Every hunter’s technique is just as unique as the hunter himself, although the tools are generally the same. A mock scrape is one such tool. Not all hunters decide to utilize them, and some have good reason not to. Others may decide to create one, but in turn, simply scare away what little deer life they have in the area. No matter the hunting skill level that you possess, it is highly recommended that you first examine the area you intend to hunt.
Deer populations may be higher than the amount of hunters that are hunting them, so they flourish in certain areas. Other areas the hunters outnumber the deer, so additional tools and techniques are needed to lure the deer in your direction. Examine the area, talk to other hunters, find out what tools they use that are effective. If the area is overrun with scrapes it might not make much sense to add another one. If there aren’t any scrapes in the area, it might not be worth adding one, unless there are some rubs, or other signs of deer life in the area.
Scout the area first to determine if there is deer activity. If you spot a deer or see a clear game trail headed toward a creek or field start following the path. Chances are that some of the trees alongside this path with also have a rub or two. Venture away from the path just slightly and you may find an old scrape. If none are to be found, it could simply mean that they are covered over.
As the fall season begins to take hold in the area, the bucks will begin to shed the velvet from their antlers. This is the time that their testosterone levels begin to rise. They won’t be fully ready for mating but the season has begun. With the rising testosterone levels, they also begin getting irritated with the other bucks in the group. This irritation is what causes buck fights. As the testosterone levels rise they will begin to move further away from the group in search of their own home.
On the journey home, the buck will begin to make scrapes, marking the area as his own. This process also alerts any passing doe that there is a buck ready and able to mate. Despite the fact that the does are not quite ready to mate yet, they will still mark the area and may continue to do so throughout the entire rut season.
To begin the process a buck will locate a licking branch. This branch will hang just above his head, and have a clear area beneath. Grabbing the branch he will twist and chew away at the tip of the branch just enough to deposit saliva, and pre-orbital hormones to leave a scent. Then the deer will back up and use his front legs to clear a 3-foot circular area. Once this process is complete the final step is to mark the spot with his urine. He will not completely relieve his bladder, but will deposit just enough to leave a distinctive smell.
Recreating a scrape is not impossible, but creating a working mock scrape can be a challenge. Buck urine and even doe urine is available for purchase to assist in the making the area more effective. Although, you need to consider if the area has been overrun with hunters who are using this same chemical. The deer in the area may have become accustomed to the smell and will know right away that the area is a trap. They will run the opposite direction instead of standing still for you to take the shot. In a case like this, it may be best to create the scrape but leave out the scent-applying part.
Keep in mind that the deer will use their nose to determine if the mock scrape is legitimate or not. They will be able to detect the smallest amount of odor that isn’t natural. Wear gloves, rubber boots, and your hunting gear. Make sure that everything has had odor eliminator applied to it. Don’t go into the woods wearing your running shoes, that have gum stuck to the bottom and Fido’s present from the driveway. The deer will smell this immediately and run.
Locate an area with a low hanging branch. If there is any growth beneath it either clear it or look for another space that is better suited for the job. If there aren’t any low hanging branches in the area consider grabbing one and McGiver the branch to hang lower. Zip ties work great for this purpose they are durable, and easily capable of applying scent blocker to them.
Scuff up the end of the branch by twisting off the end of it, and scraping away a bit of the bark from the end. Manufacturers sell a pre-orbital gland lure that can be applied to the end of the branch to mimic the smell that they would leave naturally. Some of these can be quite expensive, so weigh the options and results of other local hunters to determine if this step is necessary.
Use your boot to scrape away the leaves and debris directly below the branch. Create a circle approximately 3 feet in diameter, making sure to expose the earth below. A buck will generally urinate in this area, and in some cases, the manufactured scents work great, in others, they do not again ask around for what works.
You may wish to install a camera to monitor the site, although some deer may have become aware of these devices and know right away that this is a mock set up and won’t come anywhere near the area. Consider installing the camera higher in the trees to avoid being spotted by the deer, and potential thieves.
Repeat the process in a few areas and wait. If you are successful the scrapes will draw attention and begin attracting bucks and does in a matter of days. Return every few days to determine if the area is working.