We deer hunters have all sorts of tricks that we use to try to entice a nice buck to stop by. Some hunters swear that creating “mock scrapes” is a great way to up your odds of filling a tag. Though I’ve tried that method — I’ll explain what it entails in a minute — it hasn’t really worked for me, and I’d largely given up on the tactic in recent years.
After Bangor Daily News reader Kyle from Franklin County checked in with this amazing trail camera video, I’m willing to try again. The video shows a buck visiting Kyle’s mock scrape, and he says he’s had a steady parade of deer stopping by for a sniff and a lick.
“Attached is a video taken yesterday of a nice 8-pointer I call ‘Blade’ using a ‘wild grape vine licking branch mock scrape,'” Kyle said. “I hung this a year ago and have had deer leaving that orbital gland scent on the vine from April to December (before they yard for the winter). I ran across this technique last year and they work like a charm. Fawns, does, yearlings, all the way up to the big boys leave their orbital scent on it. It’s a great attractant!”
So, what is a mock scrape? It’s a human-created simulation of the pawing that’s done by a deer looking to mark its territory. Typically, the deer scrape away some leaves and leave bare soil. Normally, that scrape is located under a “licking branch,” where they leave more of their scent. Hunters add a “scrape dripper” or other means of delivering a deer attractant to their mock scrape, hoping that the bucks in the area will continue to visit the virtual signpost and mark the territory as their own.
Nathan Bieber, deer biologist for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, explains what the deer are doing, and what the video shows.
“Though there is some documentation of does making scrapes, it’s mostly a buck behavior believed to show that a buck is dominant in the area (or thinks he is) and ready to breed with any receptive females,” Bieber said. “There are three parts to making a scrape: pulling down and leaving scent on a licking branch of some sort, pawing up the ground, and then urinating over their tarsal glands onto the ground. This buck in the video then is either working a new scrape or freshening one up or perhaps leaving his own scent to try and commandeer the scrape. Usually the licking branch is more stationary, but he’s having a little bit of trouble with this vine or maybe just enjoying the feel of his rubbing around his head.”
One thing is readily apparent: Kyle’s technique works for him. And it might turn the tables in your favor this season, too.
Do you have a trail camera photo or video to share? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us “I consent to the BDN using my photo.” In order to prevent neighbors from stopping by to try to tag particularly large bucks, moose or bears, some identities and towns of origin may be omitted.