By Mark Kenyon
We’re not going to beat around the bush today. If you’re a serious whitetail nut, you’ve probably heard of mock scrapes – and that’s for good reason – as they can be an incredible tool. On the other hand, if you’re new to the idea of a mock scrape, you’re going to want to pay attention.
Mid to late October is the prime-time for whitetail scraping activity, and by creating your own scrapes now, you can take advantage of that natural behavior and use it to your advantage. Below we’ve outlined three ways of using mock scrapes to improve your deer hunting success, and then, we’re also explaining how exactly to make a mock scrape of your own.
3 Reasons for Making Mock Scrapes
1. Closing the distance: Bucks are naturally drawn to scrapes as they like to leave their sign there and then also check these locations for sign from other deer. That said, when a buck notices an overhanging branch and scratched up patch of dirt below, he’ll almost always want to head over and check it out. This is where mock scrapes come into play. While natural scrapes are visited most often at night, (85% of the time according to this QDMA.com article), if you place your own man-made scrape in an area that should be seeing daylight activity (regardless of the scrape), you can then use that scrape to deliver any passing buck into shooting range. For example, if you’re hunting a food plot that is wider than your effective range, you can place a mock scrape closer to you and draw deer in to that spot. Look at mock scrapes in this situation as stand optimizers.
2. Stopping deer: Speaking of stand optimizers, not only can a mock scrape draw deer into range, but it can also stop them long enough and position them properly for you to actually get a shot. Hunt long enough and you’ll know the frustration of watching a buck come into range but then blaze right through your shooting lanes before you can get an arrow off. With a mock scrape, you can eliminate that issue, as any passing bucks will almost assuredly stop at the scrape, giving you plenty of time for a shot – AND – keeping the buck’s attention off of you.
3. Trail Camera surveillance: One of my favorite uses for mock scrapes (and natural) is trail camera surveillance. During October, I make sure to place a few cameras on scrapes – as these locations will capture photos of almost every buck in the area. In my opinion, there’s no better place to set a camera in the pre-rut to get an idea of what deer are in the area.
How To Make One
Given that mock scrapes can be so handy for whitetail hunters, I’m hoping that you’ll get out there and start making some of your own – if you’re not already. Here are a few tips for creating those mock scrapes.
1. If you’re looking to create a mock scrape to improve a stand location (and there’s no reason that you shouldn’t do this at all your stands), find a branch that would be about deer head level, within range of your stand, and that’s ideally pointing towards your tree. With this positioning of the scrape, you’ll likely have deer coming in to the scrape at a quarter-away angle from you, allowing for a great shot, and keeping the deer’s eyes averted from your location.
2. Once you’ve got your licking branch chosen, scrape out an oval shaped area beneath that branch about two feet wide by three feet long, using your (scent-free) boot or a branch. You can then doctor that dirt patch up with some kind of commercial scrape scent, deer urine, or you can go ahead and relieve yourself in there too (studies show deer don’t react negatively to human urine).
3. If you don’t have a tree with a licking branch in the area you need one, you can actually plant your own scrape tree. Cut off a tree with the necessary branches at the right height, use post hole diggers to get a 1-2 foot hole to sink your tree into, and then fill it back in. Position the tree and licking branch in the correct direction, and then make your scrape beneath as directed. You can even affix your own licking branches at the desired height with wire, screws, etc.
4. If you want to further doctor the scrape, Don Higgins (a successful whitetail hunter and outdoor writer) recommends attaching a short piece of nylon cord to the licking branch and soaking it in some type of scented attractant – he recommends Smokey’s preorbital gland attractant. These rope scrapes, Don believes, draw more attention from local bucks. You can hear more about this tactic in episode #67 of the Wired To Hunt Podcast.