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White-Tailed Deer Rubs and Scrapes: Spatial, Temporal and Physical Characteristics and Social Role

Terry L. Kile and R. Larry Marchinton
The American Midland Naturalist
Vol. 97, No. 2 (Apr., 1977), pp. 257-266
DOI: 10.2307/2425092
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2425092
Page Count: 10
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
White-Tailed Deer Rubs and Scrapes: Spatial, Temporal and Physical Characteristics and Social Role
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Abstract

Antler rubs on trees and pawed areas on the ground (i.e., scrapes) made by male white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) were studied for 1 year on an 81-ha tract in the Georgia Piedmont. We observed 193 rubs and 70 scrapes. Date, location, physical characteristics, site and tree species associated with all new rubs and scrapes were recorded. Rubbing began 1 month before scraping or breeding. Measurements of xylem exposed by rubbing indicated physical differences between early and late rubs. Most early-season rubs had low visibility, but after bucks shed antler velvet the proportion of highly visible rubs increased progressively until rubbing ended. Frequency of rubbing was decreasing when the onset of breeding and scraping activities occurred. Buck scraping frequencies and doe conceptions peaked simultaneously about 2 months after the peak of rubbing. Certain tree species were rubbed frequently and others were neglected (P < 0.001). Most scrape sites had an overhanging limb between 76 and 178 cm above the pawed area, and the occurrence of these limbs was not due to chance (P < 0.001). Rubs and scrapes were not randomly distributed. Rubs were concentrated in areas with many small saplings, and scrapes usually occurred where the understory was relatively open. Our data are consistent with the hypothesis that rubbing functions to mark areas and establish dominance in preparation for breeding, and scraping apparently serves as a means of communication between bucks and does during the breeding season.

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