Big Woods Buck Scrapes

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Big Woods Buck Scrapes

Unread postby Singing Bridge » Sun Jul 19, 2020 7:24 am

I've seen some good posts here on the Beast as of late regarding the Big Woods and scrapes within them... and I see Dan re-kicked a mock scrape post with rope or vine (if you use manilla rope make sure it doesn't have oil added... many of them do).

I'm going to suggest that more thought needs to be put into big woods scrape hunting... and at the same time how to simplify it. I'm going to further break down the big woods scrapes to conifer swamps and highlands that contain a good number of coniferous trees as well.

Let's start with the mock scrape thing... they work and can take time to monitor and most guys end up ruining the spot with too much human scent. But lets discuss when you are being careful... where did you put that mock scrape? On a trail? Is it a buck trail / doe trail / both? Because you have no idea are you just putting it on a deer trail? Outside of the rut you'd better know what kind of a trail it is and why the buck is using it... not to mention when. Is the trail based on topography or edge? If so we are generally hoping for rut cruising activity bringing a buck by the scrape. Outside of that window, hunters really struggle.

Now, back to the big woods and conifer swamps... are mock scrapes necessary? Maybe... but if you can locate scrapes adjacent to buck bedding, especially with more than one buck in the area, you have found a dynamic hunting spot for much of the open season. Convinced that you've found a big woods buck bedding area but you can't figure out a travel pattern? Mock scrapes may help... but where to put them. For the best success, they should be located in the same areas as real scrapes. Adjacent to buck bedding areas, funnels / creek crossing near buck bedding, where rut cruise trails intercept doe entrances and exits to bedding and or feeding and high percentage areas such as these. Don't expect a lot of success if you are just putting out mock scrapes on overgrown logging roads outside of the rut.

In the big woods, do you need to put a line overhead above the runway to hang a branch / rope / or vine from? Of course not. Do you need to bonk him in the head with it or he won't stop to examine it? Nope. These big woods bucks are on edge due to predator populations. If you make a mock scrape just off to the side of their trail, believe me they will notice it. If done properly, they will examine it just as much as a real scrape, pausing for a shot, etc.

So do you need a big woods branch overhead with a clear spot underneath for the buck to nose up to and rub / lick the branch? Nope. Let's look at big woods scrapes under cedars / firs / spruce and other conifers. Lets make the example a good one with a spruce tree scrape. The buck turns sideways to the tree and works the branch at the preferred height while scraping the ground. The bucks couldn't care less that there's multiple thick spruce branches under the licking branch. The licking branch is worked and the scrape pawed or at least a big track is on the ground there. Need a mock scrape next to a spruce? Crack over a spruce branch at the right height and kick out a basketball sized circle of dirt next to the spruce right there. If it's within 10 -15 feet of the buck trail it will be noticed... and if set up properly used by the buck. Conifers are the preferred tree for scrapes in the swamps and big woods that I hunt... much more than other species of trees. Some of the biggest bucks I hunt, in areas of big woods with almost no conifer trees, will hit and scrape at a lone conifer close to their runway.

So to summarize, don't look for or create scrapes just anywhere in the big woods and conifer swamps... they are rather low odds propositions outside of the rut. Find those buck bedding areas / funnels and creek crossings adjacent to buck bedding / and rut cruise trails / old logging roads following edge or topographical edge, doe bedding and feeding areas and understand what time of the year those scrapes become high odds for success.

In the right location, these scrapes will be hit and utilized for decades without logging or some other destructive force. I'm going to add a pic of an early spring scout where the 2 perennial big woods scrapes are located where a buck cruise trail intersects a major doe bedding exit trail. These scrapes are half filled with snow and ice, but are 4 inches deep and have been used for a couple of decades. Yes, I check on them every few years. What do you think the odds are that these scrapes will be active this fall??? I'm going stop here in the interest of brevity... we don't have time to read a book.

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Re: Big Woods Buck Scrapes

Unread postby tuff4x4 » Sun Jul 19, 2020 2:07 pm

good stuff... really enjoy your posts and would like to read a book from you one day,,,
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Re: Big Woods Buck Scrapes

Unread postby oldrank » Sun Jul 19, 2020 2:40 pm

How do you hunt it or use it to your advantage in a hunting situation? Are you focusing on a specific time of the year to attack? Are you specifically setting up some of these to conduct inventory with tracks?
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Re: Big Woods Buck Scrapes

Unread postby Wolfshead » Sun Jul 19, 2020 10:45 pm

Singing Bridge wrote:I've seen some good posts here on the Beast as of late regarding the Big Woods and scrapes within them... and I see Dan re-kicked a mock scrape post with rope or vine (if you use manilla rope make sure it doesn't have oil added... many of them do).

