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  • Writer's pictureDylan Smith

7 Keys to Super-Charge Your Mock Scrapes

Updated: Apr 22


trail camera picture of mature whitetail buck on licking branch

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have more than likely noticed a major rise in the popularity of mock scrape hunting. I began bowhunting back in 1999 and instantly was drawn to the mystique of scrape hunting. Little did I know that initial curiosity would grow into what has become, hands down, my favorite and most effective deer hunting tactic.


My Mock Scrape History


I attempted to spread the word for many years, but the information I provided was often met with negative remarks or laughter. Most of those people often tried to poke holes in the mock scrape strategy and particularly the time of year I was building them. Now it seems to be widely accepted. It would be interesting to see some of those old discussions from multiple hunting forums where the skepticism on making mock scrapes seemed to build. What I would like to provide with this, are a few of the items that have not been covered as often.

successful mock scrape hunt

Without going back through the basics, I would like to steer you towards an excellent article written by fellow Whitetail Partners member Greg Kazmierski. Within that, Greg covers in great detail many of the key elements mock scrapes serve such as setting up mock scrapes, monitoring mock scrapes with trail cameras, and hunting over mock scrapes: Making a Reliable Mock Scrape Trail Camera Strategy.


I am not attempting to claim the invention of the methods I will be sharing, nor do I think it matters as much as some are concerned, but it’s been so long ago that I’m not sure exactly where the ideas originated. I was initially drawn to the scrape deer hunting tactic through an old DVD titled Make Bigger Bucks Hunt for You by Kevin “Hawg” Kreh.

mock scrape scent application

At that point in my life I was hooked on everything bowhunting and it seemed that I had read and watched just about everything imaginable as the steep learning curve was in its infancy. That did include actual scrape hunting and the methods behind it. However, that one video was enough to pull me in and I was intrigued by the reasoning behind the title and scent techniques within it. I think I burned that DVD out as well as a few other VHS tapes that were played weekly prior to the flood of material on successful mock scrapes available today.



A Successful Mock Scrape Requires Attention to Detail


adding ground scent to mock scrape

I was able to utilize the synthetic scents developed by that company, Buck Fever Synthetics, which was then owned by Hawgs Limited. The company has changed hands a few times over the years and I still utilize the products that have for the most part remained unchanged. I had previously experimented with natural deer urine scents and no other scent has given me the confidence and reactions that I see with Buck Fever Synthetics.


This is not a commercial and even though I have built a relationship with the company, I am not a paid spokesman in any way. Even if I was, scrape hunting is so critical to my preferred hunting tactics that I would not take the chance on any mature buck. As you know, mature bucks are a completely different animal. You can get photos and even have encounters with other deer, particularly younger bucks but that may not tell the real story. This is also where the naysayers would argue that mock scrapes only work for young bucks and does, not a mature buck.


It still amazes me how many videos I watch where people cannot resist touching a fresh rub or licking branch with their bare hands when describing them. I know, it can still be effective, but I guess it’s the meticulous drill of leaving as little impact as possible that has me cringing at the sight of it. I believe some of the methods and the application of them can make or break the overall effectiveness. The following are seven areas that I believe will guide you to increasing the odds of having success with creating mock scrapes.


1. Identify the Location Within the Location


trail camera picture of mature buck rubbing overhanging branches

There are many great scrape locations, but there are typically only a few that are truly offering the best hunting scenario and that provide a realistic chance at a daylight encounter.


2. Create a Tunnel Leading to the Mock Scrape


This tactic can vary, but the best way to increase your odds of a visit by your target buck at your actual mock scrape site during daylight hours is to provide the most security cover possible leading up to and extending beyond the scrape line. I like to do this work before spring green-up when possible. At this time, I like to locate the desired mock scrape tree and prepare the ground, opening it up to the bare dirt.


The identified tree for the future licking branch does not need to be an oak or preferred tree type. We are only identifying the #1 key…LOCATION! Trim any vegetation or limbs that will potentially become a problem when trying to remain scent free in the later steps. This includes preparing an area that you can return mid-summer to kill vegetation and create an identifiable path that leads bucks and does to the mock scrape.


daylight activity at mock scrapes

The cleaner path does not have to be short vegetation, as mature bucks prefer a bit of thick cover even in the form of grown up vegetation. This tunnel is more of a path that feels enclosed on both sides and a closed canopy above them. Create these on J hook or bends in the main cover that will allow you to hunt a wind just off the corridor that is almost wrong for you and almost perfect for him. This can be explained in much more detail, but your setup will be near the bend where bucks working the area will seek a wind almost directly in his face or with a sharp cross wind.


