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Scouting Tip: Work Outside-In to Find the Hottest Scrapes

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October 21, 2013

Scouting Tip: Work Outside-In to Find the Hottest Scrapes

By Scott Bestul

If you're a businessman trying to win a free lunch at your favorite diner, do you tuck your business card in a dusty corner and hope that management spots it? Of course not. You stick it in the fish bowl on the counter with the others—right where it's got the best shot at being noticed.

Scrapes work much the same for whitetails. I don't know anyone who claims to know all the functions of a scrape, but this much seems certain: They serve as a kind of social interaction site where deer come to toss down some ID. They are especially important in the weeks leading up to the rut. I'm heading out for a scouting/stand-hanging mission this afternoon, and finding scrapes is at the top of my to-do list.

As I was prepping my gear last night, it occurred to me we are always touting the virtues of speed-scouting to keep up with deer sign—but often without ever getting specific about exactly how to find as much sign as quickly as possible. So here's the best description of my scrape-finding system: I work from the outside (food sources) and work in (toward, but rarely into, bedding areas), paying special attention to the following.

Field Edge: Bucks can't resist a branch hanging over a field or plot edge. (Just check out this guy in the photos, from a local friend's property). I live in farm country, so corn, soybean, and alfalfa fields are all good spots to check—and food plots are the absolute best for finding scrapes. I can walk the perimeter of each quickly.

Staging Areas: Finding these is usually a snap. After locating a field-edge scrape or run, I look for the nearest entry trail and walk it back into the timber, searching for a spot where two or more trails intersect. This is the spot where bucks "stage up" before committing to the field, and there should be scrapes and rubs right there. Staging areas are excellent stand sites for an afternoon hunt.

Open-Cover Corridors: Logging roads are my absolute favorite. They provide easy, but secluded, travel for deer. Plus the dirt is usually soft in at least some spots, which makes scraping easy for bucks. They can rarely resist laying down some sign here.

All three of these spots share common traits. They are highly visible. They are in areas featuring soft dirt and overhanging branches. And they are in high-traffic areas. I can look at an aerial map of a property and identify likely spots before I even arrive. But even when that's not possible, the process is pretty simple; start at the food source and work back in the timber, looking for those open places where a buck would leave his "business" card.   

Comments (3)

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from mpoissant12 wrote 25 weeks 2 days ago

after reading this I cant wait to sit in my stand this coming weekend

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from RockySquirrel wrote 25 weeks 2 days ago

Scrapes!! I have been out scouting twice. Where I life in suburbia is full of deer, that I can’t hunt. My standby forest, nothing. Not even evidence of a ghost, buck.

I will be lucky to find a rub, deer sign or prints in the mud. My old standby spots are apparently being hunted out. I see worn trails, but no prints and no sign. So they must be traveling far for food.

The old rule still applies. No buck rubs = No buck. No deer sign = No deer.

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from goldhunter wrote 25 weeks 2 days ago

I have deer (even bucks) in my backyard and have been looking for scrapes at least 5 times. I haven't found anything probably because I'm new. I have pictures of some nice bucks to on my trail cam. Just can't find any rubs.

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from mpoissant12 wrote 25 weeks 2 days ago

after reading this I cant wait to sit in my stand this coming weekend

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RockySquirrel wrote 25 weeks 2 days ago

Scrapes!! I have been out scouting twice. Where I life in suburbia is full of deer, that I can’t hunt. My standby forest, nothing. Not even evidence of a ghost, buck.

I will be lucky to find a rub, deer sign or prints in the mud. My old standby spots are apparently being hunted out. I see worn trails, but no prints and no sign. So they must be traveling far for food.

The old rule still applies. No buck rubs = No buck. No deer sign = No deer.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from goldhunter wrote 25 weeks 2 days ago

I have deer (even bucks) in my backyard and have been looking for scrapes at least 5 times. I haven't found anything probably because I'm new. I have pictures of some nice bucks to on my trail cam. Just can't find any rubs.

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