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Scrapes, rubs must mean it’s that time of the year

It’s getting much more exciting now that we are in archery hunting season.

Archers have found a lot of rubs, scrapes, mast sources — acorns, beechnut, wild grapes, etc. That takes a lot of the guesswork out of where your archery stand will be. But now, the focus changes from feeding sites to breeding sites as the rut is getting underway.

Mature bucks are might wary animals in the woods as a rule. He can smell you from a half-mile away and see you from just about the same distance. But in the mating season, he has other, more urgent things on his mind. Does!

He is leaving his scent on scrapes he makes for the purpose of making a meeting site for does that have come into estrus. A scape is just what it implies: a big bare spot scraped by a buck who then urinates in it leaving his scent. The play book says that when a willing doe comes around this pungent scrape she will linger there waiting for him to arrive and the party to begin.

One notable characteristic of a scrape is that there will almost always be a small branch protruding into the scrape because a buck loves to spar with it, to sharpen his antlers or just to discharge energy.

It is during this breeding season that a buck will act foolishly and casts caution to the winds as he chases and pursues does around in the woods. It’s quite a show to watch, especially if you are appreciative of the fact that humans are not treated to this display of ardor very often.

As he chases or perhaps as he is tracking a hot doe, he will grunt and jump into the air in excitement. I’ve often heard bucks approaching my area long before I saw them. It makes your breath come a bit faster when you hear and see things in the woods that you seldom see. Most savor those moments, Those who do not hunt seldom have any understanding of the excitement the hunter feels at such times.

An incredible array of intricate details have to be implemented perfectly to get within 35 yards of not only the spookiest wild creature in our woods, but one that can smell us too. By paying attention to a lot of the “little” but important things, hunters have learned to overcome the advantage that the whitetail deer has over us. Here are some of those tips from Steve Lecorchick of Barnesboro.

“Bucks hang-up to antler rattling just as gobblers do to turkey calls. If a buck comes to where he thinks he should be able to see the bucks and he hears sparring, but he does not see them, he’ll stand out there and scan the scene but not come any closer. The ideal set-up is to have a buddy about 50 yards behind your stand rattling antlers on the ground. That often draws a buck right into bow range.”

His second tip is to make a mock scrape if there is not one at the site where you want to put up your tree stand. A scrape is the best location for clicking antlers.

“I put my mock scrape within 50 yards of an existing scrape, making sure it is smaller than the real scrape,” he said. “I scent the mock scrape lightly with deer urine. The idea is to fool a buck into thinking a smaller buck is trying to horn in on his territory.”

Terry Rohm, a noted Pennsylvania hunter, offers this tip which I consider one of the best pieces of deer hunting advice I’ve ever received.

“Two things hunters neglect when it comes to masking their human scent is their hair and their breath. I wash my hair just before I hunt with scentless soap, then I wear a hat that covers my head completely. No mesh cap for me.”

Rubber boots seem to control scents from the feet better than do leather boots. Archers often spray their feet with antiperspirant to keep down the odor but it will work only if your socks are not ones you’ve worn for three days straight.

Even as a small tendril of breeze will betray you, so inattention to details will yield you only another day of frustration.

In matters of scent, no doubt the foundation truth is for the hunter to be as scent-free as possible when he goes hunting. Care must be taken to keep hunting clothes and boots from absorbing everyday scents, such as garlic, the dog, gasoline and the hoagie we pick up to eat on the way to the woods. Smart archers wash their clothes, body and hair often in scent-free soaps. The spray-on scent free products enjoy great popularity; apparently they are quite effective in removing odors. They really should be used as a final masking of lingering traces of human odor rather than being relied on for removing heavy odors.

Only once in a thousand times does it happen that a hunter saunters into the woods and a huge buck walks into his sight line and then stops, offering the perfect shot.

When it happens to a first-time deer hunter, he or she thinks it a great stroke of luck. But really it isn’t because he then thinks this deer hunting is easy and wonders as the next five years go by and he seldom even sees a deer in the woods.

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