A fresh scrape is nature’s version of a neon sign saying, “hunt here”. Unfortunately, these scrapes are not always in a location that allows for easy hunting. When this happens, you need to take matters into your own hands and create a mock scrape.
Let us help you decide what scents will work best to draw in the most and biggest deer.
What Scents are Available?
Before we can talk about what scents are best, we need to discuss what scents are available. Aside from urine whitetail deer have seven major scents glands. Each is used to communicate with other deer.
Each gland’s location determines where other deer expect the individual scents to be dispersed.
- Forehead glands – located on the forehead above the eyes
- Preorbital glands– located below the eyes
- Nasal glands – located inside the nostrils
- Interdigital glands – located between the toes
- Preputial glands – located on the buck’s foreskin
- Metatarsal glands – located on the outside of hind legs
- Tarsal glands – located on the inside of hind legs
Now that you know what scents a deer can produce you can put that knowledge to work creating a perfect scrape. Before we do that let us take a look at the anatomy of a scrape.
The simplest scrape is nothing more than a patch of bare earth onto which a deer has urinated. The most common scrape includes not only a patch of bare earth but also a licking branch.
This branch will usually be located directly above the scrape at slightly higher than head height.
Deer will not only lick this branch but also rub their heads on it. This will leave behind not only urine scents on the earth but also nasal, preorbital, and forehead scents.
Finally, there is the addition of a rubbing post. This is a nearby tree, fence post, or similar object the deer will rub their head or body on.
There will be a variety of scent glands used to mark the rubbing post including forehead, preorbital, preputial, and metatarsal.
Making Your Mock Scrape
The key to making a scrape that deer will not only visit but continue to visit throughout the season is making it realistic.
Nothing is more realistic than natural scents. Although deer are naturally curious and prone to being attracted to vanilla, acorn, or even beet scents nothing beats what they are looking for – signs that other deer are in the area.
- The first step is clearing a patch of earth. Not only will this provide a visual alert to deer passing the area it will also provide the first scent trail. The smell of freshly dug soil is itself attractive to deer, either because they associate it with scrapes or are generally curious.
- Next, you will want to add deer scent to the fresh dug earth. This will let other deer think the scrape is active and make it more likely they will leave their scent and revisit in the future. Many hunters use urine for this purpose.
Although urine is naturally found at a scrape it breaks down quickly and in as little as 30 minutes smells like nothing but ammonia. By using a scent from the tarsal gland, the site will be realistic and last for many days instead of minutes.
- Now it’s time to add a licking branch. Locate a small limb directly above the scrape and bend it downward. Apply a combination of scents from the forehead, preorbital glands for a realistic presentation. This will entice visitors to stop and smell, lick, or rub on the branch giving you additional time for a shot.
- Finally, there is the rubbing post. Although this is not as important as the scrape or licking branch having it does make your site that much more attractive.
Having a rubbing post also provides two important advantages – a chance to add more scent to the sight and another shot opportunity when deer stop to check it out.
As far as scents are concerned the rubbing post can include those from almost any gland but the most likely are tarsal, metatarsal, forehead, and preorbital.
Leave a Trail
One of the primary rules of deer hunting is to leave no trace, meaning being as scent-free as possible so that deer cannot detect you when hunting or your routes in and out. But there are exceptions and mock scrapes are one of them.
Hunting a mock scrape adding a scent trail that leads deer to the scrape, and past your stand, if possible, can increase your odds. As with the scrape itself, many different scents can be used for your trail.
However, using the correct scrape at the correct time of the season will add realism to the situation.
- Pre-season- doe urine to grab the attention of other deer in the area without spoking them
- Pre-rut – buck urine to let other bucks think an invader has entered their territory
- Rut – doe estrous to attract bucks hunting for a mate, buck tarsal gland to make it seem like a stranger is chasing the doe
- Post rut – doe estrous can be used to replicate late breeders
Picking a Scent
Not all scents are created equal. Some manufacturers use scents collected from multiple deer and mix them into a single batch. Others collect from individual deer, package, and sell in one bottle. The latter is far superior and offers better results.
When shopping for scents, including urine, look for manufacturers who date their products. Select the freshest products available for the strongest, most productive scent.
If used properly scents can change your hunting results more than almost any other tactic. If you doubt this, wait until the first time a big buck catches your trail and follows it to a mock scrape within range of your stand.
As exciting as it is to trick the buck into falling for your trick it can only be made better when they check out your licking branch, giving you the time needed for a perfect shot. It is a vision that will be burned into your memories for a lifetime.