Skip to main content

Make Killer Mock Scrapes Now

Crafting fake scrapes now can make your deer hunt — this month, or later in the season.

Make Killer Mock Scrapes Now

Mocks can attract bucks to an area, serve as killer trail cam sites and even make a good stand/blind setup even better. (Photo by Ron Sinfelt)

If you aren’t making mock scrapes by the time you’re reading this, you’re already behind the 8-ball. Scrapes, long associated with November rutting behavior, are actually visited by mature bucks (and immature bucks, and does, and fawns) year ’round and constitute some of the most important whitetail sign going. And mock scrapes, the manmade version of the real deal, are an important part of my annual hunting plans. Mocks can attract bucks to an area, serve as killer trail cam sites and even make a good stand/blind setup even better.

You should have been making mocks weeks ago, but don’t despair; it’s not too late to start. And the even-better news is, making mocks is both easy and cheap. Here’s how to construct killer mock scrapes and incorporate them into your hunting strategy this fall.


While that big, dished-out patch of earth on the ground gets all the attention, the most important part of a mock is the overhanging branch. Without this tree limb (sometimes called a licking branch) that hangs 4 to 8 feet off the ground, a scrape is nothing more than some roughed-up dirt in the woods.

I’m not smart enough to know what deer are telling each other when they rub, sniff or chew on a licking branch, but it’s important enough that I’ve seen every deer from the greenest fawn to the oldest buck on a property working on an overhanging limb. So, yeah, you need one of those.

When I make a mock, I look for an overhanging limb in an area that already sports good to awesome deer activity—an intersection of two or more trails, the edge of a food plot or field or a staging area. And if that limb doesn’t exist, I simply create one by taking a nice, stout, leaf-bearing limb from another tree and wiring, nailing or stapling it to a tree where I want a scrape to exist. Then I create the scrape beneath it by roughing up the dirt with my boot or a weed scythe.

Find the best day and time to hunt elk in your zip code

I don’t think the width of the scrape is critically important, but I’m generally happy with a 2- to 3-foot circle. What does seem to be important is eliminating any rocks, weeds and sticks; bucks like to scrape in dirt, and the richer and darker, the better.


It’s no secret that deer urinate in scrapes. That knowledge has been around since people first got paid for researching whitetails. What’s still unknown is what information is being transferred at the licking branch level. I don’t claim to know such data, but I have learned this: If you apply interesting odors (including urine) to a licking branch, deer will go out of their way to interact with that smell. Of course, it’s physically impossible for a whitetail to urinate on a branch hanging higher than its head, but tell that to a curious doe or buck. Put whitetail pee on a licking branch, and every deer that cruises by will sneak in for a big whiff. So, apply deer scent to your mock and it will definitely stand out.

Here’s a big secret: If you really want your mocks to rock, hang a foot-long chunk of braided rope from the overhanging limb. This is a tip I was lucky enough to receive from a few expert whitetail buds a while back, and it’s proven huge in the years since.

Not only do the ropes seem to attract deer better than the garden-variety licking branch, they also do a better job of holding and transmitting scent. And while real licking branches can break and render a scrape ineffective, a rope will last for years.


Once you’ve learned how to make mocks, it’s time to incorporate them into your hunting strategy. Here are three of my favorite uses.

Camera sites: In my experience, no camera setup will capture most (if not all) of the bucks in a given area better than a mock scrape. One of my favorite sites is on a field or food plot edge, as these scrapes are among the most highly visited, and one of the best tactics I’ve discovered is something I call “blowing up” an actual scrape; I walk the field edge, find a scrape already started by a buck, and when I find an uber-fresh one, I create two or three mocks right next to it, then douse them with scent. This seems to create a sense of competition, as if the original scrape-maker spots the new scrapes and thinks “well, who made this thing!?” And then things get really exciting.


Click to subscribe to Game & Fish Magazine

Hunting setups: While field edge scrapes are the most abundant and exciting, they’re often among the toughest places to actually kill a buck, simply because most of that scrape-checking occurs at night. Conversely, scrapes in the timber may not get as much overall attention, but the bucks that do use them often do so regularly. One of my favorite hunting uses of a mock scrape is to find a staging area—a patch of thick cover just off a feeding area—set a stand and create a mock within shooting distance. Even bucks that are reluctant to enter a field during daylight will often come visit a staging area mock an hour or more before dark, scraping and rubbing until nightfall.

Scraping on the fly: Although I do much of my hunting from stands and blinds I’ve set up long in advance, I also pull off many “hang-and-hunt” setups each fall. Hang-and-hunts are perfect for responding to fresh sign I discover when scouting, or when I realize a pre-hung stand is not in quite the right position. So, I carry a stand and climbing sticks to the area, scale the tree to hang the stand and hunt it immediately. Before I hunt, however, I create a triangle of mock scrapes just upwind of my setup. Any buck cruising through will immediately be drawn to the sight of the mocks and the smell of fresh dirt. This is the only time I don’t worry about the presence of a licking branch when I create a mock. Since this is a one-shot setup, I don’t need area bucks to come back for return visits; all I need is for a single, curious buck to swing in for a scent-check and give me a shot.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Sometimes you have to fish a bait that allows you to cover a lot of water efficiently. When you're on the search for bass that have moved into deeper water off the bank and away from obvious holding spots, a swimbait can locate them.

On the Search with Swimbaits

One of the best imitations of a wounded baitfish is the soft-plastic jerkbait, or fluke. A fluke darting just beneath the surface can be too much for a bass to resist. Rig it and fish it according to water conditions and cover to make this great bait even more effective.

Fun with Flukes

There are three models in SPRO's Outsider crankbait series: 55 (runs 3-4 feet), 60 (7-9) and 80 (19-21). Professional bass angler Jonathan Kelley goes over the specifics at ICAST 2022 in Orlando.

SPRO's New Outsider Crankbait Series: First Look

Professional bass angler Jonathan Kelley highlights the features of SPRO's new lures at ICAST 2022 in Orlando.

New Essential Series Spinnerbaits and Buzzbaits from SPRO

Syd Ribes with Sea Falcon highlights four new lures for saltwater fishing. At ICAST 2022 in Orlando.

New Lineup of Lures from Sea Falcon

Syd Ribes highlights two new saltwater lures from SPRO: Flutter Tail Shrimp and Cannon Ball Jig. At ICAST 2022 in Orlando.

New Saltwater Lures from SPRO

AFTCO's Matt Florentino highlights the features of the new Barricade cold-weather suit, a Best of Category winner at ICAST 2022 in Orlando. With Game & Fish's Adam Heggenstaller.

New from AFTCO: Barricade Cold Weather Tactical Gear

Three-time ICAST Best of Category winner Bubba covers it all with new knives set. With Bubba's Matt Kinamore and Game & Fish's  Adam Heggenstaller at ICAST 2022 in Orlando.

4-in-1 Bubba Multi Flex Cutlery Kit

The innovative landing net will weigh and measure your catch while it's still in the net. Best of Category winner at ICAST 2022. With Game & Fish's Adam Heggenstaller.

Award-Winning Frabill Witness Net 'Keeps You Honest'

Game & Fish Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Game & Fish stories delivered right to your inbox every week.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now