Hunting The Rut -
Reading and Using Scrapes for Bucks

By The Field Logic Pro Staff

Scrapes that whitetail bucks make around the time of the rut can act as natureís dating service: Bucks advertise theyíre around by tearing up the earth with their hooves and antlers, then depositing a bit of urine and maybe a footprint. They also will tear off branches and twist limbs hanging above their scrape, behavior many whitetail observers think might be related to a show of dominance. Usually, they leave scent from facial "preorbital" glands and their saliva on limbs that overhang the scrape. This leaves their calling card to warn other bucks and tell the does that heís there.

The scrape is intended to tell other bucks to stay out while inviting available does to dome on over. Does visit and sometimes answer by leaving notice that theyíre in heat with a urine calling card or other scents from walking by.

This article will focus on how reading scrapes can help select your hunting stand and how spicing them up with doe-in-heat urine can lead to a big buck.

Steve Hysell, who runs an archery pro shop bearing his name in Sturtevant, Wisconsin, arrowed a non-typical 18-pointer that scored 199 points in the Boone & Crockett records in November of 1994. Hysell, a veteran of 29 archery seasons, used Field Logicís PURE-HEAT doe-in-heat urine to help identify an active scrape being used by a huge buck. Once the scrape was identified, a few more drops of PURE-HEAT brought the buck back, where Hysell waited, 28 feet above in an old oak tree.

Following Hysellís strategy for reading scrapes and selecting a stand could lead to your own buck of a lifetime.

Hysell and his father knew the big buck was in the area, having spotted him following does on traditional doe trails several times during the six days before the kill. They believed the big buck was bedding in a swamp on a wildlife preserve. Scrapes abounded in the area, which meant the trick would be identifying the ones the trophy was using.

Hysell narrowed down his selection to three spots, chosen by the size of branches about the scrapes that a deer had torn down. In each spot, a buck had broken overhead branches as thick as the circumference of a quarter dollarómeaning a big, powerful deer had to be responsible. Another key to identifying the scrapes was Hysellís use of PURE-HEAT and dead leaves. Each night, on the way out of the woods, Hysell "freshened" each of the three key scrapes with a few drops of PURE-HEAT, which Field Logic gathers at the peak of the doesí estrus cycles (the brief period when does can successfully breed). Hysell then kicked a few leaves into the scrape. If the leaves were gone the next morning, it meant the buck had visited and scraped again the night before.

Hysell selected one particular scrape to hunt because it was the one that offered the easiest access to the swamp, and because the buck seemed to be giving it the most attention.

"He just dug at it more, it seemed to be the one he like the best," Hysell said. When Hysell got to the stand before daybreak, his penlight showed the leaves were gone, making his confidence soar. He flicked a couple fresh drops of PURE-HEAT into the scrape as he climbed to his stand. Shortly after sunrise, he saw the trophy following does. The big deer was about 90 yards away.

"I thought that was probably it for the day because he was headed the other way and I wouldnít get a shot," said Hysell, who has learned patience through spending many hours in a deer stand each autumn. "But 20 minutes later, there he was again, just 30 yards away. He came right to the bottom of the tree and I took him."

The Formula For Attracting The Big Buck With Pure-Heat

When does go into heat for the first time each fall and the rut begins, food scents, curiosity scents and buck urine take a back seat to doe-in-heat urine. Although most does will be bred during the first three days of the first cycle, many hunters donít realize that throughout the whitetailís range, bucks seek does will into February. Thatís because does that arenít bred come back into heat every 28 days and many fawns arenít physically developed enough to reproduce until late in the winter.

Armed with this knowledge and a bottle of doe-in-heat urine like PURE-HEAT, whitetail hunters can take advantage of a buckís quest for does from the time the rut begins until the season closes late in the winter.

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