When it comes to starting a mock scrape I am borrowing a portion of an old familiar phrase from years ago because, "The time to start a mock scrape, is any time"! Where did that phrase come from? In the early 2000s I applied 65 tons of lime on my old UP of MI parcel - one 50# bag at a time! The bags became extremely familiar to me -over and over again- and on the side of each it read, "The time to lime is any time". Other than during the hunting season when your invasiveness could be completely counter-productive, there really isn't a bad time to start a mock scrape and there are several reasons why.
Starting A Mock Scrape
While mock scrapes do not attract more bucks to your land, they do have the ability to defined movement. With that being said, the sooner you can begin to establish the pattern of use with your habitat micro-features, including, waterholes, travel corridors and mock scrapes, the better. I have experienced since the early 2000s, that bucks will begin frequenting a mock scrape during the middle of the Summer, and then will continue those patterns throughout the entire season. While that doesn't mean that a buck will actually complete the scraping sequence every time he passes by, it does mean that the travel patterns that relate to a particular mock scrape, can be a highly conditioned step in his daily travel.
*I use mock scrapes not only to define movement, but to build an inventory for mature bucks! That of course takes an extremely reliable trail camera, but I also encourage you to try out DeerLab's 30 day free trial, for their trail cam herd monitoring software-it works great!
Timing Mock Scrape Work
During January, February and March I find myself touring client parcels across the Country and working on timber cuttings or off season scouting missions, on my own parcels. Spring brings switchgrass work and herbicide applications and by the time June and July rolls around my stand locations have all seen major lane and access clearing projects. For me personally, July is not only a great time to make sure that my trail cameras are out in full force, but a great time to complete my mock scrape activities! This allows plenty of time for bucks and deer in general, to start adding a particular mock scrape within their daily patterns, and it is also well before 90% of the bucks I typically target for Fall, have shifted to their hunting season patterns.
What About Mock Scrape Scent?
Folks it is disappointing to say this because it most likely won't earn me any future scent sponsorships, but since the early 2000s all of my mock scrapes have performed extremely well, without adding any scent at all. Sure, I do actually pee into the scrape at times when first started, but time and time again -even in the middle of the Summer on a new scrape- it has been proven to me that scent is not needed. Could some kind of scent work a little bit better? Maybe, but at the level of use that I experience by the local deer herds in the states that I hunt, I am happy with the no-hassle practice of using nothing.
*Making a mock scrape is incredibly easy! Here is how to get it done in less than 15 minutes, and how quickly it works!
Is there really a bad time to start a mock scrape? Unless you are spooking deer and distrupting their travel during the hunting season, probably not! For me, the timing of the month of July works extremely well, and I have been extremely pleased with the results that my mock scrapes have produced by the beginning of hunting season let alone within a week of first starting them. When should you start a mock scrape? In my experience if you are reading this between the months of January and September, the answer is Right Now!