The most prominent event in the November woods is the whitetail rut, and in the spirit of the season, we’re thrilled to be able to share this fabulous video of a buck making a scrape. The footage was shot in 2013 by David Dargie in Andover, Massachusetts.
Biologists call the events you’re about to see a “full sequence scrape.” First, the buck approaches a licking branch, then proceeds to sniff it, chew it, and rub it along his head, adding scent from his saliva, nasal glands, preorbital glands, and forehead glands. He then paws the earth, depositing more scent from the interdigital glands between his toes. At 1:15 in the video, he squeezes his hind legs together and urinates on his tarsal glands; the urine then drips onto the scrape, adding more stink.
Buck scrapes facilitate breeding, but as our resident tracker Susan Morse points out in this article, it’s probably too simplistic to think of them as mere personal ads. Every deer that walked through that meadow in Andover smelled the scrape and took something from it, whether it was a doe learning about a potential mate, or a buck learning about a potential rival. Animals communicate through their noses, and it’s a complicated language that we can only tenuously understand.