Scott Bestul

Scrapes can be the most maddening whitetail sign out there. While scrapes are obviously hugely important to bucks, you don’t have to run trail cams (or sit in a stand over one) very long to realize that the vast majority of buck visits to active scrapes occur at night. In fact, those nocturnal fly-bys have caused some hunters I know almost ignore scrapes as hunting locations.

Big mistake, I’m convinced. Especially during a narrow window of the fall some experts call “scrape week.” If this were a specific 7-day period that could be counted on every year, hunting scrape week would be a slam-dunk. But like everything else in whitetail hunting, figuring it out can take some work. Basically, I define scrape week as a five- to ten-day window when bucks are feeling the testosterone dump associated with the rut, but are highly active within their home range. Sit a scrape –especially one close to a buck’s bedding area—during this time frame, and that once-frustrating buck sign can suddenly become your favorite.

How do you nail down scrape week? The absolute best is capturing a buck like the one above hitting a scrape during, or close to, daylight. While this wide, main-frame 8 hit this scrape a week ago, the video reveals some critical info that will hopefully arrange an encounter in the days ahead. First, the buck is not afraid to move in daylight under the right conditions. Second, this scrape is in or near his core area, since bucks aren’t moving big yet. Third, I know from recent hunts that few, if any, does are in estrous right now, so he should remain faithful to patterns for a precious few more days. I can add this video to other info and encounters I have with him to come up with a hunting plan.

With cool temps and mostly-high pressure scheduled for the next few days, I think my odds with this deer are about as good this week—scrape week—as they’ll be all fall.