Like an award-wining chef, your goal when making a scrape is to create a recipe that others will either take over or mimic. You want your mock scrape to both be claimed and worked by another buck, or have bucks compete with your scrape by scraping all around it. If this occurs, you know you have the attention of bucks in the area.
Before playing in the dirt, recall the past scraping activity in your hunting area. Scrapes vary depending on the lay of the land and the type of trees that are available in the area. Without question, the best way to learn about scrapes in your hunting area is to study them firsthand.
If you plan ahead, study right after the hunting season. Leafless shrubs and trees allow easy viewing of trails and scrapes, plus sign is still smoking hot. Investigate areas that exhibited high numbers of deer during the season, such as bedding areas and cover next to feeding areas, plus the trails that connect these high-density zones. This is where nearly all primary scrapes are located.
Take note of primary scrape location in context to the bedding and feeding areas. Note their distance from the trail and general size of the scrape. Finally, note which trees the whitetails used the most for their overhanging branch. Most scrapes range in size from a Frisbee to the hood of a pickup truck, but all have one common factor: an overhanging branch.
This branch is approximately 5 feet above the ground and serves as an above ground scent depository. Bucks deposit several scents on the overhanging branch, including scent from the pre-orbital gland found in a trench below a deer’s eye. They also rub their forehead on the branch, depositing glandular scent. Finally, bucks chew on the end of the branch leaving saliva-based scent.
For ground-based scent, bucks urinate down their hocks, which catches scent from the tarsal gland located on the inside of the leg. When combined together, these scents identity bucks in the area to every deer visiting the scrape.
After noting the recipe for prime scrapes in your hunting area, it’s time to put your recipe to the test. First and foremost, you need to be concerned about the elimination and containment of your own scent. A mock scrape that stinks of human presence will lessen or totally eliminate the chance for deception.
Without question, incorporate scent containment technology such as a head-to-toe Scent-Lok suit. You’ll also want to don scent-containment footwear, such as rubber boots and utilize rubber or latex gloves. Not only will surgical gloves keep your scent off of vegetation and the ground, it keeps the bottled deer scent off of your hands in case of the inevitable spill. Scent elimination sprays can also aid by being sprayed on boots, latex gloves and any shrubbery you feel might be contaminated from your work.
For hunting purposes, locate the scrape in a strategic shooting location, but make sure it is adjacent to a busy travel route. Before digging in the dirt, locate the perfect tree or terrain for treestand or ground blind placement, preferably within 20 yards of the site. You’ll also want to consider the prevailing winds in location to your ambush site for downwind concealment.
Finally, for mature bucks you’ll want to move away from field edges and situate yourself further into cover. Pick a location that doesn’t invade a bedding area, but does provide enough cover to increase the likelihood a seasoned buck will pass during legal shooting light.
Sit it out. A buck is sure to pass by sooner than later.