Stand Sites for Mature Bucks — Scrape Trails

While hunters are afoot, older bucks are less inclined to use doe trails. Bucks 4-1/2 to 6-1/2 years of age are up to twice as large (heavy) as mature does and yearling bucks.

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Doe family trails (tunnels through cover) tend to be too narrow and too low for mature bucks to use without making sounds easily heard by nearby hunters, especially troublesome for bucks with antlers wider than their bodies. Soon during hunting seasons, then, these bucks begin often traveling off-trail (50% or more).

While northern bucks are making and renewing ground scrapes at traditional sites (during the latter half of October and the first days of November in northern states), a period during which they are vulnerable to skilled stand hunting, they spend little time on doe trails that are not established scrape trails. The few well-used deer trails within doe ranges along which dominant breeding bucks make and renew up to 30 ground scrapes annually tend to be traditional — the same trails and scrape sites used by succeeding dominant bucks for decades (or until the area is logged). Whenever a hunter has been discovered to be waiting in ambush in the vicinity of a dominant breeding buck’s ground scrape, having been identified via sounds, sight and/or fresh trail or airborne scents, though some older bucks may approach a nearby scrape regardless but with extra caution from off-trail and downwind, most older bucks will abandon the scrape and others nearby for the rest of the hunting season.

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