Photo credit: Linda Freshwaters Arndt

1. Create a mock scrape

Scrapes are also an excellent scouting and monitoring tool. Bucks create scrapes in fall as a way to spread their scent and pheromones. They paw at the ground to clear leaves and debris, then urinate on it. Hunting and monitoring established scrape lines is a productive tactic, but you can also create your own mock scrapes, that whitetails will most likely take over as their own.

2. Add a licking branch

A licking branch is vital for a quality scrape. It hangs above a scrape, where deer will rub their face on it, to deposit scent. Deer use a licking branch throughout the year, though activity really ramps up as the rut nears. They will at times lick, chew, and rub it, but the main purpose is depositing scent from their pre- orbital gland on the branch.

The rope trick

An alternative to the licking branch is to use a rope. When a big buck cruises through, the odds are good he’ll stop to investigate it, and check out who left scent behind, giving you a relaxed shot as he sniffs, or works the rope. I have used one-inch manila rope, but hemp rope is another option. Natural material is far preferred over synthetic. I secure the rope to a limb above with zip ties, ensuring it can’t be torn off. Unravel the bottom end a little, so the rope strands dangle loose, allowing them to absorb scent. Hang this so the bottom is about four feet off the ground.

…And make a blind

Here are three ways to build a natural deer blind, with some inexpensive basic materials.

  • Find several small conifers in the area you want to hide. Then, cut some large spruce boughs. Stick these in the ground, and weave them between the standing trees, forming a wall of evergreens. You can make this quickly and easily. Be sure to ask landowner permission before cutting anything. Leave a few viewing/ shooting holes.
  • Find a large, full evergreen tree near a good vantage point. Look for one with branches that hang nearly to the ground, with a comfy spot to sit on the ground against the trunk. Cut the boughs where you’ll be sitting to give you a view. Leave enough branches so you have cover, but can still see out. I would also cut a Y-shaped stick to use as a shooting rest.
  • Gather 6-8 foot long fallen tree limbs or trunks. Stack them horizontally with the thick ends against a standing tree, forming two low walls in a V shape. This blind can hold up for several seasons.

Originally published in the Fall 2022 issue of Ontario OUT of DOORS

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