Wondering how to make mock scrapes? Here are some things to consider.
Deer hunting newcomers often don’t realize just how many baiting methods exist in the sport.
From decoys to deer calls, antler rattles to scented baits, there are many ways to lure deer into your rifle’s crosshairs, and different hunters swear by each method for getting the job done.
Another baiting method is the “mock scrape,” which may sound like a special kind of antler rattling, but is actually completely different. In reality, mock scrapes are meant to simulate what a buck does when he marks his territory. A buck will generally wish to mark territory near a tree.
Once he finds his optimal overhanging branch – it must be in his reach – the buck will scrape the ground beneath the tree with his front hooves, then urinate on the spot.
In addition to the actual urine scent, the scraping ritual activates the buck’s tarsal glands which are located on his ankles. More accurately, his urine activates the glands, which release a further territory-marking scent. Finally, the buck licks, bites, chews, or gobbles the branches above his scrape, spreading more of his scent over the spot before departing.
Sounds complicated, huh? (Not to mention a little bit nasty.) But scrapes can be a good way of tracking or finding bucks, and mock scrapes can be an even better way of baiting bucks to your location. A buck who is marking his territory will want to investigate another territory marker from another buck, and a good mock scrape can turn into the perfect death trap for your big season target.
A good mock scrape routine will essentially try to recreate each step of a buck’s territory marking ritual. We obviously don’t have access to a buck’s tarsal glands, and no one expects a hunter to start nibbling on an overhanging branch, but a convincing mock scrape doesn’t have to be a perfect replica of the genuine article. Instead, you have to rebuild the basic elements of the scrape. A small shovel or rake can be a useful tool for recreating what a buck does to the ground with his hooves. And deer baiting products, including urine and gland lures, are on the market specifically to help you make a convincing mock scrape. Finally, clip a few branches from the overhanging tree in your best simulation of a buck bite.
Ultimately, the key to creating a good mock scrape is scent: liberal deer scent, whether your preference is urine, gland lure, or something else, and a complete absence of human scent. Using scent control is important under any deer hunting circumstances, but it is particularly vital for making a mock scrape.
A buck will investigate a scrape if he feels that another buck is creating a territory marker or somehow challenging his territory. However, if he picks up on human scent, he will forget about territory and head for the hills. Trust us when we say that bucks will only immediately be able to tell the difference between a convincing human scrape and a genuine buck scrape if he smells your presence, so don’t waste your time and deer bait on a mock scrape only to have it undone by your scent. Douse yourself in scent control and be careful to leave no trace of yourself at the site.