Deer scents can be used for mock scrapes, actual scrapes, for scent drags, on stand sprays to attract deer, or to add to a decoy. The many purposes of scents have resulted in a saturated scent market and probably some confusion about how and when to use various types of scents.
I’ve focused the most time and energy into using scents for scrapes. Mock scrapes can be effective tools for getting deer to be in a location you want them to be. They are least effective during the rut and right after the rut. Beyond that deer are active in using scrapes all year long. Scrapes are a form of communication that whitetails are constantly using to convey their presence to other whitetails.
First we’ll look into scents and then the how to’s of making a mock scrape.
Choosing a scent for scrapes. There are countless types of scents, when you break down the price of the scents for how much product you’ll quickly realize these scents aren’t too cheap at all. Here’s my thoughts on which scents to seriously consider using:
- Tinks Power Scrape Starter: One of the most popular brands and offered in a large size. This is my go to cheap scent for mock scrapes. Amazon’s price is high, so I typically look for it on sale at stores after the season. One bottle lasts me a long time since I only do a few sprays in each scrape.
- Code Blue Grave Digger: This is a unique product that is claimed to last 30 days. I have little experience with it, but I like the idea of it. Anything that lasts up to 30 days is impressive. Amazon offers a decent price on the product. I’m a firm believer that Code Blue makes some of the best scent products. They offer one of the most well rounded product lines in the market.
- Buck Fever Synthetic Scents Pre/Post Rut: A few hunters I respect highly recommended the pre/post rut version of this product. If you’re trying to specifically attract a mature buck during the hunting season with Mock scrape tactics I highly recommend this product. I’ll forewarn this is a pricey product that I only recommend using specifically for the purposes of luring in a mature buck during the season. Amazon sells this product otherwise it is not always easy to find.
- Wildlife Research Center Active Scrape: Another household name Wildlife Research Center has been making scents for some time. Their scrape product should be quite effective.
- Mock Scrape Drippers: Many hunters prefer to use a scrape dripper due to the continual dispersal of scent. I’ve used the Tink’s version of the dripper. It seems to work just fine. The Wildlife Research Center Dripper appears to hold more liquid and would have a longer rate of effectiveness in the field.
Some of the scents are actual deer pee. A few squirts of any of the scent sprays should get the scrape going. Most personal experience is that Tinks works just fine and a few hunters I know claim Buck Fever Synthetic Scent is the most realistic scent for luring a buck in prior to the rut. I will note that these guys have a wall full of mounts to back up their claim.
The cheapest option is human urine. I use this method whenever possible. It not only saves money but seems to work just fine. Another free option is to collect scrape dirt from scrapes on other properties or in parks. I’ve read about this tactic in a magazine and always wanted to try it. Hopefully at some point I make the effort to do it. The article mentioned freezing that dirt if you don’t plan to use it for some time.
The Right Tree for a Scrape
The biggest mistake you could make when making a mock scrape would be to pick a tree without a licking branch within reasonable reach of a deer’s mouth. Look for trees with low hanging branches that would be easy for a deer to reach with its mouth/nose.
It appears that deer specifically like to make scrapes on oaks, but other trees with low hanging branches can work as well. I’ve seen deer make scrapes on numerous types of trees.
Probably the most important part of creating scrapes is putting them in the appropriate location. Soil type under the licking branch can be part of the equation as well. If possible aim to put mock scrapes near locations that bucks and does already prefer to scrape. This is your best bet to ensure the success of the mock scrape. If you’re unable to locate any real scrapes start first with field edges for creating mock scrapes, then look for transition zones between feeding and bedding areas with proper trees that the deer are likely to scrape on. These are probably your two best bets for mock scrape locations. If soils are too sandy or two swampy deer are probably less likely to make scrapes in them. Typically dry dirt soils seem to be the areas that deer most commonly make scrapes.
Preferably use a shovel or rake to rough up the dirt all the way down to bare dirt. Do your best to remove debris, and plant growth from the scrape. In doing this you’ve not only given deer a visual sign to see the scrape, but you’ve also put the smell of fresh dirt in the air.
Why Make Scrapes
The obvious answer is the opportunity of killing a buck over a scrape. Using a scrape to lure in a mature buck to kill is no easy task in my opinion. Nevertheless the use of a product like Buck Fever Synthetic Scents and making every effort to remain scent free could potentially allow for a hunter to create a scrape that lures a mature buck in during the season. Beyond the harvest of an animal scrapes can be an effective way to inventory bucks/does in the area using trail cameras. I cannot emphasize enough about the importance of putting trail cameras high (8′ plus) when placing them on scrapes. For whatever reason the act of lifting their head in the air to work the licking branch seems to alert the deer of cameras presence.