How to Make the Ultimate Mock Scrape

mock scrape summer

Today’s guest blog is from Wisconsin hunter and friend of BIG DEER Kim Redburn:

Did you know that a whitetail buck will check and freshen a scrape year-round?

Four years ago I started running 6 trail cameras 365 days a year on my land, as I really enjoy the wildlife and the change of seasons they capture. Being a hunter with 40 years of experience, I didn’t think I would stumble onto some deer behavioral habits I was not aware of. But I did.

Initially when I purchased my small wooded property I completed an extensive walk of the land in early spring.  I found several trails, a few small rubs and scrapes and 2 larger scrapes that I call “breeding scrapes.” These large scrape spots were the first 2 places I placed cameras. Two cameras were placed along prominent deer trails, and the last 2 cams were delegated security to watch the camper and the gate.

After a couple of years of constant monitoring, the pattern of bucks coming to freshen the large scrapes year-round became evident. That is when I began experimenting with making mock scrapes, but like most hunters I would wait until fall, just before the upsurge in scraping begins, to do it.

But turns out that might not be the best time for mock scrapes. I had some success, but since then I have found early summer to be the ideal time for making mock scrapes.

Here’s how I do it.

First is location selection. If you’ve been hunting real buck scrapes over the years and are tired of getting busted there, start making mock scrapes in places that benefit you, not the deer.

For years I think I may have put my stands in spots that did not have the stealth I needed to get in and out, which may have compromised my opportunity. This year I found a new tree stand location overlooking an area of mixed oaks and poplar that I can sneak to and away from easily.  I am taking a chance here because the closest trail is only 50 yards away, but from the tall oak I have a good lane of visibility, which is another reason I chose the tree. And this is where I built my latest mock scrape.

If it seems I’m doing things backwards—choosing a tree and then a place to scrape–well I am sort of, but that is how much I believe in my mock scrape making. Again, the key is the location of it.

While any dirt will do, the best mock scrapes start out with some soil and deer droppings that you collect at an existing scrape if you can find one (once you create a mock scrape in a place you really like, you can collect urine-soaked soil and droppings from real scrapes later this fall and add it to your scrape).

scrape juice

You will need a dripper system with a “scrape starter” solution. I use Wildlife Research Center, but there are other products out there. Note: Do not use doe in heat or an estrus scent at this time in the summer.

You’ll need a 3-prong hand rake, a trowel and a plastic bag.  Rake an existing scrape down to bare soil, and trowel a fair amount of the dirt, about 3 to 5 pounds, into the bag.

Carry the dirt to the spot where you’ll make your scrape, which must be below a prominent overhanging “lick or chew” branch that bucks will most definitely use. The branch should be at approximately 4 feet high–never touch it!

mock summer scrape

Your mock scrape is not only scent-based but also a visual sign, so rake out at least a 2 foot by 3 foot area below the overhanging branch.  As I rake, I envision a buck. He scrapes with his hooves primarily in one direction, and your raking should be done the same way, leaving the debris on the back side of the scrape.

Without stepping into the middle of your scrape, hang your empty dripper on a limb above the chew branch where scent will drip and land in the scrape. Now spread your collected soil evenly across your scraped-out area.  While this deer-scented dirt is not necessary, it adds realism and makes for a quicker and a more consistently attended scrape.

Fill your dripper with scrape-starter solution and make sure it’s dripping a bit. Place your trail camera nearby and enjoy the images you’ll get until hunting season opens.–Kim

About the buck photos above: Kim’s cameras captured both these bucks working her mock scrapes and chew branches earlier this July, proof her tactic works!

Deer Hunting: 3 Must-Do Trail Camera Tips

1469461495469_3589023095From our good friend Zach:

Hey Mike, I finally got around to setting out another camera and these are the bucks that showed up in just one week. All three are new on the farm and can’t wait till they are out of velvet. For the past two years I’ve been watching this certain piece of property that’s only about three acres and has a creek running through it. Last week I decided to set up a camera and, well, these are the bucks that are hanging in there. Can’t wait to get a stand up!–Zach

This is the most recent proof of 3 things I’ve been writing and blogging about for years. I hope you have been heeding this advice, but if not do it now and you’ll find and pattern more bucks to hunt in a few months:

–It doesn’t take a lot of land to hold big bucks. In this case, only 3 acres. While it’s unclear whether all or most of those bucks will hang in the vicinity come bow season, it’s a good bet that at least one of them will be around for Zach to hunt. Don’t overlook small parcels of land for cams and tree stands.

1469461522082_8164911579

–In late summer and early fall, bucks LOVE to hang in cool, shady thickets near a creek or river; hang a camera in these areas and you’ll find bucks like Zach did.

–There are places on the land you hunt where for whatever reason you have never scouted or hunted. (My theory is that we are habitual creatures, and once we get comfortable hunting a certain area, we keep going back and back and neglect other spots that might actually be better.) Well, right now pick 2 or 3 small ridges, bottoms or pockets of cover that for whatever reason you have never investigated before, and hang cams in those spots. Bet you’ll find some bucks, and maybe a good one.

Send me your trail cam photos to share, I’ll never reveal the location of the bucks.

Iowa: Put Name Tags on Deer Stands

tree stand hunter compressedFrom The Des Moines Register: Hunting blinds and tree stands on public lands would be required to have a metal identification tag with the owner’s name and address under a bill approved…by an Iowa Senate subcommittee.

Lawmakers agreed to strike a provision that the tag include a hunting license number.

The Iowa DNR is neither for not against it. Some Iowa hunting and outdoor groups are either neutral or have expressed no objections to the proposal.

Me? I don’t like it as a precedent that could spread to other states that I hunt.

