October 26, 2020
A whitetail scrape is a highly visited and useful means of communication in the deer world. We know that scrapes are mainly created by mature bucks but are visited by does and bucks of all ages equally. We also know they are mostly visited after dark.
Today, more and more hunters attempt to create mock scrapes, but find the marketing of scents and tools to be overwhelming. My K.I.S.S. method for creating mock scrapes not only simplifies things, it won’t cost you a dime.
Research has shown us that in creating mock scrapes, the use of deer scents does not offer a large benefit. In fact, a 2000 study found that a mock scrape with "new car" scent performed the same as a scrape that had doe estrous in it. The study also found that all scrapes were visited by deer, but the ones with rutting buck urine or human urine received more visits from bucks than any of the others.
With this information, I began to try things on my own to find what it takes to make a good mock scrape. I was able to conclude, through hundreds of mock scrapes and trail camera photos, that there are six keys that increased my success with mock scrapes.
1. Be Completely Scent Free
While studies show us that deer are curious and will visit a scrape regardless of the scent in it, research also shows us that human scent will scare deer away (with the lone exception being human urine, but more on that below). The use of rubber boots and rubber gloves when creating a mock scrape is extremely important since rubber does not hold scent. Additionally, you should be mindful of your ingress and egress and the wind direction when creating a mock scrape. Deer communicate and survive using their nose. If something does not seem natural to them, or if they smell what they know is a predator, they will not feel comfortable returning to that location.
2. Go Big or Go Home
I like to make my mock scrapes about four feet by four feet. That might seem like overkill, but you surely know it’s a scrape when you see it and I feel it appears to deer as a large, active scrape.
3. Choose an Optimal Location
In deciding where to make my mock scrapes, I always look for areas that naturally draw deer. My favorite spot is a field edge at the bottom of the field's downhill side. Deer will often enter fields at night in low spots since thermals push scent down in the evening. Having a mock scrape here can be dynamite, as it will be one of the first things a mature buck will check before heading off into the night.
4. Hide the Trail Camera
Much like controlling your scent, it's important to not introduce a gadget that just doesn't appear normal. Place your trail camera higher than a deer's line of sight or heavily camouflage it to help retain activity in your mock scrapes.
5. Provide a Licking Branch
Don't get hung up on the term "licking," but hanging something over the scrape onto which deer can deposit scent from their forehead, nose and eye glands is extremely important. I like to use a heavy vine, an inch or so thick, that dangles to about waist level. A vine bigger around than an inch can trigger the camera too often; any smaller and it becomes difficult for the deer to control it.
6. Relieve Yourself Before You Go
As research has shown, human scent will ruin a site. However, human urine has been found to be equally effective in a scrape as rutting buck urine. To me, that means saving a few dollars for something else while also allowing me to relieve myself afield without the fear of spooking deer.
READ MORE: Understand How to Use Scrapes to Locate Whitetails