Back in the late 1980's there was a lot written about mock scrapes, and several bowhunters wrote about their success. Two names I recall are Bob McGuire and Bob Fratzke. Both told us how to make scrapes and showed that they can work. Since that time, we haven't heard all that much about mock scrapes and I figure it is because guys tried making scrapes and didn't have much success.
Then in 1998 there was a study where Dr. Jim Kroll created mock scrapes and using cameras, recorded who came to those scrapes. There were four sets of mock scrapes; one set had hot doe urine, one with buck urine, one set with nothing in them, and one with human urine. I know that we all grew up being told that human urine scares deer. But my friend Charlie Alsheimer has urinated in scrapes for years with good results. Let's see what the results of this study showed.
Bucks visited scrapes with buck urine and human urine the most. Estrus doe urine and scrapes with no scent came in a close second. The researchers not only could not distinguish a statistical difference in visits to these scrapes, but they saw no difference in the age of bucks visiting these scrapes.
The next fall they made mock scrapes with buck urine, hot doe urine, no scent at all, and some with "new car scent" spray. New car scent spray? This should be interesting. However, bucks came to all four treatments. The fact that bucks came to new car scent spray and to mock scrapes with no scent was attributed to curiosity. Dr. Kroll found that almost as many does and fawns came to the scrapes as bucks. Does came more readily to the doe estrus urine than the other treatments, while bucks seemed to favor the estrus urine and the buck urine.
Select well used travel corridors for setting up mock scrapes. Once a buck uses your mock scrape it becomes an authentic scrape that will work to attract traveling bucks all season.
It appears then that a scrape can bring bucks to it based on visual signals (they came to a scrape with nothing in it), and scent signals. In addition, they obviously come out of curiosity (eg. new car scent spray).
If you take nothing away from this column at all, it should be that you might consider making a mock scrape every time you sit a stand.
Remember, the overhanging limb is critical. Every mock scrape you make should have an overhanging limb 4-5 feet above the scrape. Let's say you are late getting into your morning stand, and you don't have time to get out your doe in heat urine and put it in the mock scrape near your stand. OK.....then just use your boot and scrape some leaves from under an over hanging limb. Do that in a spot near your stand where the wind won't give you away when the buck comes in. What do you have to loose? Mock scrapes with nothing in them do attract bucks, for whatever reason. It takes no time, so just scratch out the leaves and hop into your stand.
Don't be afraid to set up a cluster of 2-4 scrapes in an area. This is natural and will result in better success than a single set-up. Using 24/Seven time released granules will allow you to create the scrapes and allow them to work for up to a week before recharging.
When I put up a new stand in the summer, a stand that I want to hunt in October, before the rut, it is probably in an area with good deer trail activity. Maybe the area is a funnel. Maybe a rub line was there last year on a ridge. But, wherever it is, I find a spot within twenty yards with an overhanging limb, good wind, and I put Doe Estrus in a mock scrape. I wear rubber gloves and leave no odor as I make that mock scrape. What I hope to do is give a good buck another reason to use that trail as he goes from his bedding area to his feeding area and vice versa.
Bob Fratzke used to say that when he made a mock scrape, when the first buck came to that scrape, it went from being a mock scrape to a real one. He believes that if the mock scrape isn't used, it is in the wrong place. He also believes that you should make 3-4 mock scrapes close together as this attracts bucks better than just one scrape. Why not give mock scrapes a try. You have nothing loose. Its time to find a tree and hunt hard, so be safe, and enjoy the outdoors.
Dr. Dave is writing a new book you will need in your library. It will be filled with whitetail science that will make you a better and more effective hunter. www.knowhunting.com
Editors note: This last November in Illinois at our outdoor writer camps we provided 24/Seven granulated scent to all of the writers to try. We had tremendous results…we ran out of bottles of 24/Seven and had to fed-ex in more! We often had multiple bucks visit scrapes during a single sit. The biggest benefit of 24/Seven is that it is time-released. This means that once it was put into a mock scrape we didn't have to revisit it every day and recharge it. Walking over to a scrape always contaminates it with human scent. 24/Seven solves that problem. …bowhunting biologist, Wade Nolan