Becoming ever so popular over the past decade, and for good reason. Mock scrapes are an excellent card to play when you are trying to get a mature deer into bow range. Like any whitetail strategy, this card has to be played properly if you want to get the most out of it though.
When is the best time to make a mock scrape? I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer to this one. Deer are utilizing scrapes all year round, it is one of the ways that they keep tabs on each other. That aside, there are certainly times of the year when these scrapes are more attractive and get more attention.
Many bucks will hang tight with each other throughout much of the growing season. They are buddies all summer long, they’ve got each others back. But when the summer heat begins to fade, the days become shorter, and the temperatures cooler…they are well aware of what lies ahead. The growing is complete, the velvet begins to itch, and before long hard-horn sees daylight for the first time of the year.
We are closing in on that exact time within the next several weeks. Bucks, especially mature bucks, will go from bachelor groups to darn near solitaire during this transition. This is why your summer trail cam pictures can be misleading when all of a sudden they “vanish” after shedding velvet. Mature bucks will return to their “core areas” at this time and generally they will hang tight here through the pre rut. A mature deer is going to do everything in his power to make it known that his area is his area. He will have good tabs on all the ladies that live around him, and he will know about the bucks that step foot in there also. His goal is to eventually breed every possible doe he can in his core area before having to expand his range when the rut blows wide open.
Back to mock scrapes. Right now, and in the coming weeks is an excellent time to paw up the ground and trick a buck into thinking that another male is in the area and brave enough to mark it up. Location is a huge detail that you do not want to overlook when you are making a mock scrape. You have to ask yourself, is this scrape simply for inventory? Or is this scrape one that I am placing in bow range of a tree stand in hopes of getting a shot at a mature buck while he visits it?
If inventory is all you’re concerned about, I would suggest going straight to the destination food source. Whether it’s beans, corn, alfalfa, sunflower, it doesn’t matter. Find that one field that holds the majority of the deer in your area throughout the night. Once there, find the edge or corner of that field where the deer sign is the heaviest. Although you might not get a single daylight picture here, chances are high that almost every buck in the area will visit a mock scrape in a spot such as this.
If you are looking to make a mock scrape to later hunt over, you will have to change your strategy. Now you want to think of the areas that get high traffic during the daylight hours. This means you are going to want to move to a more secluded area closer to the bedding. A lot of times, micro food plots or highly used water sources are a great bet. These are the areas that bucks step out of bed, and head to first, before heading out to the destination food in the cover of darkness.
In creating your mock scrapes, one very important thing to consider is the licking branch. The licking branch ranks as important as the scrape on the ground itself. Not every deer that passes through the scrape will work the ground (most times this is handled only by the mature deer), but nearly every deer will hit the licking branch. A well used licking branch is loaded with the scent of all the deer in the area, and that is exactly what you want. When it comes to the scrape on the ground, you cannot possibly over due it with leaving deer urine in that thing. If you have ever got down and smelled an active scrape, they flat out STINK. Every time you pass your mock scrape, load that thing up with urine, and really get in the head of the mature deer using it and let them know that they aren’t the only ones patrolling the area.
Mock scrapes are another highly effective way to get a big buck to make a mistake. When used in conjunction to hunting major weather fronts, it might be exactly what you need to punch your tag this season.
Written by Brennen Nading