Scrapes are areas where bucks have pawed the ground and left their scent as part of the breeding cycle. They often occur where two or more trails converge, where deer enter or leave agricultural fields, or in buck bedding areas.
Similarly, rubs are marks on trees where bucks rub their antlers and deposit their scent as part of the breeding cycle. Often they occur at the some locations as scrapes. However, they may also be found along a trail that a buck regularly uses.
During the early part of the rut, deer may return to the same areas where they made scrapes and/or rubs, but once the actual breeding part of the rut commences, they often stop using these areas as frequently or temporarily abandon them.
At a minimum, they alert a hunter that a buck is in the area. Skilled hunters can tell the direction the deer was traveling, when the scrape or rub was made, how long ago it was made, the stage the rut is currently in, and if the deer is likely to return by carefully observing scrapes and rubs.