In the established lore of whitetail hunting, sitting over fresh scrapes or an active rub line is often considered a tactic best reserved for the week or two leading up to the rut. Truth is, any time you can hunt hot sign you have a great chance of tagging a buck, even in mid-September. Just ask Chadd Bragg, who filled his Nebraska bow tag last weekend with this Pope & Young buck as it worked over some fresh sign.

“There were lots of deer moving Sunday, and I saw quite a few bucks still bunched up,” said Bragg, who hunts just off the Platte River in central Nebraska. “This particular one was checking scrapes, and checked the one right behind my tree stand.”

The buck was just 13 yards away when Bragg sent the 100-grain Cabela’s Copperhead-tipped arrow through the deer’s vitals, putting an early end to his Nebraska archery season.

Despite the continuing presence of bachelor groups, deer are starting to break off from the herd and establishing their territory. I expect more and more scrapes to be popping up in the next week to 10 days, something Bragg confirmed when he did some recon Sunday afternoon.

“I saw a bunch of scrapes, but not many rubs, while checking cameras later that day,” said Bragg.

When a new scrape shows up, other bucks in the area are all but guaranteed to at least check it out, if not add to it, creating what Field & Stream whitetail columnist and Midwest Rut Reporter Scott Bestul calls a “Power Scrape.”

This week, whether you’re hunting public land or staying mobile on your home place, throwing up a stand over a brand new scrape might lead to a great buck. It did for Bragg.