I'm going to suggest that more thought needs to be put into big woods scrape hunting... and at the same time how to simplify it. I'm going to further break down the big woods scrapes to conifer swamps and highlands that contain a good number of coniferous trees as well.

Let's start with the mock scrape thing... they work and can take time to monitor and most guys end up ruining the spot with too much human scent. But lets discuss when you are being careful... where did you put that mock scrape? On a trail? Is it a buck trail / doe trail / both? Because you have no idea are you just putting it on a deer trail? Outside of the rut you'd better know what kind of a trail it is and why the buck is using it... not to mention when. Is the trail based on topography or edge? If so we are generally hoping for rut cruising activity bringing a buck by the scrape. Outside of that window, hunters really struggle.

Now, back to the big woods and conifer swamps... are mock scrapes necessary? Maybe... but if you can locate scrapes adjacent to buck bedding, especially with more than one buck in the area, you have found a dynamic hunting spot for much of the open season. Convinced that you've found a big woods buck bedding area but you can't figure out a travel pattern? Mock scrapes may help... but where to put them. For the best success, they should be located in the same areas as real scrapes. Adjacent to buck bedding areas, funnels / creek crossing near buck bedding, where rut cruise trails intercept doe entrances and exits to bedding and or feeding and high percentage areas such as these. Don't expect a lot of success if you are just putting out mock scrapes on overgrown logging roads outside of the rut.

In the big woods, do you need to put a line overhead above the runway to hang a branch / rope / or vine from? Of course not. Do you need to bonk him in the head with it or he won't stop to examine it? Nope. These big woods bucks are on edge due to predator populations. If you make a mock scrape just off to the side of their trail, believe me they will notice it. If done properly, they will examine it just as much as a real scrape, pausing for a shot, etc.

So do you need a big woods branch overhead with a clear spot underneath for the buck to nose up to and rub / lick the branch? Nope. Let's look at big woods scrapes under cedars / firs / spruce and other conifers. Lets make the example a good one with a spruce tree scrape. The buck turns sideways to the tree and works the branch at the preferred height while scraping the ground. The bucks couldn't care less that there's multiple thick spruce branches under the licking branch. The licking branch is worked and the scrape pawed or at least a big track is on the ground there. Need a mock scrape next to a spruce? Crack over a spruce branch at the right height and kick out a basketball sized circle of dirt next to the spruce right there. If it's within 10 -15 feet of the buck trail it will be noticed... and if set up properly used by the buck. Conifers are the preferred tree for scrapes in the swamps and big woods that I hunt... much more than other species of trees. Some of the biggest bucks I hunt, in areas of big woods with almost no conifer trees, will hit and scrape at a lone conifer close to their runway.

So to summarize, don't look for or create scrapes just anywhere in the big woods and conifer swamps... they are rather low odds propositions outside of the rut. Find those buck bedding areas / funnels and creek crossings adjacent to buck bedding / and rut cruise trails / old logging roads following edge or topographical edge, doe bedding and feeding areas and understand what time of the year those scrapes become high odds for success.

In the right location, these scrapes will be hit and utilized for decades without logging or some other destructive force. I'm going to add a pic of an early spring scout where the 2 perennial big woods scrapes are located where a buck cruise trail intersects a major doe bedding exit trail. These scrapes are half filled with snow and ice, but are 4 inches deep and have been used for a couple of decades. Yes, I check on them every few years. What do you think the odds are that these scrapes will be active this fall??? I'm going stop here in the interest of brevity... we don't have time to read a book.

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I do believe Sir, in the interest of further knowledge, you should continue!
I love a good book!
Please continue
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Re: Big Woods Buck Scrapes

Unread postby Singing Bridge » Mon Jul 20, 2020 12:38 am

tuff4x4 wrote:good stuff... really enjoy your posts and would like to read a book from you one day,,,


Thanks for that, appreciate it.
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Re: Big Woods Buck Scrapes

Unread postby Singing Bridge » Mon Jul 20, 2020 12:53 am

oldrank wrote:How do you hunt it or use it to your advantage in a hunting situation? Are you focusing on a specific time of the year to attack? Are you specifically setting up some of these to conduct inventory with tracks?


