Mock Scrape Mastery

Scott Bestul |

It took me awhile to figure out, but I finally realized why I love making mock scrapes so much. As a kid, I loved digging in the dirt. Give me a stick, a spoon, or a sand pail shovel, and I could entertain myself for hours.

Many years later, I became a deer hunter and was pleased to know that bucks did the same thing. While I still don’t understand all that’s communicated at a scrape, I do know this; they’re a big deal to deer….And not just the bucks that make them.

So, just as summer starts winding down—but while bucks are still in velvet—I start making mock scrapes. These are nothing fancy; just scuffing up some dirt under an overhanging limb with a hand scythe, breaking the end of the branch so it hangs over the scrape, sometimes doctoring the scrape with a little urine. And then sitting back to watch what happens, either with a trail camera, or by sitting in a nearby stand or blind.

Obviously, the majority of scrape visits occur as the rut nears, but know this; deer (and yes, does—especially the old nannies—investigate scrapes too) will hit scrapes in virtually every month of the year. Which is why I start many of my mocks in late summer; this jump-start, I believe, helps me identify the hangouts of some of the nicer bucks as bachelor groups break up and mature deer relocate to different areas than their summer favorites. Sometimes finding these bucks can take some doing, and mock scrapes help me shorten the process.

The photo is of a mock scrape I made just last week. It’s in the same neighborhood as a mineral lick where my cameras identified a pair of dandy bucks. But in the weeks ahead, I know, their visits to the mineral will decrease, and the mock is my attempt to keep tabs on one (or both) of them when they disperse to their fall areas. The camera in the background will tell me not only which buck I’m seeing, but perhaps where he’s coming from or headed to; important info that can be filed away into a hunt plan that may not be used until November.

Finally, a few tips from my best mock scrape setups. First, the overhanging limb is critical; this is the first visual cue that attracts a buck to the site. Second, construct the scrape in an area that already offers something (food, water, travel, security) to a buck; he is not going to run to some weird, uncomfortable place just to visit your scrape. Finally, keep working the dirt in the scrape periodically, to make bucks think it’s an active site. And when/if you run out of deer urine, use some of your own. The deer don’t care, and Mountain Dew (the “inspiration” for many of my scrapes) is relatively cheap.