So much of stand placement involves finding the right combination of deer activity and a suitable substrate for your stand. Far too often we find a hotspot that for one reason or another just doesn’t lend itself very well to setting a stand. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to make deer go where we want them to go instead? Thanks in large part to research, there is.
As part of a Michigan study, Dr. John Ozoga discovered that by creating the right circumstances, white-tailed deer could be coaxed into making and using scrapes at a specific location. Here are a few tips on how to apply what he found to boost your success.
Hanging Out - The key Ozoga found to eliciting scraping behavior was an overhanging branch, or what hunters sometimes refer to as a licking branch. It should overhang an open area roughly 4-5 feet above the ground. You can create one simply by trimming lower branches or tying a branch onto a tree or even a T post. Even if deer don’t scrape under it, they may use it to deposit scent from their forehead and infraorbital glands.
Salting - You can increase the odds of deer using your scrape simply by clearing away leaves and duff, just as they would. But by adding scent, you can improve your odds exponentially. Wafers or granulated scents that will last longer work better but liquid scents work too.
The Big Dripper - One of the most effective ways to apply liquid scents to a mock scrape is the scrape dripper. Before they were invented, we used to use plastic 35 mm film canisters filled with real deer pee. Now you can buy both the urine and the drippers, designed specifically to slowly drip over an extended period.
Make it Easy - Your mock scrape will be far more effective if you put it in an area that is already being used by deer, even if current use is relatively light.
Start Early - Most folks set their mock scrapes up just before the season and wonder why they’re not as effective as they’d hoped. While deer typically only scrape in the fall, they will use licking branches year round. Set yours well ahead of hunting season to give deer ample time to find it and start using it. And, keep it available to them year round.
Bob Humphrey is a certified wildlife biologist and registered Maine guide who has worked with and hunted deer across North America. See more of his writings at www.bobhumphrey.com.