I greatly, greatly prefer REAL big woods scrapes. But I have conditioned some big woods bucks to hit my mock scrapes when needed. Sometimes the population of big woods bucks is so low that I try to give a destination to the only buck around. Again, location is key. One big woods buck was bedding part way up a bluff next to a huge swamp. Where the square corner of the swamp butted up against the bluff to the West, and Boreal forest running short ridges to the East, I put in a mock scrape. It took him a while, but when he found it he blew it out and started hitting it fairly often. The reason I put the mock scrape there was there should have been a scrape there in the first place, a big part of successfully having a buck take it over.

Again, just throwing out mock scrapes in the big woods is going to leave you so disappointed. Make sure there's a great reason for the scrape to be there.

I hunt a mock scrape in the big woods by setting up to intercept the buck on the way to it (early season) . The rut is always a good time to hunt them.

Great question on track inventory, and yes I absolutely set up mock scrapes to monitor bucks. My favorite is to put a scrape in near buck bedding where a main trail crosses a creek... then I monitor the buck tracks and relate them to bedding. If no water crossings are close by I will rake out track traps.

Being able to interpret tracks / droppings / beds / rubs / scrapes and more are vital skillsets for big woods hunting. I have a few trailcams, but I scout countless locations.
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Re: Big Woods Buck Scrapes

Unread postby Singing Bridge » Mon Jul 20, 2020 12:57 am

Wolfshead wrote:
Singing Bridge wrote:I've seen some good posts here on the Beast as of late regarding the Big Woods and scrapes within them... and I see Dan re-kicked a mock scrape post with rope or vine (if you use manilla rope make sure it doesn't have oil added... many of them do).

I'm going to suggest that more thought needs to be put into big woods scrape hunting... and at the same time how to simplify it. I'm going to further break down the big woods scrapes to conifer swamps and highlands that contain a good number of coniferous trees as well.

Let's start with the mock scrape thing... they work and can take time to monitor and most guys end up ruining the spot with too much human scent. But lets discuss when you are being careful... where did you put that mock scrape? On a trail? Is it a buck trail / doe trail / both? Because you have no idea are you just putting it on a deer trail? Outside of the rut you'd better know what kind of a trail it is and why the buck is using it... not to mention when. Is the trail based on topography or edge? If so we are generally hoping for rut cruising activity bringing a buck by the scrape. Outside of that window, hunters really struggle.

Now, back to the big woods and conifer swamps... are mock scrapes necessary? Maybe... but if you can locate scrapes adjacent to buck bedding, especially with more than one buck in the area, you have found a dynamic hunting spot for much of the open season. Convinced that you've found a big woods buck bedding area but you can't figure out a travel pattern? Mock scrapes may help... but where to put them. For the best success, they should be located in the same areas as real scrapes. Adjacent to buck bedding areas, funnels / creek crossing near buck bedding, where rut cruise trails intercept doe entrances and exits to bedding and or feeding and high percentage areas such as these. Don't expect a lot of success if you are just putting out mock scrapes on overgrown logging roads outside of the rut.

In the big woods, do you need to put a line overhead above the runway to hang a branch / rope / or vine from? Of course not. Do you need to bonk him in the head with it or he won't stop to examine it? Nope. These big woods bucks are on edge due to predator populations. If you make a mock scrape just off to the side of their trail, believe me they will notice it. If done properly, they will examine it just as much as a real scrape, pausing for a shot, etc.

So do you need a big woods branch overhead with a clear spot underneath for the buck to nose up to and rub / lick the branch? Nope. Let's look at big woods scrapes under cedars / firs / spruce and other conifers. Lets make the example a good one with a spruce tree scrape. The buck turns sideways to the tree and works the branch at the preferred height while scraping the ground. The bucks couldn't care less that there's multiple thick spruce branches under the licking branch. The licking branch is worked and the scrape pawed or at least a big track is on the ground there. Need a mock scrape next to a spruce? Crack over a spruce branch at the right height and kick out a basketball sized circle of dirt next to the spruce right there. If it's within 10 -15 feet of the buck trail it will be noticed... and if set up properly used by the buck. Conifers are the preferred tree for scrapes in the swamps and big woods that I hunt... much more than other species of trees. Some of the biggest bucks I hunt, in areas of big woods with almost no conifer trees, will hit and scrape at a lone conifer close to their runway.

So to summarize, don't look for or create scrapes just anywhere in the big woods and conifer swamps... they are rather low odds propositions outside of the rut. Find those buck bedding areas / funnels and creek crossings adjacent to buck bedding / and rut cruise trails / old logging roads following edge or topographical edge, doe bedding and feeding areas and understand what time of the year those scrapes become high odds for success.

