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Deer Behavior

Making Sense of Mock Scrapes

by Don Higgins   |  September 22nd, 2010 0

The author's trail camera captured this buck late in the 2006 season. On the day this photo was taken, the buck visited this scrape four different times during daylight hours. Don thinks the buck may gross well over 170 inches.

During the summer of 2006, I had a chance to meet Bobby Worthington at an event we were both doing at Buckstop Archery near Brownstown, Illinois. Like many other avid whitetail hunters, I had become familiar with Bobby’s success in hunting mature whitetails through the pages of North American Whitetail. However, after talking with him in person, I gained a new respect for what he has accomplished and how he has done it.

It became obvious to me that Bobby is not simply a good hunter seeking recognition and fame for his success. Instead, Bobby is a great hunter that recognition and fame somehow found. His humbleness was refreshing. As soon as I realized that I was talking to someone who very likely could offer me information that might take my hunting to another level, believe me, I was all ears!

A couple of days after our initial meeting, Bobby spent some time at my home. Thus I was privileged to glean several more hours of whitetail knowledge from this gifted hunter. After our meeting, Bobby and I shared a number of phone conversations. It seemed that every time we talked, he would bring up the subject of mock scrapes. I became intrigued and tried to open my mind to the potential that this tactic might offer a serious trophy whitetail hunter.

As already mentioned, I’m not trying to insinuate that mock scrapes are a new idea. I remember reading about this tactic back in the early 1980s, and I’m sure it goes back way beyond that period. However, I had always shunned the idea of using mock scrapes for several reasons. First, I believed that any mature buck investigating such a setup would be on full alert. I also concluded that creating a mock scrape would almost certainly contaminate the area with human scent.

I have long avoided moving about the areas near my stands where I expect deer activity to take place. I believed that waltzing into such an area and laying out scent went against everything that had contributed to my past successes. On top of that, I was sure that a mature buck could tell the difference between real deer odors and any foreign deer scents that had been introduced into the area.

SECOND-GUESSING A MATURE BUCK
As Bobby enlightened me with his experience regarding mock scrapes, I was full of questions. I soon realized that not only was he taking a slightly different approach, but he had a few new twists to bring to the table, or deer woods, as well. Bobby doesn’t make a mock scrape expecting to bring bucks in from far and wide to check out the new buck on the block. Instead, he creates mock scrapes near his stand sites with a couple of definite purposes.

As most trophy hunters know, mature bucks do not always follow a beaten path. Instead, they often drift through a rather wide travel corridor. Bobby’s experience seems to show that a buck traveling through such a location is likely to check out a scrape located nearby. In a sense, the buck is not necessarily coming in just to check out the scrape, but since he is passing nearby anyway, he will come in to investigate — mostly out of convenience.

The advantage is obvious for a hunter who is unable to cover every option within a travel corridor. By pulling nearly every buck traveling through an area to an exact spot, you can cover a much wider area, even with a limited-range weapon such as a bow. On top of that, Bobby places his scrapes exactly where he wants a buck to be standing for a shot.

This much I understood and accepted. It made perfect sense, but I still had plenty of questions. How does one go about creating scrapes that the bucks will actually use? And how does one do so without leaving behind any human scent, thus doing more harm than good? Surely this tactic was only applicable in certain situations, I thought. Or could it have universal applications?

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