The Question

Hi Ken:

The bush I hunt has a trail through the middle about 10 feet wide. Why is all the deer signs on the east side of trail? I’m referring to rubs, scrapes and so on. For some reason, there are no markings on the west side.

Thanks,

Dan Seegmiller

The Answer

That’s a difficult one to answer Dan, but deer are definitely creatures of habit. Where I hunt, I can tell you with 90 per cent certainty exactly under what specific trees bucks will build scrapes every year, though the rubs are somewhat less predictable.

Why the east side in your situation? It could be that the trees the bucks prefer—especially those with overhanging branches at the right height—grow predominantly on the east side of your trail, probably because of prevailing light penetration. There could also be reasons humans simply don’t understand, but that make sense to deer—nature has a way of replicating success. That’s why some birds fly thousands of miles back to the exact same nesting site year after year. It may be that bucks who are successful breeders simply replicate the same behaviour, including how and where they select their scrape and rub locations, year after year. It’s also possible that their acute sense of smell influences them in ways we don’t understand. Bottom line, I don’t have a definitive answer, but can tell you that where I hunt, the bucks are just as predictable in their behavior as they are in your area.