Most will start mock scrapes approximately 4 weeks prior to the peak of breeding. Usually that means around October 15-20 you could start making scrapes. I myself start around Oct. 20-25 and use them right through the first week of November regularly. After that, usually around the second week (after the 7-9), chasing and breeding begin so bucks will abandon scrapes for the most part.
I've had great results using a setup that utilizes two scrapes within 30-50 yards of each other. I place them upwind of my stand of the stand and make them quite simply (some guys put them downwind believe it or not...it makes sense though because any buck that smells the scrape will most likely be coming from downwind of the scrape anyway). I take about a 4-5' long stick, and while wearing latex gloves (cheap at the store for a whole box), I scrape out an area that is visible from a good distance away (20 yards or so) so that passing deer not only smell the scrape, but can view it as well so it's more appealing to passing bucks. The scrape is about 3-4' in diameter when I'm done. Make sure you've selected a spot that is beneath a branch of a tree or a small sapling. The branch should be chest level or to just above the head. No more than 6' though. This branch should extend over the top of the scrape to server as the licking branch.
There are many products out there for making scrapes. I've used, with great results, Black Widow Scrapemaster. It's a mix of Buck Urine and Doe in Estrus. That's why I usually wait until after October 20 before I put this out. Any earlier and Doe in Estrus would be a little iffy to use. I've literally made scrapes in the dark of the morning before I've climbed into a stand and watched deer use them or investigate them that same morning, only hours later!! This has happened twice with bucks (one that most guys would shoot in my home state - 110" 8pt, 2 year old).
The licking branch is the hardest part. Since bucks use their preorbital glands to apply scent when they're rubbing their faces and antlers on the branch it is hard to find a scent that can be applied. I've found that dipping the tips of the branches in the urine I'm using works pretty well. I've yet to see a deer spook because of this. There are companies that bottle this scent. Hunter's Specialties has a kit out that includes Buck Urine and Licking Branch Scent. It is good for 8 mock scrapes, plus it comes with gloves and a DVD. It runs around $20-$25 at most places (Gander Mountain sells it).
Most importantly, keep your mock scrapes fresh (hit them every 4-7 days with a dose of fresh urine, and try to use the same urine!), and never leave YOUR scent on the branch, in the scrape, or near it. That means not to forget getting rid of the stick you use to make the scrape or not to step in the dirt. This will make the setup worthless by any mature deer (does included).
Keep in mind, mock scrapes don't always work. Be patient and in time you'll see results you like. By the way, they're fun to make and then put a trail cam over. I've got pictures from last years mock scrapes that showed some interesting things. For example, I was surprised out how many does investigated "my" scrapes. I even got a few daylight photos of bucks in late October checking them out while I wasn't at my stand!!
Good luck to you!
I started mine a few weeks ago. I like to make mine the first scrapes in the woods. I just wrote an article for huntonly.com that goes into good detail about making them. The most important factor is being scent free and making sure that the scrape has a licking branch.
I'll make them whenever the oppertunity comes up. I don't have a set date that i'll go out of my way to do one or two.
If i have to pee and i find what looks like the perfect tree, i'm game
And to make one i just find a nice sapling that has a slight lean to it that is in a very good location like a funnel or WELL used trail.
Take a stick and scratch out in front of the tree until I hit dirt, then i'll pee in the scrape and walk away. If i notice activity from it sometime later
i'll make a licking branch by snapping a limb and spitting on it, and pee in the scrape again.
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