By Eric John
If you are a hunter with a bit of experience in the woods and has spent a considerable amount of your time observing prey, then it’s likely you have sharpened your tracking skills. One of the ways that hunters use to keep track of deer is through the tell tale clues they leave behind.
Deer trails, rubs on trees and bushes as well as on the ground are just some of them. It’s an invisible way for them to keep tabs with one another.
If you’re a bow or rifle hunter, as a beginner learning to read these signs is crucial. There are few things in the woods that excite you quite as much as a mock scrape. If you don’t know what this is, sit back and let’s discuss.
What is a Mock Scrape?
A mock scrape is a rubbing on the ground where deer visit regularly. They do this to urinate and defecate. Other deer within the area will likely visit this spot and by sniffing the mock scrape, they can tell many different things about the previous individual. Such includes their health, status, how dominant they are as well as if a doe is ready to mate.
There are two main reasons why every deer hunters should learn to make a mock scrape. These include:
1. Attracting Your Quarry
Since mock scrapes are used by deer as a way to communicate, they will very likely visit this spot regularly. This provides you with a perfect opportunity to lay an ambush.
2. Offering a Distraction
Distraction to the deer I mean. The scents around the mock scrape are very enticing and interesting to the deer. During this time, they are usually not as alert and focused as normal as they assimilate the information left for them by fellow comrades.
This provides the hunter with enough time to make aim and take a shot without being overly concerned that the deer will spot you and bounce off.
Creating a Mock Scrape
Since we now know why a mock scrape is important to a deer hunter, the next step becomes learning how to make one. Let’s consider a few basic tips.
1. Picking the Right Location
It is crucial that you pick the best spot for the mock scrape that is going to increase your chances of a hunting success. This in part means understanding deer behavior. Deer like to travel using specific trails. That are located along habitat edges where woodland changes to open grassland.
Once you have identified a suitable path, the next step is picking a spot. Deer will usually check out mock scrapes in the early mornings or late afternoons. They will also do so regularly throughout the day during the rutting season.
The best spot will be near a bush along the deer trail. Find one with an overlying branch an under it create your mock scrape. The branch is used by the deer to place scents from glands located near their eyes as well as forehead.
2. Picking the Right Size
Mock scrapes should not be too large. In fact most are about 2 feet wide and are usually triangular or circular in shape. While you could come across one as large as five feet across, these are usually used by deer communities and are not very common.
3. Careful Not To Leave Your Scent
This is absolutely the wrong time to be sloppy. A mock scrape by its design is about taking advantage of a deer’s ability to pick up scents. If you are not very careful, you could end up scaring away your quarry. Deer will likely smell not only the mock scrape but the surrounding bushes.
One way to ensure you don’t leave your scent is through proper clothing. Wearing boots made of rubber is a good start. Your clothes should be in a position to completely mask your scent.
When scratching out the mock scrape, do not use your feet or bare hands. You can make use of latex gloves especially when applying the scent on a branch. Ensure that you do not step onto the mock scrape even with your rubber boots on.
4. Scratching the Actual Ground
Let’s now talk about how to make the mock scrape itself. One of the methods which I see with some hunters is using a gardening trowel. This is something that I wouldn’t recommend because you run the risk of introducing foreign scents.
With your latex gloves on, look for a branch around the area and use this instead to scratch off the surface. The branch will blend in to the surrounding as far as the scents are concerned. Once you are done with it, you can simply throw it away without creating cause for alarm
The hooves of a deer are sharp and can dig into the ground quite efficiently. Use the stick to take out any leaves, branches and debris as well as grasses and other vegetation. Do this until you get that rounded shape. It’s now time for the scent.
5. Applying the Scent
This is where things really start to get interesting. For one, the mere turning of soil is attractive to the deer. This could be because it implies the presence of a deer scrape. As with the scent type, you can use deer scent. This will trick them into thinking that another deer used the mock scrape.
There is method to this and you can’t simply use any scent you find on the store shelves. Take for example scents that are ridden with vanilla. Since the deer is naturally curious it may come in to investigate, but since the scent is of little use to it chances are it will move on to something more else.
Using code blue scents is way better because they mimic natural behavior as the scents are taken from actual deer. For example, you can apply estrous doe urine in the late fall during the onset of the rut. This will be more convincing to a buck.
You could also put preorbital gland scent from a buck on the branch on top of the mock scrape. This creates a scenario where there is a doe on heat that is being followed by a lone buck looking to mate.
Successful hunting requires a combination of strategies. Often the best revolve around understanding the natural behavior of the target animal. By using the right scents and learning to make mock scrapes, you drastically improve your odds.
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