Where I live in Missouri the pre rut occurs from late October to about November 7th. This is a time when bucks have a very high testosterone level, but very few does are receptive.
During this period bucks actively check and work scrapes, respond to grunt calls, etc. In the same area the majority of the does will be receptive from about November 8th through November 20th. This is the peak of the rut. During this time bucks rarely take time to work scrapes. They simply go from one receptive doe to another.
Most scrapes will remain inactive during the peak of the rut. In fact many will be covered with leaves, etc., and appear that they’ve been abandoned for the year.
Somewhere around November 21st throughout the Midwest most does have been bred. However, bucks still have an elevated testosterone level and are actively seeking receptive does. This period is called the post rut and bucks are doing more seeking than chasing and tending.
That’s why the post run can be an excellent time to hunt near scrapes. It’s easy to notice which of these signposts are being tended again as deer will remove any debris from the ground portion of the scrapes.
Hunting near scrapes can be a great way to tag a mature buck during the pre and post rut! In fact, the closer to the rut the more frequently mature bucks will use scrapes. I like hunting near scrapes during both the pre and post rut.