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Hunting During The Pre-Rut

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Toby's dear friend Krissy Jean Marrall with an exceptional 8pt taken over a mock scrape

Opening weekend of archery season has been a great success for many bowhunters; I’m hearing lots of stories of good fortune.  The acorns haven’t begun falling in huge quantities and the deer are up and moving in order to fill their bellies. In this period of the season, it’s normal to focus on food sources or bedding areas while waiting for the rut to kick in.  And that’s always been my go to opening weekend strategy as well.

Now, for the folks out there familiar with the rut, it’s the time of the season when the does are actively coming into estrus and the bucks move day and night in search of love.  There are at least three identifiable peaks of rutting activity during the extended deer season; those rutting peaks are the times when bucks are most vulnerable. Since the first peak of the season in our county will normally take place during late October, it’s fair to say we are definitely in the pre-rut phase of the deer hunting season.  But, after a long chat with Krissy Jean Marral of Eco Creek Products, I was tempted to try a new tactic for the early season; I made mock scrapes.  

Scrapes are places on the ground where deer will paw or scrape away all grass, leaves and debris until he has cleared an area roughly the size of a serving platter.  They will always be located beneath an overhanging limb. The buck will chew the limb and rub his eye glands on it to deposit scent and urinate over his own hocks, leaving tarsal and interdigital glandular scents into the scrape so that each of his unique scent markers are present.  These scrapes are used as territorial markers and attractant sites for mature does to seek out and find the dominant buck of the area for breeding. Often times, other bucks with overlapping territories and will borrow the scrape, which will serve sort of like a community, dating site amongst the whitetails.

  Now Krissy Jean has been working on her theory of emulating and therefore stimulating rutting activity during any phase of the season with a three part system of creating mock scrapes.  Made the same as the buck would, clearing a spot beneath an overhanging limb. But then, spraying the overhanging limb and scrape with phase one of her scientifically proven scent, a few days later begin applying the phase two portion of the system and a few days after, employing the third phase of scents which will enrage the hormones and trigger rut activity amongst your local buck herd.  I gotta admit folks, I thought this lady was full of hot air, but agreed to try her system and her instructions to the letter. By the end of the first week I had three different bucks visiting my mock scrape daily and I just invited one home over the weekend opener with a well-placed arrow at twelve steps while he tended the mock scrape. Might be something you want to look into for your own stand site.

As always, I thank you for the opportunity to visit here in this column and if you have any questions or feedback, give me a shout at [email protected].