When I started hunting many years ago, mostly on public land and leases with lots of other hunters, I never wanted other people to know where I was hunting. I didn’t have anything to hide, but every day I tried to sneak in and out of my stand without anybody seeing me. It is hard enough to scout a good buck and find a secret ridge or bottom to hunt him on public. Back in the old days, I looked at other hunters as my competition. I have mellowed on that with age, but to this day I like to keep a low profile and do my own thing in the woods.

If you or I had to hang a name a tag on a stand, it’s advertising to everybody in the area where we’re hunting. Humans are curious, most of the time too curious. If stands had to be tagged, most every nosy hunter that ran across an empty one would climb the steps just to see whose stand it was.

It’s a privacy issue for me. Our every move is already tracked these days by our smartphones and apps. It’s one thing to be tracked to the store, but it’s nobody’s business where I’m hunting.

How this tagging bill came about is unclear, but I guess it could help solve one potential problem—some stranger moving in and taking over your stand. For the life of me I cannot understand how anybody could climb up and hunt out of a random stand they just found in the woods, but it happens. And sometimes an ugly confrontation occurs. Maybe if stands were tagged, it would act as a deterrent to put an end to stand squatting.

The subcommittee approved this bill back in January 2016, and it was to advance to the Iowa Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee. No updates on when or if that will happen, so perhaps the bill has been tabled or quashed. This late in the summer it seems unlikely that name tags on stands would be required for the 2016 Iowa deer season, but be check the regs.

What do you think about name tags on stands? Make sense, or silly?

BIG DEER TV 2016 Episode 3: “Rut Race Saskatchewan to Idaho”

sask woods before cut

As the script goes: Saskatchewan’s muzzleloader season is 2 weeks earlier than my usual rifle hunt up here, and the warm, wet weather is killing us. It’s hard just to get around in the mud and slop, and the deer are inactive in their thick winter coats…the forest is dead…but you have to keep your head up.

That I did, though I did not see a single buck all week. A few does, but not one buck. My 10-plus-year streak of amazing buck hunts and good fortune in the Saskatchewan bush had come to a crashing end.

I could not let it end that way. I’d have to come back next month…

Down but not out, I put a tough hunt behind me and prepare for daunting terrain in the river canyons of northwestern Idaho.  A far cry from the mental fatigue of the ground blind, this hunt will test my physical stamina and work ethic…

white bird

White Bird, Idaho, named after a chief of the Nez Perce tribe, is surrounded by prime western whitetail habitat…but you have to earn your buck in this tough country.

First no buck in Anticosti Quebec and ditto for Saskatchewan last week. My rough start to the 2015 whitetail season rolls on. The first guy I met in Idaho was a local game warden named George, a nice fellow who said, “You should have been here last year. Plenty of bucks. This summer, EHD hit the whitetails hard in the area you’re hunting.”

…you have to keep your head up.

We started glassing and hunting in this stunningly beautiful paradise where during a normal season you can find 10 or more whitetail bucks a day without too much effort, along with lots of mule deer and elk. Some mule deer and herds of elk were still here, but we were hard pressed to see one whitetail buck. Just as I thought I’d eat my third tag in a row, Bob and I crossed a creek, looked up and…

idaho buck mike

As the show ends, you’ll see how to make a whitetail backpack and carry the whole darn deer, sans legs, up and out of the mountains on your back. (Not mine, but a strong, tough 20-something named Ryan.)

whitetail backpack

This new episode of BIG DEER TV airs 7 pm Eastern tonight on Sportsman Channel, set your DVR.

How To Build Cheap, Awesome Food Plots For Deer

velvet buckToday’s guest blog from Wisconsin hunter Kim Redburn, a good friend of BIG DEER:

If you own a lawn tractor and have some small and accessible clearings on your land, putting in some food plots does not need to be expensive or physically taxing.  I am 52 years old and have some physical disabilities, and I was able to make a few plots for under $150.

Other items you will need:

aerator

–A tow-behind lawn spike aerator; this Brinly 40” model (about $80) works great.

–Seed. For ease in planting I use seeds that do not need to be covered with soil: clover, chicory, brassica, oats, beans and peas. Antler King No-Till Mix ($14.99 Amazon) is great, and I also like BioLogic Winter Peas ($19.99). One bag of either of those covers 1/4-acre. I seem to spread the seed a little thick and usually need to purchase a second bag.

plot mix

Keep in mind that most places need a PH soil test, and then possibly lime spreading and/or fertilization. This is a simple application and not expensive. I didn’t do any PH testing, as I have extremely good soil thanks to the glaciation thousands of years ago in my area of northwest Wisconsin. Heck, here the deer even consume it and its diatomaceous nature.

First step in your plot build is to watch the weather. Look for a forecast that will bring a couple days of rain. It is tough to sit and hope for rain, so just wait until a forecast is favorable.

Second step is to mow your clearing as short as your mower will allow.

Third, connect your aerator to the back of your tractor, place weight upon the aerator (cinder blocks, etc. which help to push the aeration spikes deeper into the earth). Now go back and forth and across your small clearing until it is well aerated.  The clearing should be mostly cut up soil when finished.

Fourth, simply hand sow your seed, or you can use one of those hand-crank seeders if you’ve got one.

My camera caught the eager buck above shortly after I planted a plot, and I also had several waves of turkeys come through. The peas I planted were easy pickings, but I over-seeded like I normally do and there was plenty left for sprouting, which occurred 5 days after the planting with the 3 days and nights of rain we got. Another food plot success!—Kim

Have you shot a big deer with a unique story? Seen something weird and wild in the woods? Got an awesome trail camera image? Have some great how-to advice like Kim’s that you’d like to share with other hunters? Send your stories and pictures to: mikehanback@yahoo.com and if we post them you’ll receive a BIG DEER cap and sticker.