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Is it a Buck or a Doe Trail?

Jun 18, 2008
A scrape is usually a large ring or oval of exposed dirt that is about 6 feet in diameter. Existence of scrapes or rubs near or on the trail will usually indicate that you are in buck territory. Typically a buck passing thru his territory will check his scrape for other deer that have recently been in the area. Scrapes are often described as boundary markers. An experienced hunter as much time as possible in the woods because in the rut deer are moving almost all day.

One method of finding a buck area is to look for a rub line. A rub line is a wide-ranging trail that bucks will follow for years and use the smaller trees for clean-up their antlers of velvet. Look for a well worn deer trail with rubs and study the correlation between the trail, and the nearest bedding locations and food sources. In general the nearer you are to a bedding area, the better your chances for seeing deer. The rubs will increase your odds that it may be a buck.

The spacing of tracks from the center of the trail determines the size of the deer. Old heavy bucks tend to walk with their hooves spaced wider apart than does and yearlings. Deer tracks can help you settle on the size and sex of the animal with a little understanding and observation. Keep in mind that the size of deer and their tracks will vary from area to area.

Usually does will point their toes in the route they are traveling. Bucks; on the other hand, point their toes outward from the centerline of travel. Bucks often lag their hind hoof as opposed to stepping in the tracks that their front feet have made. A crossroads of 2 or 3 trails increase your odds for deer. Keep in mind that if the rut is on a breeding buck, it may be more likely to use this trail hoping to find a ready doe.

When exploring deer tracks in snow, try to settle on which deer is dragging his feet. Bucks will leave drag marks in leaf litter or light snow. Be careful not to read this the wrong way as all deer will drag their feet in deep snow. If you are engrossed in tracking a certain deer, it is advisable to get out in the early hours in after a night snow. Tracking in the snow works best after a fresh 1" to 2" snowfall in an area with good buck to doe ratios.

The personality of bucks also may help in deciphering the type of trail you are looking at beneath your feet. Bucks will more often be in heavy cover and travel with a purpose, normally in straighter lines. Does are the opposite as they tend to wander and amble through the woods. A good deer hunter learns the traits of persistence, dedication, and examination. Deer will use diverse routes at different times for different reasons throughout the year.

Fence posts and fence lines serve as established routes of travel for deer. Deer trails will often run along fences for great distances. This explains why you may discover shed antlers along fence lines. A trophy buck will often use wooden fence posts for rubs. It seems that a strong post gives good enough resistance that a big buck needs for a rub.
About the Author
Outdoorsman and Author Ethan O. Tanner explains how to decipher a Leather buck trail doe trail
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