By: Heath Wood
As a young child, my dad would show me the signs that confirmed the presence of deer where we would be hunting. My dad would point out rubs on the trees and explain how the bucks would rub their antlers on them to get the velvet off, then again at a later point to leave their scent and let other deer know they were in the area.
Another type of deer sign that my dad first introduced me to was a scrape. Like a rub, my dad explained how bucks made the scrapes and how they left their scent behind in the freshly scraped dirt for other deer to smell to show that he was in the area. The scrape has been one of the most exciting yet educational points of hunting whitetail bucks that I have studied. As I became older and began hunting more on my own and trying to learn the behavior of whitetails, the fascination with scrapes continued to build as the years passed. I found that bucks make scrapes, yet so do does, and that several bucks use the same scrape. Then I learned that scrapes are used to attract does as well as bucks. Each time I gained knowledge on scrapes; my curiosity would continue to build as well. The number one thing that has held my intrigue is using scents and lures while making mock scrapes to attract bucks when hunting.
When I first began making mock scrapes and using scent and lures, I quizzed many hunters about their experiences and results. Some would say they worked and had success, while others argued that using scents did not work, with some even saying it was a gimmick for companies to sell more products. I remember the day I convinced myself that they did work. While bowhunting with a good friend, I made a mock scrape at the edge of a field. In contrast, we were walking to our stand sites for the evening. I stopped and scrapped back the dirt with a stick, then put a Hunters Specialties deer lure named Two Drop Supreme on the ground and an overhanging branch. To be honest, I had no clue what I was doing; I simply did what I had watched Tom Miranda do on the H.S. educational videos back in the early nineties. My mistake was that I did not make the scrape closer to the location that I was hunting that evening. When walking back to our camp that evening, I was surprised to witness a mature buck standing in my mock scrape, tearing the overhead branch to pieces with his antlers. The buck, unfortunately, saw us and ran off; however, from that day on, I was hooked on using mock scrapes.
The non-believers or skeptics to mock scrapes and scent usage argued that they visually did not have results from their efforts. That is where the modern-day game camera has changed the attitude and the game plan for many hunters. In today’s world, you do not make a mock scrape without a game camera hanging in front of it to catch the action. When folks saw that several deer visited their scrape sight, they quickly changed their minds about scent. It has always worked; we simply just didn’t have proof that they were there. However, having photo evidence that deer use mock scrapes was not enough because most of the activity happened at night, giving hunters no opportunity to hunt. Yet, if one will learn to use their game camera as a tool and be patient, they will see the combination of the game camera and mock scrapes can equal success during October and early November.
How And When to Hunt
It is vital to know that when making a mock scrape, bucks will be the most active at night. The other important thing to know is that it will change, and when it does, you must be there to make the harvest.
The first step in making a mock scrape is knowing where to place them. I look for the edges of the field, on an old logging road or path of some type where deer naturally travel. The next step is deciding which scent to use, and this is where it gets interesting. A buck during mid-October is becoming more territorial as the rut approaches. He is ready to leave his mark to show dominance as well as attract does. When I first make the mock scrape, I will hang a scent dripper such as the Buck Bomb Scent Hammock with a bottle of Doe “P” dripping. The Doe “P” gives an excellent kick-off to the scrape to show use and attract curious bucks. After I get the mock scrape made and the scent in place, I hang my Stealth Cam Fusion X Cellular camera to catch what deer are visiting the scrape.
The Fusion X is a cellular game camera that sends the images or video straight to a phone to observe deer activity. In my opinion, the cellular camera is the best thing that has ever happened to hunting mock scrapes. In the past, hunters would have to visit the scrape sight to check memory cards to establish when the bucks were there. It may have been a few hours or days before. However, it is possible to see when deer are using the scrape without leaving an unwanted scent around the camera area each time with a cellular camera. Not leaving scent around is vital; however, the game-changer is that it is possible to view when a buck is at the scrape in real-time.
When a buck begins using a mock scrape and continually visits, it is most likely in the middle of the night. After a buck begins showing up regularly, I like to switch my scent to the Buck Bomb BucRut scent. The BucRut is urine collected from at least 3.5-year-old bucks, making it the perfect scent to boost the attraction of other bucks to the mock scrapes. Bucks want their smell in the scrape and will return to refreshen when they smell another buck. Some hunters will even urinate in the scrape themselves to stir up the territorial instinct. Putting your scent in the scrape is the same as when another buck uses it; bucks immediately want to refresh with their scent instead.
As October continues and the rut gets nearer, bucks will eventually start checking scrapes more often, thus leading them into using them during daylight hours. During this time is when using the Fusion X cellular camera is a must. Hunters can observe nighttime activity without having to visit the actual scrape sight. When pictures of bucks during daylight hours begin to show up, it is time to slip in and hunt. There is only a tiny time gap of when bucks will use scrapes during daylight hours. When the actual chasing and breeding stages of the rut begin, the scrapes will stop. To catch the time between daylight hour movement and the chase, it is vital to access instant notifications from the Fusion X camera. Using regular cameras may result in missing three to four days of prime hunting due to not knowing the exact time when daylight activity sparks. By watching the Fusion X camera activity, I know the exact moment to hunt; when that time comes, I go in, spray my Buck Bomb scent, and hunt using my Hunters Specialties No Bull Grunt Call. I grunt periodically, imitating another buck hanging around the area. When a buck hears and smells another buck, he will stay close to the area, resulting in the perfect time to hunt.
Using and hunting mock scrapes takes patience to work effectively. There was a time when hunters believed mock scrapes were useless. Now, thanks to cellular cameras like the Fusion X, hunters can observe the action until the time is right and hopefully make the last move on scoring a trophy buck.