Making mock scrapes can be very effective in luring in the whitetail buck of a lifetime, but when making a mock scrape much effort and preparation is involved. In order to create a mock scrape that delivers one needs to consider scents to be used, utilization of real scrapes, mock licking sticks, human odor, placement of the mock scrape, as well as many other factors.
What is a scrape and do Whitetail Deer Communicate with Scent?
White-tailed deer possess many glands that allow them to produce scents, some of which are so potent they can be detected by the human nose. Four major glands are the pre-orbital, forehead, tarsal, and metatarsal glands. It was originally thought that secretions from the pre-orbital glands (in front of the eye) were rubbed on tree branches; recent research suggests this is not so. It has been found that scent from the forehead or sudoriferous glands (found on the head, between the antlers and eyes) is used to deposit scent on branches that overhang "scrapes" (areas scraped by the deer's front hooves prior to rub-urination). The tarsal glands are found on the upper inside of the hock (middle joint) on each hind leg. Scent is deposited from these glands when deer walk through and rub against vegetation. These scrapes are used by bucks as a sort of "sign-post" by which bucks know which other bucks are in the area, and to let does know that a buck is regularly passing through the area - for breeding purposes. The scent from the metatarsal glands, found on the outside of each hind leg, between the ankle and hooves, may be used as an alarm scent.
Throughout the year whitetail deer will rub-urinate, a process during which a deer squats while urinating so that urine will run down the insides of the deer's legs, over the tarsal glands, and onto the hair covering these glands. Bucks rub-urinate more frequently during the breeding season. Secretions from the tarsal gland mix with the urine and bacteria to produce a strong smelling odor. During the breeding season does release hormones and pheromones that tell bucks that a doe is in heat and able to breed. Bucks also rub trees and shrubs with their antlers and head during the breeding season, possibly transferring scent from the forehead glands to the tree, leaving a scent other deer can detect.
Sign-post marking (scrapes and rubs) are a very obvious way that white-tailed deer communicate. Although bucks do most of the marking, does visit these locations often. To mark areas they regularly pass through bucks will make scrapes. Often occurring in patterns known as scrape lines, scrapes are areas where a buck has used its front hooves to expose bare earth. They often rub-urinate into these scrapes, which are often found under twigs that have been marked with scent from the forehead glands.
How to Make a Mock Scrape for Whitetail Deer
The most important issue regarding the making of a mock scrape is minimizing human odor. You must wear rubber gloves, spray yourself with human scent elimination spray, touch as little as possible, wear rubber boots, and as you create it remember your success with a mock scrape relies solely on scent with the exception of the licking stick. Thus the whitetail deer hunter that makes a mock scrape but doesnít take precautions to minimize human odor is doing more harm than good.
First you will want to locate the area you wish to position a mock scrape to attract whitetail deer. You canít just position a mock scrape anywhere and think it will produce. Find areas that are travel corridors that are already holding active scrapes. Another key location are along field edges where whitetail deer are feeding to place a mock scrape. You should position your mock scrapes precisely where you want the shot to occur. Often times rather than making a mock scrape from scratch it is best to simply mock up the scrape that is already active and has actually been made by a whitetail buck.
A very important factor of making a mock scrape is having a licking branch. It should be about 5 feet from the ground, drooping downward and ranges in size from a pencil to a gun barrel. Ninety percent of the time a scrape that has been built by deer has a licking branch over it. In most cases, every buck that comes to the scrape will lick the branch or rub their forehead on the branch which leaves scent behind from the pre-orbital gland. Scrapes that donít have a licking branch near them usually donít last long. The licking branch is the most important part of a scrape. Every whitetail deer that passes by the branch can smell it and determine who has been at the scrape. Whitetail bucks prefer a low hanging branch verses a vertical branch. In some cases, they will create a licking branch out of a high hanging branch but a low hanging one works better. If the area you have a scrape in doesnít have a branch over it, removing a licking branch from an existing scrape or bringing a small tree in with a branch and creating your own. A licking branch is such an important part of a scrape that hunters should always have one over their scrapes. They add a touch of realism to the scrape and the goal is to make a scrape as realistic as possible to entice a big buck to visit during daylight hours. Your licking branch should be sprayed with Hunter Specialties Licking Stick Product so you can produce those odors needed to maximize the effectiveness of the licking branch. (Glandular scent used for dominance and territorial. Especially effective when used with mock scrapes on licking branches and rubs. 1 oz. amber bottle and atomizer.)
