Nothing gets the hunting juices flowing like a giant, fresh scrape! While the emotions of hunters finding a new scrape can run as hot as the buck that just tore up the earth to create it, not all scrapes are created equal. In fact, should you ever even attempt to hunt over a scrape and if so, when?
I prefer the simple approach when it comes to hunting. By making sure that you are hunting adequate bedding to food source movements, maintaining core sanctuary areas that make up at a minimum of 50% of the overall acreage and choosing the perfect weather conditions for the correct stand for a specific buck, you should find a great deal of success.
Fancy scents, dusts, contraptions, calls and the latest food plot magic bean? They aren't really for me. I just like to focus on getting to know a mature buck, picking the best time and place to run into him and making sure I don't ruin the opportunity before it actually happens. Pretty simple, right? Actually it can be, and I apply that same philosophy to the prospect of hunting over a scrape, in particular after I have answered 3 important questions about a particular scrape.
*When should you start a Mock Scrape?
What Scrapes Matter Most?
Primary scrapes, social scrapes and mock scrapes. Those are just 3 of a long list of scrape names that you have to choose from. In fact there are so many different forms and names of scrapes it can get downright confusing; even for the most experienced of hunters! A scrape in the woods means a buck was most likely there (although not often, does scrape too!). Bucks scrape early and often within their core areas, in particular near where they frequent the most hours of the day: Where they bed and where they feed. Scientific studies have shown that as a buck ages he has the potential to increase the number of scrapes that he creates, but there are so many social factors that come into play as well. There are even hunters out there that believe if you create more scrapes on your land, you will attract more bucks. I find this to be untrue, but the bottom line is that a fresh buck scrape any time of the year has the ability to stir the soul of any hunter. However, even though a buck was at a particular scrape at some point in the past, I prefer to apply this simple approach for hunting over a scrape by asking one quick question: "How fresh is the scrape?". The fresh scrape is always the best scrape and in the theme of keeping it simple, if you can answer "yes" to that first question, then you may have found a spot to hang a stand.
Hunting Over A Fresh Scrape
While a fresh scrape is obviously the best scrape, should you even hunt over it? That brings up the 2nd question of: "How close is the scrape to a buck's core area?". Many different studies have shown that bucks rarely visit a scrape during the hours of daylight. However, most scrapes are observed around field edges and food sources. If you expect a mature buck to visit a scrape you are hunting over, the scrape should be located within or near the heavy form of daytime security cover that a buck calls home. If the fresh scrape you have just found is too far away from where a buck feels completely safe, you are most likely setting yourself up for an empty sit over a nocturnal mature buck creation.
Hunting Away From A Scrape
After you find a fresh scrape near a buck's core daytime security area the 3rd and final question to ask is this: "Is there any heavy cover on the downwind edge?". Several of the bucks I have harvested were directly relating to a nearby scrape that was often out of bow range, while they were cruising through the downwind cover and in front of my stand location. I rarely actually hunt over a scrape, instead preferring to hunt the downwind edge within 40-60 yards. Mature bucks may visit scrape locations after dark during the bulk of the season, even within their core daytime areas. A buck may even ignore a scrape all-together during the peak of the rut - in fact you can often determine when the rut has actually started when the scraping activity stops. However, a wise old monster will still cruise the downwind edge of a quality scrape and that is often the best location to hang your stand.
Hunting mature bucks can be a lot more simple than it needs to be and the process of hunting over a scrape is no exception. If the scrape is fresh, if the scrape is located near a mature buck's core daytime area and if the scrape features a downwind cruising edge that you can approach safely and hunt over, you may have found a great spot that can produce every year.