When bucks start shedding their velvet, they also start making scrapes and rubs. This helps them with marking out their territory. Bucks will visit a good scrape line or rub almost daily; they really hit these sites during the pre-rut. You can see these starting around the middle of September, and they will get visited all the way through the post rut. These scent-marking areas are a great place to catch bucks on trail camera (and in the tree stand). Here are a few tips on setting up your camera on scrapes and rubs.
While making last-minute adjustments on your tree stands, scout for deer sign and find fresh scrapes and rubs. Remember to always go scentless when scouting and checking trail cameras. Scrapes and rubs can be found along any major trails, ridge tops or active field edges. It should be easy to tell if a scrape or rub is fresh: scrapes will have fresh paw/tine marks and rubs will have fresh bark striped from the tree. I have also heard a scrape with a licking branch above it will get used the most. I like to find the biggest active scrape or rub to place my trail camera over. My theory is the bigger the rub or scrape, the bigger the buck (although not always true).
Placing a trail camera over a scrape or rub is easily done since they are usually around other trees. The key to placing a trail camera, on either site, is to be at least 10 yards back. This way you will get the full buck in the picture. Placing the camera further back will also result in less-blurry photos. Make sure to not to disturb the area so the bucks will continue to using it. To bring even more attention to the scrape or rub, add some buck urine or deer scent to the area. It is still a good idea to make sure the camera is at least head high. This will prevent any buck from using your trail camera as a rub. I also try to center the trail camera so the scrape or rub is in
the center of the photo, this way you can cover the whole area.
Remember, when a buck uses these scrapes or rubs, he will be moving almost constantly and allowing very little time for the perfect still photo. If your camera has a multiple burst mode, now is the time to set it to the max. Having the camera take multiple photos in seconds will give you a better chance of getting that good, clear photo. Also, change your delay setting to 30 seconds or less. This will give you the best chance of taking that perfect photo. Video mode is also a great way to watch bucks in action. I prefer getting pictures versus videos with my trail cameras, but sometimes videos do a better job. With having your camera set up to take so many photos or video, it is a good idea to check it every two weeks or less as you will likely run out of card space or run lower on batteries. Also, having your trail camera aimed toward a licking branch can trigger extra blank photos on windy days.
Setting up a trail camera over rubs and scrapes can get you some of the neatest photos yet this year. As the rut kicks in, you will also stand a good chance of getting new bucks on camera as they cruise for does. Remember to stay scentless this time of year, as it could be the most important thing you do. And don’t forget to use this trail camera information toward your hunting strategies this fall.