October 27, 2016
By Travis Faulkner, OutdoorChannel.com
Finding ways to transform a buck’s strongest defense mechanisms into an exploitable weakness is a real game-changer. Strategically making mock scrapes is a phenomenal way to take advantage of a shooter’s sensitive nose.
This tactic is often associated with the whitetail rut, but it’s extremely effective throughout the pre-rut period as well. In fact, mock scrapes are an effective tool for pinpointing a mature buck, establishing predictable patterns, and generating shot opportunities from the pre-rut until the actual breeding segment of the primary rut.
Here are step-by-step instructions on how to get the most out of your mock scrapes.
Step 1: Stay Scent Free
Before constructing your mock scrape, make sure you take some steps to eliminate human odor by showering with a quality scent-free body-wash and shampoo. Apply scent-neutralizing deodorant and pre-wash all clothing with an odorless detergent. Always wear knee-high rubber boots, latex gloves, and spray down with a scent-killing spray. Try to avoid any bare-skin or clothing directly contacting the overhanging limbs or ground. A fresh mock scrape that doesn’t contain any alarming human or foreign odors will become active much sooner.
Step 2: Choose High-traffic Locations
Big-buck, high-traffic locations like the edges of known bedding areas, staging points, preferred travel routes and feeding zones are all prime spots to construct mock scrapes. Setting up a series of mock scrapes and monitoring each site with a game-camera will help locate potential shooters and establish daily patterns and routines. When hunting large tracts of unfamiliar land, having multiple mock scrapes scattered throughout the hunting area is undoubtedly one of the fastest ways to pinpoint mature bucks and figure out a productive hunting game plan.
As the season progresses and bucks start to focus more on the ladies, try switching over to doe high-traffic areas. Primary doe travel routes, bedding areas, and the edges of current food sources are excellent locations for mock scrapes during this period. Pinch-points, bottlenecks and funnels that connect doe bedding and feeding areas also are excellent spots to throw down some scrapes. Once again, make sure you monitor each site with game-cameras and, if possible, set the units to video mode. This setting will give you a 10 to 30 seconds of HD-quality video clips of bucks working the scrapes. Doing this will yield multiple angles of a particular buck’s head-gear, which makes it much easier to accurately judge his rack.
Step 3: Keep It Real
Adding realism to mock scrapes is the key ingredient and secret to success. For starters, always pick overhanging branches with several dangling limbs above relatively flat ground containing thick dirt. The licking branches need to be just above the height of a mature buck’s head. Next, use a stick to rake away all leaf litter and debris from the ground below. Make sure the scrape is oval shaped and apply straight non-rut buck urine to the fresh dirt during the pre-rut. It’s also not a bad idea to collect large-size deer droppings in a small plastic bag and scatter the pellets in and around the outer edges of the scrape.
Toward the end of the pre-rut period, you also can apply tarsal gland scent to the overhanging branches and doe urine on the ground. When you first start observing chasing and breeding activity, adding estrous doe urine and dominant buck urine to mock scrapes in doe high-traffic areas can be a lethal tactic. The key to success is to simply match mock-scrape scent-application strategies with the current deer activity and seasonal transitional period.
If you’re looking for a game-changer hunting technique, then you’ll definitely want to give mock scrapes a try. It’s a tactic that can truly change the way you scout and hunt mature bucks.