Finding friends in your community is just a click away nowadays: just get on the Internet and log onto MySpace.com.
Finding friends is not so easy for white-tailed deer. For one, they don’t have computer access. For another, it’s difficult to type when you don’t have opposable thumbs.
Deer have their own kind of MySpace sites that they use to find each other every fall. They’re called scrapes. Hunters know them as hot spots.
White-tails create these areas by scraping grass or leaves down to the bare dirt in the woods or tree lines. Scrapes, which bucks make but are also used by does, can be the size of a bathroom sink or as big as the bed of a pickup truck. There’s always an overhanging branch in these areas, on which deer chew or rub their face.
Typically, deer will urinate in the bare dirt. What they’re doing is leaving behind scents so that other deer will know they’re around. It’s their own MyDeer profile. More than one buck may use a scrape.
Hunters target scrapes because it’s a sure sign of a buck in the area. However, research by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife biologist Karen Alexy has shown that hunters may be wasting their time unless they hunt scrapes at the right time.
Deer visit scrapes the most in October, before the peak of “rut,” or breeding season. Scrape visits by deer peak around the third and fourth week of the month, during the early archery and muzzleloader seasons. Bucks practically ignore scrapes during the rut, when modern gun seasons open statewide. Deer return to scrapes in late November through early December, prior to their second rut.
Research also shows that bucks mainly visit scrapes at night, when hunting is not allowed. For hunters, dawn is the best time to hunt a scrape because deer visits drop as the sun rises. A scrape is not worth hunting after 10 a.m.
For an afternoon hunt, Alexy suggests setting up your stand along scrape-lined trails between bedding and feeding areas.
When is the peak of deer rut? When is the best time to fish for bass in the shallows? What month do black bears start to emerge from dens with their cubs? Find out what’s going on in the outdoors each month with a Kentucky Afield calendar. Order your subscription to Kentucky Afield magazine by November 1 and you’ll receive the calendar issue before Christmas. It makes a great gift. Order online at www.kyafield.com or call (800) 858-1549 for more information.