After finding the desired location to place the mock scrape, then select the location and licking branch selected. Use a stick to clear the debris from the forest floor or fieldís edge. Use the sharp edge of the stick to try and make the mock scrape look as if deer have been pawing in it. Remember to use rubber gloves and take that stick back to your vehicle with you. Donít leave it in the area of the mock scrape you are creating. Scrapes are a source of advertising within the whitetail world. Consider your marketing program with mock scrapes as one that must be done like an artist. You may even want to look at other real scrapes to observe their appearance and placement prior to making a mock scrape.
Locate the mock scrape slightly forward of center from the tip of the licking branch. Using a limb helps to mimic the appearance of hoof gouges as aforementioned. Also, scent elimination is key. Wear Medalist Scent Elimination Clothing, rubber gloves and rubber boots. You do not want the whitetail deer to smell human odors, only the urine scents you will leave behind within the confines of the mock scrape.
After you dress up the end of the licking branch, giving it a worked over look. You may elect to scent up the mock scrape you should use, Hunter Specialties, Scent Dripper which can be hung from a branch higher than the licking branch in an effort to release whitetail deer scent. It releases scent during the day. Ground thermal temperature and changes in climate cause it to shut off at night. This will entice whitetail bucks to visit your mock scrape during shooting hours. The dripper can hold up to 2 oz. of liquid scent (not included).
The Scent Dripper Combo set for mock scrapes, includes a 2 oz. bottle of Primetimeģ Premium Doe Estrus and the Scent Dripper Super Combo, which includes two Scent Drippers and 2 oz. bottles of Primetimeģ Premium Doe Estrus and Dominant Buck Urine.
The Scent Dripper will allow you to keep a scrape charged for a week without having to visit the scrape and risk leaving human odor. Another advantage is that they work on gas pressure. As the temperature increases they drip scent. As the temp drops the pressure falls and they stop. The result is leaving fresh scent during the day. Now, if a buck wants to meet the maker of the scrape, the whitetail deer must show up during legal shooting hours to do so.
Now it is time to apply scent directly to the mock scrape. I would suggest pouring an entire bottle of Primetime Dominant Buck Urine on your first visit with the same dripping from the bottle hung above. Then after a few days it is time to start pouring Primetime Doe Estrus Urine into the mock scrape. Initially you just want to establish a dominant buck is in the area making scrapes, and then you place the Doe Estrus Urine into the mock scrape so that now the local whitetail bucks believe a hot doe is visiting the site. This will drive whitetail bucks mad if done right. It also creates a prime environment for rattling, as whitetail bucks that hear you rattle will not only hear the fight but smell the fight as well. Donít over call when rattling or you will soon give away your ambush location.
Normally if the mock scrape is not used by the area herd then the mock scrape is in the wrong place. Mock scrapes serve as excellent scouting tools, for drawing a whitetail buck a short distance to a specific location and for holding them there long enough to get off a quality shot. Any one of these three things can make the different between success and failure.
Dressing up Real Scrapes Versus Making Mock Scrapes
It only makes sense that a real scrape might be more effective than an original fake one you manufacture. The real scrape has a real licking branch, real scents, real pawed ground, correct location, and whitetail deer that are using it. While it is great fun to make your own mock scrape sometimes its more effective to dress up an active scrape by dousing it down with Doe Estrus Urine or Dominant Buck Urine.
Most scraping activity happens in the open areas at night so hunting these scrapes is rarely successful as the deer use them primarily after legal hunting hours. What I have found to work best is to back track the scrape line to the deerís primary bedding area. Most of the time you will find a small opening prior to the bedding that has good cover around it. This is a staging area and will generally have multiple scrapes in it. The buck will usually visit this spot prior to exiting the cover right at dark. By prepping this spot with scent you can dramatically increase your odds of seeing the buck you are looking for. Most the time these spots will be used year after year so once you find one mark it and hunt it year after year unless something changes the deer routines.
