch of a scrape, and recent studies suggest that the licking branch is used as a major form of communication from deer to deer by the scent left on the branch. Whitetails have several scent dispersing glands on their body which all play a part in leaving it's signature for other deer. Their multiple glands and prominent nose are key anatomical features. Scent plays an important role in the world of the whitetail.

On subsequent visits to the scrape, a buck will freshen it up by exposing the moist earth with his front legs and rub urinating once again, as well as rub his forehead scent onto the branches and lick the broken branch. The creation of scrapes is directly related to the breeding cycle. As the does become receptive, scrapes begin to look old and unused. Once does begin to come into heat, bucks have little use for deer scrapes and stop using them. Mature dominant bucks produce large numbers of scrapes and they scrape most intensely just before breeding begins. Subordinate bucks do most of their scraping afterwards.


I have a short video clip of a buck creating a new scrape at dawn one morning, view it here.

And also a video playlist of various bucks freshening their scrapes, view it here.


Click On Image To Enlarge Click To EnlargeBuck leaving scent on scrape branches
Click On Image To Enlarge A buck using his front hooves to expose bare earth for his scrapeA buck pawing away the leaves
Click On Image To Enlarge Click To EnlargeA buck 'rub urinating' in a scrape
Click On Image To Enlarge A buck scenting a licking branchA buck scenting a licking branch



Buck Creating A Scrape



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Click On Image To Enlarge Click To EnlargeA typical scrape
Click On Image To Enlarge Click To EnlargeA typical licking branch
Various Bucks Freshening Scrapes


CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON TO VIEW THE VIDEO

OR CLICK HERE TO PLAY IT WITH YOUR DEFAULT VIDEO PLAYER


Attention Firefox Users:
You may need the Firefox WMP Plugin (free) to view the embedded video. Click on icon at left to get it.