What are mock scrapes and how can we use mock scrapes to our advantage? If you are looking to increase the buck activity at your favorite stand location, then try creating a mock scrape nearby. Mock scrapes are deer magnets if used properly, and you can use a buck’s internal instincts against them to bring them into range.
Mock Scrapes can be used to inventory buck activity in the area when paired with a trail camera, helping you gather the necessary information necessary to harvest the buck you’re after. If you’ve never attempted to create a mock scrape or you’d like to improve your mock scrape technique, here’s a breakdown of my mock scrape building process and a few tips to help you be more successful this fall.
Why are scrapes important to whitetailed deer?
Scrapes are communication hubs for white-tailed deer. Whitetails will use certain scrapes all year long but the majority of the “visual” scraping activity that excites hunters occurs between October through December. During this time, a buck’s testosterone levels increase and they begin to search out does and establish a hierarchy within the deer herd. One way that bucks show dominance and let other deer know they’re in the area is by making scrapes. While working a scrape, a deer leaves behind its unique scent that you and I are unable to identify but deer use these scents as their number one means of communication.
When a buck makes a scrape, he often kicks up the soil and licks and/or rubs his forehead on an overhanging branch. As hunters, we often look at the freshly kicked up soil and get excited but it’s the licking branches that deer use the most. The licking branch is the most important part of the mock scrape, this is where we are going to focus the most. Scents and attractants help but it’s all about the location and eye appeal.
A deer will utilize the licking branch to dispense its’ unique aroma from multiple glands in its head, such as the forehead, preorbital and nasal glands. As hunters, we may be able to smell a fresh scrape as we approach it but deer are able to determine which deer are in the area and if a doe is close to coming into estrous. Deer are attracted to urine odors but it’s the subtle gland odors that really get them fired up!
In summary, whitetails use scrapes to communicate. Does will let bucks know they’re coming into estrous and the bucks are trying to establish dominance in the area. All of this takes place in a secret language that you and I can’t speak but we can interpret the data and use it to our advantage.
When to make mock scrapes:
The most aggressive scraping activity begins in mid-October and runs through December in most areas of the whitetail range. However, deer use scrapes all year long. In fact, I placed a couple of Spartan Cell Cams on some mock scrapes during Memorial Day weekend and multiple deer were visiting them within 24 hours.
Scrapes that are used by multiple deer all year long are referred to as community scrapes. Finding a community scrape can be tricky because they’re not as common as smaller boundary scrapes. Community scrapes can be dynamite if hunted properly and I love setting my trail cameras over them to inventory bucks in the area.
Boundary scrapes are plentiful during hunting season but you’ll find that they’re less used and are typically smaller in diameter. It’s uncommon to see multiple bucks utilizing the same boundary scrapes but any scrape can become a community scrape if enough deer frequent the area and the scrape.
Our goal is to mimic a community scrape and attract multiple deer all year long, or at least throughout the hunting season.
I create mock scrapes all year long and will continue to refreshen them throughout the hunting season. Through trial and error, I’ve honed in on my technique and mock-scrape building process to ensure the effectiveness of the mock scrape and ultimately improve my chances of harvesting a big buck each fall.
Where should you make a mock scrape?
Choosing the right location is essential to creating a successful mock scrape. Creating mock scrapes is just like setting a trap for a coyote! My goal is to catch the attention of every deer in the area and this must be done with eye appeal and scent! Whether you’re hunting field edges or deep timber, the key is for a deer to see the scrape from a distance. If you’re hunting a field edge or food plot, this task is much easier than in big timber. It can be a little more difficult in the woods but the closer you are to bedding, the better. When hunting in the timber, I try to create mock scrapes where logging roads intersect, pinch points, funnels, or on the edges of a thicket (potential bedding area). Whitetails are creatures of edge, so no matter where you’re hunting, most of the deer will travel near the edges of habitat or terrain changes, so remember this and use it to your advantage.
Licking branches are the key to success!
This is the most important part! If you’re going to use a pre-existing branch that overhangs the field edge, trail, or area of interest, make sure the branch is between 45-65” from the ground. Take inventory of the types of trees that deer like to make scrapes within your area. Some deer prefer Beech or Oak branches and some deer like White Pine branches. It could be something completely different in your area, so be observant and utilize the licking branches that deer prefer in your area! If the perfect licking branch isn’t available, create one! Cut a limb or sapling (where legal) and attach it to the perfect tree with a ScrapeStick. To learn more about the ScrapeStick, check out this gear review.
Which Scent is the Best for Mock Scrapes?
There’s an abundance of different scents and lures on the market today but they’re not all created equally. I start my mock scrapes with scents and lures that I have confidence in and from brands that I trust. Here’s what I use but you’re welcome to use whatever scents and lures you prefer, just be sure to use the right type of scent at right time.
- Summer: Smokey’s Preorbital Gland Lure on the licking branch and RAW Frozen Scent’s Scrape Lure.
- Pre-Rut: Smokey’s Preorbital Gland Lure on the licking branch and RAW Frozen Scent’s Multiple Buck Urine.
- Rut: Smokey’s Preorbital Gland Lure on the licking branch, RAW Frozen Scent’s Multiple Buck Urine and RAW Frozen Scent’s 30+ Peak Estrous Scent on the ground below the mock scrape.
- Other options: A lot of people have success with Wildlife Research Magnum Scrape Dripper but black bears seem to like to chew mine up in my neck of the woods, so I haven’t been able to use them.
- Synthetic options: In some areas of the country, specifically CWD zones, deer urine isn’t legal. Be sure to check into the local hunting regulations in your area and consider using synthetic deer attractants instead.
Mock Scrapes Made Easy
The most versatile mock scrape system on the market today is made by ScrapeStick. What is a ScrapeStick? The ScrapeStick is a simple, yet effective product that helps you make the perfect mock scrape. You can attach the ScrapeStick directly to a tree with a strap (public land) or screw it into a tree for permanent installation. However, my favorite feature of the ScrapeStick is its ability to be attached on top of a t-post. Attaching the ScrapeStick to t-post in the middle of the food plot is a deadly technique to help you seal the deal on your target buck this fall! For more information on the ScrapeStick, check out this gear review.
If you’re not using mock scrapes you should be! Successfully creating mock scrapes is a fun and effective way to gather more information on the property that you’re hunting and the deer that call that area home. Not only can you expect more trail camera photos but you’ll increase your chance of bringing a buck into shooting range this fall.
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