3. Provide a Superior Licking Branch


This is where I differ from some. I love using tree varieties that are natural to the area and this can be multiple varieties of choice. My preferences are oak limbs and preferably between 6-8ft. long. The length creates the downward and outward curve that I believe is more sought after. My specific favorites are Burr Oak and Pin Oak. Pin Oak limbs are a bit softer but also remain green and last throughout the season, but I find that deer chew on them more and the leaves do not hold quite as long. Either species will get you through an entire hunting season and beyond, which is key. Hedge are another surprising option for rough country that we often deal with. They are not nice to handle, but the deer love to scrape naturally on their indestructible limbs.


overhanging branch on mock scrapes

4. Eliminate the Competition


At this point, I will seek out other potential scrape sites that would be unfavorable if created. This is based on the stand site selection. Eliminate any potential scrape licking branches that could be an issue downwind of the huntable winds. Multiplication will occur, which will be evident as new scrapes pop-up around your mock scrape. It is ok to leave a few locations nearby that are in line with the favorable approach direction and distance. When creating a scrape line, try to avoid creating more than a few additional mock scrapes as this may be the difference in seeing the target in legal shooting light or not.


5. Building the Intruder Scent Profile


I have been hesitant to share this one over the years, because it can be an issue if left in the fields accidentally. I’m located in ag country and field edge scrapes and tree limbs encroaching into the field create a problem for the farmers. However, they become nighttime destination food source scrapes that get worked heavily. I go in immediately following the fall harvest and attach a burr oak limb to the existing perennial scrapes along field edges.


mock scrapes along field edge

These will be obvious and typically are broken off multiple years and have a good community scrape the size of a car hood. The key to this is to get as far away from the final scrape destination as possible (This allows for scent profiles from far enough away that will appear as intruder bucks and does that are not familiar to the deer you are hunting). The oak limb is brought in, but does not have to be from an existing scrape (Must be as scent free as possible-rubber gloves, boots, etc.). They are taken over quickly and will soon match the same scent profiles as the existing limb that more than likely would not have lasted through a season.


If the field edge licking branch is durable and you were unable to bring in a desirable limb, by all means, the lower quality worked limb can also be killer. That’s actually the method I utilized before I began bringing in a preferred limb. (This concept I modified from another small company I knew of that was relocating rub posts from high fenced operations and selling the cellophane wrapped posts to far and away locations.)


6. Relocate the Final Mock Scrape Location


The relocated oak has had time to build the scent profile from the field edge scrape by the end of September. I will relocate the existing low-quality limb and the oak transplanted limb with one cut, since they are attached already. This removes the old limb that also helps the farmer in clearing it from the edge. Scent control is very much a priority when doing this, but it is also recommended to do this on a rainy day and with the right wind conditions to relocate into your already established mock scrape. Once at the desired scrape location, miles away typically, the limb is then re-attached to possibly a weaker limb over the established worked ground scrape completed in the summer.


7. Work Scrape Line as Conditions Allow


The new scrape can be left alone to be taken over, or my preference is to apply a synthetic scent to the ground as well as the key pre-orbital forehead gland scent for the licking branch. The additional application starts out as a curiosity scent, but with time, the intruder is not located and it gives the dominant buck no choice but to seek him out in the daylight. At this point (late September on) I will not visit the scrape location unless conditions are ideal. Some years we get wet conditions or strong winds more than others, so it is not consistent from year to year. This is only for applying more scent, but if the conditions are not favorable, do not risk it. If hunting in the area, that is also a great time to freshen the scrapes through the season.


I mentioned does earlier for a reason. This is, in my opinion, the main reason bucks routinely visit multiple scrapes, but there is much more to be learned and I by no means feel like I have it all figured out. They are the keys to this form of communication and the relation to when they are coming into estrous. When does routinely visit your scrape year-round, you know you have succeeded. I feel that the science behind scrapes could become an entirely different topic and one that would be suited for the experts.


The information I shared only reflects what has worked for me. I realize this may be dependent upon my geographic location and may not be replicated across the whitetail’s range. It is a tactic that I hope you all explore at a minimum. It is such a rewarding experience to turn the table a bit and allow bucks to hunt you.


hunting mock scrapes successfully

1 Comment


Guest
Apr 22

Great article Dylan. Proof is on ur wall!!

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