In the right location, these scrapes will be hit and utilized for decades without logging or some other destructive force. I'm going to add a pic of an early spring scout where the 2 perennial big woods scrapes are located where a buck cruise trail intersects a major doe bedding exit trail. These scrapes are half filled with snow and ice, but are 4 inches deep and have been used for a couple of decades. Yes, I check on them every few years. What do you think the odds are that these scrapes will be active this fall??? I'm going stop here in the interest of brevity... we don't have time to read a book.

Image

Image


I do believe Sir, in the interest of further knowledge, you should continue!
I love a good book!
Please continue


Very much appreciate that- I'm prepping to go off grid for a short time but will revisit this when I return.

Bridge
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Re: Big Woods Buck Scrapes

Unread postby oldrank » Mon Jul 20, 2020 1:08 am

Singing Bridge wrote:
oldrank wrote:How do you hunt it or use it to your advantage in a hunting situation? Are you focusing on a specific time of the year to attack? Are you specifically setting up some of these to conduct inventory with tracks?


I greatly, greatly prefer REAL big woods scrapes. But I have conditioned some big woods bucks to hit my mock scrapes when needed. Sometimes the population of big woods bucks is so low that I try to give a destination to the only buck around. Again, location is key. One big woods buck was bedding part way up a bluff next to a huge swamp. Where the square corner of the swamp butted up against the bluff to the West, and Boreal forest running short ridges to the East, I put in a mock scrape. It took him a while, but when he found it he blew it out and started hitting it fairly often. The reason I put the mock scrape there was there should have been a scrape there in the first place, a big part of successfully having a buck take it over.

Again, just throwing out mock scrapes in the big woods is going to leave you so disappointed. Make sure there's a great reason for the scrape to be there.

I hunt a mock scrape in the big woods by setting up to intercept the buck on the way to it (early season) . The rut is always a good time to hunt them.

Great question on track inventory, and yes I absolutely set up mock scrapes to monitor bucks. My favorite is to put a scrape in near buck bedding where a main trail crosses a creek... then I monitor the buck tracks and relate them to bedding. If no water crossings are close by I will rake out track traps.

Being able to interpret tracks / droppings / beds / rubs / scrapes and more are vital skillsets for big woods hunting. I have a few trailcams, but I scout countless locations.



Very interesting. Kinda like putting up a fire hydrant on a corner for dogs to pee on. They just can't help themselves.
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Re: Big Woods Buck Scrapes

Unread postby Singing Bridge » Mon Jul 20, 2020 1:14 am

oldrank wrote:
Singing Bridge wrote:
oldrank wrote:How do you hunt it or use it to your advantage in a hunting situation? Are you focusing on a specific time of the year to attack? Are you specifically setting up some of these to conduct inventory with tracks?


I greatly, greatly prefer REAL big woods scrapes. But I have conditioned some big woods bucks to hit my mock scrapes when needed. Sometimes the population of big woods bucks is so low that I try to give a destination to the only buck around. Again, location is key. One big woods buck was bedding part way up a bluff next to a huge swamp. Where the square corner of the swamp butted up against the bluff to the West, and Boreal forest running short ridges to the East, I put in a mock scrape. It took him a while, but when he found it he blew it out and started hitting it fairly often. The reason I put the mock scrape there was there should have been a scrape there in the first place, a big part of successfully having a buck take it over.

Again, just throwing out mock scrapes in the big woods is going to leave you so disappointed. Make sure there's a great reason for the scrape to be there.

I hunt a mock scrape in the big woods by setting up to intercept the buck on the way to it (early season) . The rut is always a good time to hunt them.

Great question on track inventory, and yes I absolutely set up mock scrapes to monitor bucks. My favorite is to put a scrape in near buck bedding where a main trail crosses a creek... then I monitor the buck tracks and relate them to bedding. If no water crossings are close by I will rake out track traps.

Being able to interpret tracks / droppings / beds / rubs / scrapes and more are vital skillsets for big woods hunting. I have a few trailcams, but I scout countless locations.



Very interesting. Kinda like putting up a fire hydrant on a corner for dogs to pee on. They just can't help themselves.


