A Guide to Mock Scrape Scents
Mock deer scrapes are a great technique that, when used properly, can increase your chances for success this fall. Besides placement, the success of your mock scrape will depend on the types of scents you put in it and when you use those scents. Mock scrape scents are the key needed to ignite the figurative engine in a buck’s quest for dominance. To make an effective mock scrape that will attract a mature buck, the proper scents must be deployed.
How to Make a Mock Scrape
Before we dive into mock scrape scents, we must first know how to actually make a mock scrape. Many hunters simply walk into the woods, remove some leaves in a circle on the forest floor and saturate that area with doe urine to attract a buck. Then they wonder why they didn’t see a buck at that scrape. In order to properly construct a mock scrape, one must realize that they are emulating an action of a mature buck. This means being completely scent free from head to toe by wearing rubber boots and rubber gloves and wearing scent control clothing, or at least spraying down with a scent eliminator. To avoid disturbing the deer in the area, build your mock scrapes in mid morning or during the middle of the day when deer will be the least active.
Once you have ridded yourself the best you can of human odor slip in the area you want to make your mock scrape. Usually this is an area where deer frequent or pass through regularly. Find a spot with a low hanging limb or branch for the licking branch of the scrape. The licking branch is the single most important part of a deer scrape as it holds a tremendous amount of information left by the buck via scent deposit. If there are no low hanging limbs, you can cut a branch off another tree and tie it to the preferred tree with a zip tie 4-5 feet off the ground. If you plan on hunting directly over the mock scrapes, take into consideration where you will place your treestand. Try to position yourself downwind of the scrape if possible or downwind of a trail or travel route close by that you think the buck will access to get to the scrape. Finally, with a stick or a rake expose the ground beneath the licking branch in a 2-3 foot wide circle to serve as the actual scrape. Now, it is time to apply your mock scrape scents.
What Scents Work Best for Mock Scrapes?
When trying to dupe a buck into thinking that your mock scrape actually belongs to a real deer, it is best to use the same scents he does. Ideally this means scent from the deer's glands: interdigital gland, tarsal gland and forehead gland as well as buck urine. Each one of those particular glands serves a purpose when a buck makes a scrape because he is essentially leaving his fingerprint when he deposits scent from those glands in a deer scrape. Any known deer odor will peak the buck’s curiosity and cause him to investigate, but you want to create a sense of intrusion that another buck has entered his core area. This means applying all mock scrape scents and all these scents are available for purchase. We will cover tips and information about each of these scents chronologically in the order in the order in which a buck makes a scrape.
Tink’s Power Scrape mock scrape starter is a wonderful product for starting your mock scrape early in the season. This product contains a mixture of all the scents you will naturally find in a scrape and comes in an easy-to-use spray bottle. This particular mock scrape scent isn’t quite as strong smelling as what you may expect, however this is done for a reason. When you begin your mock scrape in late summer or early fall the bucks are not yet rutting, which means they aren’t releasing as much scent as they will in a few short weeks. Power Scrape will help get your mock scrape started and once it is active you can switch to another product suck as Tink’s Magentics or Tink’s #69 once the deer rut kicks into high gear.
Mock Scrape Scents: Forehead Scent
When most hunters think of forehead scent, they automatically think of buck rubs, and for good reason. When a buck makes a rub, his forehead gland deposits scent on the tree he was rubbing. This works as a territory marker to other bucks and stimulates breeding interest in does. The same applies to scrapes too. The licking branch is the most important part of a scrape because it receives the most interaction from other deer. Of all the deer, including does, that visit a scrape, very few actually urinate in the scrape. Most simply stop, work over the licking branch, and then move on. It seems like an innocent action, but in doing so that deer is communicating with the other deer that will work that scrape.
To avoid forfeiting the idea of deception, the forehead gland scent should be applied lightly, just like any other scent. Since this scent is primarily deposited and used by mature bucks, applying too much of this scent will easily tip them off and will avoid the scrape and the entire area all together. This scent should of course be applied to the overhanging branch, but can also be applied to the actual tree or surrounding vegetation to ensure the odor permeates the woods. Since you will be handling the licking branch, be sure to wear rubber gloves to avoid leaving human scent on the branch.
Mock Scrape Scents: Interdigital Scent
Few hunters know of interdigital scent simply because few hunters know about the interdigital gland. The interdigital gland is located between the deer’s hooves and secretes a waxy substance wherever the deer walks. This is how does find their fawns when they are just weeks old and how bucks track does during the rut. When a buck first makes a scrape he paws the ground with his foot. In doing so, he is depositing scent from the interdigital gland in the freshly exposed earth. Just like any other scent belonging to an individual whitetail, the scent is specific to that deer only, just like his own fingerprint.
