QUESTION: While turkey hunting this spring, we came across several places that looked like fresh deer scrapes. My hunting partner says they’re just turkey scratchings, but I deer hunt the same area and there are scrapes in these same locations in the fall. My question is, do deer scrape in the spring too? Why would they do this? — Thomas R.
ANSWER: Deer do indeed scrape in the spring. I have observed this same phenomenon numerous times in the areas I hunt both deer and turkeys.
My theory, and it’s just a theory, is that it has something to do with daylight.
Photoperiodism, or changes in the amount of daylight, triggers a physiological response in deer. In the fall, as days grow shorter, testosterone levels increase, prompting deer to begin rutting behavior like rubbing and scraping. Jump ahead six months and you’ll find a corresponding period with the same number of hours of daylight. I believe this elicits a minor surge in activity like scraping. But because the days are getting longer rather than shorter, it’s more subdued and doesn’t last long. Clearly more research is needed.