With deer season cranking up, hunters are preparing food plots, erecting stands and making plans for a productive season: plenty of venison for the freezer and high hopes of something to send to the taxidermist. 

The first attempts at breeding by whitetails will begin in the Carolinas in late September; hunters will begin to see a wave of rubs and scrapes around their hunting properties. They Dcan learn a tremendous amount from tracks, scrapes and rubs, but how much can you really take from physical markers and how much can hunters use to get a big buck in range?

Even though deer lack a highly developed language, they are social animals. Communication is just as important as finding the next food plot bustling with protein-enriched groceries. Within their social hierarchies, animals communicate daily in one form or another to establish dominance and develop relationships during the breeding season. Deer communicate more than by just a few verbal grunts, bleats and snorts; they make and use scrapes and rubs to communicate between and within sexes. 

According to Jonathan Shaw, the deer biologist for the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, scrapes and rubs are critically-important for deer during the breeding season, and hunters can learn from the presence of these features. 

“Scrapes and rubs are a way deer of all ages and sexes can communicate,” Shaw said. “A scrape is where bucks paw the ground, and rubs are primarily used to remove velvet from antlers, but deer are leaving scent markers when these features are created.” 

Deer primarily use scents to communicate between sexes and between age classes among males. Bucks will