I don’t make mock scrapes because I think mature bucks will take them over and hang around the area. But there are several good reasons why I do make them. For one, I make and use mock scrapes as a scouting tool. I use these scrapes to spot-check each funnel to see how much deer traffic the area is receiving during rut movement.
A mock scrape in a funnel is a great location for a trail camera. I only use infrared cameras in these locations because I know I will be hunting here later. You never know if a buck you are targeting is flash-shy or not. Some bucks are even spooked by the infrared light from no-flash cameras. Yes, bucks can see the light from an infrared camera.
Some funnels are too wide to get a shot of all the deer passing through them in a single photograph. A mature buck could pass just behind your camera or out of range in front of it. However, if you place a large scrape in the funnel, you can bet that any mature buck moving through the area will put his nose in it.
If you don’t own trail cameras, you can still use the scrape for scouting by closely examining the tracks left in the scrape. Of course, you can only do this if you really worked up the ground within the scrape. Especially take note of any large track that shows up in the dirt on a regular basis.
A WINNING STRATEGY
This leads me to the next reason I like to make scrapes in all of my funnels. Sometimes a funnel will not restrict movement as close to my tree as I like (or need) for a close shot. When a mature buck passing through the area sees a large scrape a few yards away, though, he’ll usually take the time to walk over to it and check it out as noted, offering me a close shot.
The third reason I like to make mock scrapes in my funnels is because it helps me to get a standing shot at relaxed deer. As you probably know, mature bucks are constantly on the move during the rut. If you’ve ever tried to settle your sights on one of these traveling bucks, you know how difficult it can be. Many fine trophies have been lost because the buck would not stand still long enough for the hunter to make the shot. Of course, you can always try grunting to stop him, but that will immediately put him on alert. It’s always much better if he stops on his own.
The final reason I make mock scrapes at all my stand locations (in funnels) is to lure bucks over to my stand site. As mentioned in Part 1 last month, I don’t believe a buck will “hang around” the location of a scrape he has found. However, if a mature buck passes by your mock scrape at night or some other time when you’re not there, he won’t soon forget it. Then, the next time he’s passing through the area, the chances are good that he’ll come right over and check it out since he knows it’s there.
I also believe that if you make a scrape in a mature buck’s core area, he’ll keep an eye on it. Making a large scrape 15 to 20 yards from my tree stand has made the difference for me on several occasions.
HOW TO MAKE A MOCK SCRAPE
Experience has taught me that it’s always best to initiate mock scrapes in the late spring or early summer because you’ll need to stay in the area for some time to figure out exactly where to place the scrape(s) and it will take time to fashion the scrape(s) the way you want it so it will look real. If you wait until the fall to do this, you’ll obviously disturb the area, and this could be counterproductive.
Also, by making your scrape(s) in the spring, all you’ll need to do when hunting season rolls around is slip in and rework the ground in the scrape. You may even find that a buck has already opened up your scrape for you. I have several trail camera photos of bucks in velvet in early August working mock scrapes that I had made in the spring.
Once you decide to make a mock scrape, you’ll have to decide where to place it. Obviously, you’ll first need to know which tree you’ll be hunting from. After you’ve picked the right tree, locate the spot in your funnel through which most of the deer will be passing. That narrow piece of ground where most of the deer will walk through should be your first choice for the scrape. Keep in mind that it should be within easy shooting distance of your tree. It may take some moving back and forth to find the right spot. Also keep in mind that you’ll need an existing shooting lane (or one that can be opened up by trimming limbs) at the height you’ll be hunting from. You should always be able to take a shot at a buck standing in the scrape.
You may wonder: What if there is no suitable licking branch in the exact location where I want to put the scrape? I’ve found that it’s always best to place a new overhanging limb over the perfect scrape location rather than try to place a scrape in an undesirable location where a limb already exists. If there is a suitable limb or sapling hanging close to the scrape, bend it over and tie it or wire it in place. If you are forced to cut and hang a separate limb, make sure you snap off the vegetation and the small ends on the portion that hangs over the scrape.