If the scrape has not been worked then the deer may have detected your scent or have entered the rut and abandon the scrapes. In either case if you do not see fresh scraping activity let the spot rest a week and repeat the processes. If you see fresh scraping activity but fail to take the buck hunt there one more day then move to another staging area scrap in a different location. If the rut is close or has just started use doe estrus, if the pre-rut is just starting use buck urine. Doe estrus works from pre-rut through the rest of the season, but buck urine can be even more effective in the early to mid pre-rut. Once the rut starts it has been my experience that buck urine is less effective as the bucks are less territorial and roam more. So crossing paths with strange bucks is more common and contests are usually saved till it comes down to fighting over a particular doe. The doctoring of natural scrapes tactic will work in many situations but the more hunting pressure the deer encounter the more critical your scent control, wind direction, and overall approach and exit must be. Remember to be just as cautious leaving the area as entering it. Deer can smell where you leave after dark too and will make a mental note of it. If too many encounters of human scent are logged they will change their patterns. Some people have had success creating mock scrapes with scent drippers, this is a tactic that can work but I choose not to use it unless it is a last resort. When ever you use cotton, drag rag, or other scent dispenser you are leaving old scent and foreign scent out too. You can and should clean everything as much as possible, but their will always be traces of the container and old scent that was in the container. Thatís why I prefer to just use scent in a fresh scrape then hunt that scrape while it is active. I donít leave anything behind to emit scent. In the case I cannot find an active scrape Iíll make a mock scrape using a scent dipper that drips at dusk and dawn. I will condition it by filling it full of scent eliminator for 24hr.s then let it air dry outside. I will place the mock scrape in a natural staging area adjacent to a bedding area. I use the same precautions when entering and exiting and the same hunting techniques as I do hunting natural scrapes. It is a good idea to make the scrapes between 9:30AM and 10:00AM or during a rain. To create the mock scrap I place it in the staging area where I can setup down wind from it but also in a location that has a ďmock licking branchĒ. If there is not an overhanging twig or small branch three to four feet over the mock scrap it will not be taken over by a buck. Find a spot that meets the needs and using rubber boots and gloves pickup a stick 100 yards prior to entering the staging area, a stick around three feet long and fairly stout. Using the stick batter the ďlicking branchĒ then clean all the leaves and ground cover out to the bare dirt, form a two foot circle below the ďlicking branchĒ. Then pour a half bottle of scent on the ground and fill the dripper. Hang the dripper five feet or more over the scrape and leave it for two to three days then return and hunt it as you would a natural scrape. Remember to have fun and donít stress yourself out over your preparations too badly. After all it is recreation and is suppose to be fun first and foremost. An effective scent plan is a simple one and one that is effective but easy to use.
By no means can you expect to set up a mock scrape, set up a tree stand and simply expect to kill a trophy buck. You canít even expect the mock scrape will be effective. You still have to hunt just as you normally would, however a mock scrape can drastically increase your odds at luring in the buck you seek.
In the next few days I will begin to set up 3 mock scrapes and freshen them for the next few weeks. Iíll be reporting back to our readers the results of the mock scrapes. For the first two weeks I will use only dominant buck urine along with the licking stick spray. Then on the onset of the rut I will begin placement of doe in heat urine. There will be a follow up to this article as a study and it will be an honest report of what occurs.
I will set up 12 mock scrapes and keep them fresh for the next 3 weeks. On 3 mock scrapes I will use only dominant buck urine and lick n stick. On 3 mock scrapes I will use both dominant buck urine and doe in heat urine along with lick n stick. On 3 mock scrapes I will use the dripper system and lick n stick. On the final 3 mock scrapes I will use only doe in heat urine. I will be using Hunter Specialty Products only. Results will be collected on if the mock scrapes are utilized by deer, if additional scrapes are added to the area, place cameras on the mock scrapes to collect photos, along with any other results I can collect. Thanks to Mike Capps and Kevin Howard for their participation in this experiment.