Spot on, oldrank.
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Re: Big Woods Buck Scrapes

Unread postby Boogieman1 » Mon Jul 20, 2020 8:13 am

Bridge.... Why do feel big woods scrapes are different from just say Midwest scrapes? I don’t hunt anything close to what u guys would call big woods. However my deer population is very low and I see a lot of what u talk about. I also see a lot of nomadic behavior and bucks that will flat move in daylight cause there is not a doe group behind every thicket. Curious what the soil composition is in big woods? In my area is dry rocky sand that just does not hold scent well. The majority of scrape type movement is just the overhead branch, typically one that holds cover and allows there scent to stick. Most cases the ground had no paw marks and if I didn’t witness several buck hit the same limb it would be impossible for me to detect.

In my case which the crappy soil u can dump a few bags of rich top soil and the bucks flock to it like the salmon of Capistrano. While yes most pics still be out night it’s the only thing in the area that is around to hold there secretions. Have had outstanding luck doing this in my area. Realize these are 2 completely diff scenarios but a lot of what u say matches my small woods with low deer numbers. Just found it interesting. Nice read!
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Re: Big Woods Buck Scrapes

Unread postby Singing Bridge » Mon Jul 20, 2020 10:54 pm

Boogieman1 wrote:Bridge.... Why do feel big woods scrapes are different from just say Midwest scrapes? I don’t hunt anything close to what u guys would call big woods. However my deer population is very low and I see a lot of what u talk about. I also see a lot of nomadic behavior and bucks that will flat move in daylight cause there is not a doe group behind every thicket. Curious what the soil composition is in big woods? In my area is dry rocky sand that just does not hold scent well. The majority of scrape type movement is just the overhead branch, typically one that holds cover and allows there scent to stick. Most cases the ground had no paw marks and if I didn’t witness several buck hit the same limb it would be impossible for me to detect.

In my case which the crappy soil u can dump a few bags of rich top soil and the bucks flock to it like the salmon of Capistrano. While yes most pics still be out night it’s the only thing in the area that is around to hold there secretions. Have had outstanding luck doing this in my area. Realize these are 2 completely diff scenarios but a lot of what u say matches my small woods with low deer numbers. Just found it interesting. Nice read!


I agree with you, the principles can absolutely apply to your hunting location. I made my posts rather specific in the hope that the average big woods hunter would be able to relate to the circumstances.

The soils in the dry areas I hunt are typically a sandy loam. Regarding the soil you mention, turning over the soil is what drives the bucks where I hunt crazy. Everyone is hung up on adding urine / synthetics but just like you discussed it is the fresh soil smell that drives the bucks wild... at least initially. Everything urinates and or defecates in the scrape in the big woods, raccoons / opossums / coyotes... etc.
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Re: Big Woods Buck Scrapes

Unread postby Scoutking07 » Wed Oct 14, 2020 7:19 am

Great thoughts Singing Bridge. I've dabble in bigwoods mock scrapes for many years now and have found a few things to be true. The licking branch, although not necessary for a buck to gain interest, certainly helps in creating a scrape that bucks believe is desirable for many deer to use. The best "repeat" visitor mock scrapes I've seen or even real scrapes, are the ones with big robust licking branches or multiple split branches for them to lick and rub. Without a good branch, I'm not interested.
I've also tried lots of different scents in scrapes and the only things that have noticeably produced mature buck return visits has been me-pee and to burry a Buc Rut scent waffer in the dirt of the scrape.

Just a few ideas that have worked for me. I mainly use mock scrapes to pull passing bucks in front of my cameras, not for hunting purposes as I don't like hunting near where I leave my scent to check cameras.
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Re: Big Woods Buck Scrapes

Unread postby Singing Bridge » Tue Oct 20, 2020 6:07 am

To me, big woods buck scrapes are simply a treasure... low deer populations (sometimes incredibly low) and the toughest conditions lend themselves to making them that.
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Re: Big Woods Buck Scrapes

Unread postby perchsoup » Tue Oct 20, 2020 1:07 pm

Singing Bridge wrote:To me, big woods buck scrapes are simply a treasure... low deer populations (sometimes incredibly low) and the toughest conditions lend themselves to making them that.


Great info Bridge. I think you kind of mention that a mock scrape placed correctly can manipulate a bucks exit/trail from bedding? Am I hearing you right? And if this scrape is a destination for the buck, can it then increase buck bed usage/prevalence if done correctly?
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Re: Big Woods Buck Scrapes

Unread postby tundra@1 » Wed Oct 21, 2020 12:14 am

good stuff. Even after 40 years of bow hunting, I have learned a lot reading this guys stuff.... Keep on charging........


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