Interdigital scent can perhaps best be used to attract bucks to your scrape. As mentioned, deer use interdigital scent to track one another, and what better way to make sure deer visit your scrape? This tactic works particularly well if you are hunting directly over the scrape. Find a trail or travel route that bucks are likely to use during the pre rut, when scraping is most common, and place a few drops of interdigital gland along the trail every couple of feet leading up to your scrape. It doesn’t take much; less is more when applying deer scents to attract older bucks. This should bring your buck on a bee line, with nose to the ground, all the way to your scrape. With his attention focused solely on the interdigital scent left on the ground, it should give you ample time to position yourself and draw your bow undetected. Interdigital scents usually come in spray bottles and 2-3 sprays directly in your mock scrape should suffice.
Mock Scrape Scents: Buck Urine
Buck urine is an obvious scent to apply to a deer scrape, and is the only scent that should be applied liberally to the actual scrape. Bucks will simply visit your mock scrape to investigate the odor of the “buck” that urinated in the scrape. Once a buck peels his velvet in late August his testosterone levels rise every day (peaking around November 1) and he becomes increasingly territorial, and buck urine is a great way to entice him to visit your mock scrapes. Applying several drops directly in the scrape will simulate a buck urinating in the scrape.
Mock Scrape Scents: Tarsal Gland
Whitetails live in a world dominated by scent. They rely on their olfactory system to find food, avoid danger and communicate with each other. In the world of whitetail communication, there is no gland more important that the tarsal gland. The scent of a deer’s tarsal gland IS that deer’s figurative fingerprint. It reveals that deer’s age, sex, social status and readiness or willingness to breed, depending on sex. When two deer first meet each other, the first thing they do is sniff the other’s tarsal gland. This is the whitetail's way of shaking hands and greeting one another. So, there is no better scent to apply to a mock scrape than tarsal gland scent.
Tarsal gland scent works wonders to a mock scrape because of the action a buck performs when urinating in a scrape. When a buck does urinate in a scrape he also urinates directly on his tarsal glands rubs them together. This is known as “rub-urination” and is an action that nearly all dominant bucks make when they first make a scrape or visit a scrape that has been made by an intruder buck. If you don’t apply any other scent to your mock scrapes, be sure to apply tarsal gland. The tarsal gland is musky and extremely pungent, so it shouldn’t take much. You will enjoy the results. Apply it to your mock scrape until you can smell it, if you can smell it standing directly over the scrape, deer should have no problem finding it.
When to Make Mock Scrapes?
When deer hunters think of mock scrapes they think of the hunting season, because that’s when bucks are most likely to be scraping and will respond the best to mock scrapes. Mock scrapes can actually be started in late summer (mid to late August) to condition bucks to the area you will be hunting them sooner. Deer communicate through scrapes year round, and creating a sense of intrusion in a buck’s core area during this time is a great tactic for early season hunting. When starting a mock scrape this early, be sure to be very conservative with your scent applications, especially the tarsal and forehead scents. Those scents don’t become prevalent until the rut and will appear unnatural for a buck to smell them during the summer causing him steer clear of your scrape.
Freshening Real Scrapes with Mock Scrape Scents
Mock scrape scents don’t have to be used exclusively with mock scrapes. If you find a natural scrape, you can take over the scrape and encourage day time use by deploying your scents in the scrape. Be sure to take into consideration the time of year you are going to be taking over the scrape. The majority of scraping activity occurs the last two weeks October and the first week of November in the northern and middle states. After that, scraping activity diminishes quickly during the chasing phase of the rut and briefly returns following the breeding season. It’s best to only refresh real scrapes when bucks are actively scraping.
Experimenting with Different Mock Scrape Scents
Unless you physically see bucks taking over and working your mock scrapes, it becomes really difficult to know whether or not your mock scrapes are working. However, by placing trail cameras over your mock scrapes and experimenting with different scents at your scrapes, you can have a better understanding of how the deer in your area react to mock scrapes.
Just like the construction of a mock scrape, scent elimination is critical when setting up a trail camera over a mock deer scrape. Also, if possible, place a camera that utilizes infrared technology to avoid the game spooking flash of standard trail cameras. If you own multiple trail cameras you can really conduct some beneficial experiments by applying different scents to different scrapes. You can then determine how different age bucks and does react to your mock scrapes. You could also determine which scent and lure manufacturers work best on your property. The possibilities are endless!