Creating Mock Scrapes
Mock Scrapes- There are certainly many "tricks" that can put a hunter on a big buck but fewer tactics have shown as consistent results for me as mock scrapes. In fact, of the many so called short cuts to big bucks, I've found most turn out to be only extra miles. I started experimenting with mock scrapes several years ago and now I've developed a plan that seems to get results from mature animals. It is not overly difficult to program immature deer to visit scrapes simply because of the curiosity of the animal. Young deer will often investigate many strange scents in their area. However, the same can not be said of the more experienced, veteran bucks that have been around for a few seasons. These animals require a very cautious approach that will not clue them in to a hunters "game". A successful scent strategy involves as much scent control as it does actual deer scent.
Scent Control Is The First Step In Making Mock Scrapes.
Generally, I'm very cautious with my human scent. I practice careful scent control before heading anywhere near a known scrapping area that may attract a mature animal. I feel that many people have the right idea and good scent reducing clothing BUT they make the mistake of wearing this gear in their vehicles on the way to the hunt area...... BIG mistake. Do NOT put on your "scent free" clothing UNTIL you've reached the hunt area. Once at the "hunt" area I grab my X-Large rubber lined duffel (36"x18" Madd Dog gear bag) that I store my clothes in and I step well away from the truck. I like to wear a Scent-Loc liner suit over the T-shirt and jeans I've worn out there. I also like to add another layer of camo carbon over the liner suit. Don't forget the Scent-Loc gloves and facemask!!! I'm always surprised by the number of folks that wear the coat/pants/bibs but forget this extremely critical aspect of the hands and head, possibly your biggest scenting concerns. After this carbon barrier is on I then add knee high rubber boots, I prefer the new LaCrosse Alpha Burly Sports. I then spray myself from head to toe with Carbon Blast. This scent reducing system WILL improve you hunting and the number of times you can access an area without tipping of the resident deer. I can't tell you the number of times that I've seen mature deer cross my fresh entry and exit trails and NOT be alarmed. Bottom line, the more serious you take this step, the more successful you'll become.
Where To Place Your Mock Scrapes.
Obviously you must put some thought into the mock scrapes placement. A random scrape on a field edge isn't going to do it. The scrape must be located in an area that has the potential to attract a mature animal. I prefer to take all funnel effects and topography into account. Maps and extensive post-season scouting can go a long ways in putting you in the right spot. I've found good areas to be on or near preferred creek crossings, timbered points that reach out into fields, wooded fence lines between standing cornfields, benches located along hardwood ridges, old logging roads, etc. We've had particularly good luck by mowing/cutting our own trails and preparing scrapes near "perfect" trees that will allow us to hunt the locations under the conditions that WE want. Anything you can do to stack the odds in your favor as opposed to the incredible senses of a mature deer is going to make a difference. The importance of the making of your own trails is that, as mentioned, you can route these trails past the trees that YOU want to hunt. You can then take ideal stand access and wind direction into account and really come up with some excellent set-ups.
When To Begin Creating Mock Scrapes
Another thing I don't think a lot of folks realize is that one of the best times for mock scrape creating and hunting is early. In fact, I've found that many hunters don't even consider "scrape hunting" as a tactic until way latter in the season. I've consistently seen results much earlier in the season then most hunters assume. I've found that mock scrapes can be made even before the bucks loose their velvet. Obviously at this time the mock scrape isn't much more than a licking branch but it can be very effective. As the season wears on and bucks loose their velvet some become very aggressive at these sites while others still continue to utilize the scrapes but never really get aggressive. Our bow season here in IL doesn't open until Oct. 1 so velvet movement doesn't concern me as much, but it is still nice to get a mature animal "programmed". As I've mentioned, many hunters don't begin to think about scrape hunting until late October and early November but it's been my experience that most of the prime scrape hunting has passed by then. I've seen an impressive number of big bucks utilizing mock scrapes during the first 2 weeks of our archery season to doubt the effectiveness of this pattern. It is indeed a pattern that shouldn't be ignored. The most critical factor in successfully bowkilling one of these animals relies more on weather (heat or the absence of) then anything else. As most hunters already know, big buck movement is suppressed when the temps are high. This is unfortunately the case with many early season hunts. That's why earlier I suggested trying to establish mock scrapes near creek crossing and other low lying areas. In these areas the water may give you a chance of getting that mature buck to show himself during legal shooting hours.
Creating Making Mock Scrapes Is Easy If You Follow These Steps.
Now for the actual process of making the mock scrapes. You already have your "ideal" spot selected and are ready to go in and actually create the scrape. First, select your stand set-up. It doesn't matter if your stand is within shooting range of the scrape because often times the buck will approach from the downwind side unless you have really limited his possible entry route to the area (manmade funnels or natural). If you've done this then by all means set right up over the scrape. If not, then count on killing the buck 50 to 75 yards downwind from the mock. You should be wearing all of your scent free clothing including gloves and facemask at this point. You must decide on what scent or scents you want to use in your mock. I've experimented with numerous different kinds and by far the most effective I've ever used was manufactured by James Valley Scents. In particular, the JVS Lethal Weapon and Wall Hanger Gels have been incredible. I prefer the Gels because they'll last longer. Scrape the area with your scent free boot until it is clean of debris. This area should not be large, less than 24 inches across. This will certainly get the deer’s attention. Make sure that there is a licking branch directly over the scrape. I also prefer that the branch not be higher then 5 feet. I'll apply one variety of JVS Gel to the licking branch and another to the pawed up area beneath. All you need to do at this point is monitor the area. Wait at least a week before penetrating the area again to check on your creation. But remember; ALWAYS utilize total scent control when entering the area. The only times I didn't have to be so careful with scent is in a few select field edge (standing corn) scrapes that I could access with my ATV. I would simply drive along the edge like a farmer checking fence. I would stop with the quad still running and apply sent right there from the seat of my ATV. Once treated I would simply drive off.
How To Create Mock Scrapes- Conclusion
Everyone has their own little "secrets" that helps them get on deer, but these tactics really have helped me get shot ops on P&Y class bucks. Bucks that I know I would have otherwise not have tagged had they not been so willing to show off their dominance. Try some of these mock scrape tips and tactics and see if they don't help you take that wall hanger this season.
Mock Scrapes by Hunting & Fishing Gear Review Writer Bryan “CornFed” Anderson (Pictured is Bryan with a trophy taken over a mock scrape).
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