Mock Scrapes And Profiling:
Last year I wrote an article for Woods-N-Waters News, “Secrets of mock scrapes, the deadliest tactic of all” and gave seminars at the biggest hunting shows around the country on this same subject. Never in my career as an Outdoor writer or as a seminar speaker has any one subject generated so much interest. Even to this day, nearly a year later while writing this article, I am still receiving countless inquiries through phone calls and e-mails, most callers are requesting the secret formulation ingredients which incidentally can be found on our” A-way hunting product’s” Facebook. For those of you who missed this article you can refer back to the September issue of Woods-N-Waters News, and for those of you who missed last year’s seminars. I will be briefly touching on this subject again at this year’s Woods-n-Waters Outdoor Weekend show, again giving out the secret mock scrape formulation.
This year’s new seminar is titled, “Creating the ultimate buck factory” (the article will be in a future issue of Woods-N-Waters News) and will broadly cover almost all aspects of growing and hunting big bucks, even in pressured hunting areas. Deer are creatures of habit, it’s always our goal to try to introduce new ‘bad habits’ to a buck in an attempt to occupy a portion of his day using man-made bedding areas, food sources and/or certain high curiosity causing type scents that we have invented and patented. Deer are not capable of reasoning as we know it, they are motivated only by their immediate needs; food, water, safety, curiosity, or reproduction and they will stand or bed anywhere in one place until one of these motivations arise. That means deer can be drawn into predictable situations, where we are able to hunt them or draw out a profile.
Profiles can be formed simply by observing a buck’s body language. Sometimes telling us that the buck is timid or maybe too aggressive and thus giving us information where we could tailor our tactics to fit these clues. Other times we can get a read on a buck by something he did, or didn’t do, even something we thought he should have done under certain conditions. Trail cameras are very telling, profile wise, especially when you capture the same big buck numerous times at different locations, and always at night. A profile on him will tell us not to bother with this buck after hunting him a day or two of the new bow season. Then backing out of the area completely so as not to give him a clue that we know of his presence.
Trophy bucks are unforgiving when they detect danger on their home turf. Short of an all-out hunter drives, big bucks usually are not seen by hunters unless they themselves make a critical mistake. If a buck is going to make a mistake it’s most apt to happen during a new season which offers a hunter the element of surprise. Bucks have been complacent for several non-hunting months, which can make them somewhat vulnerable. The best opportunity for a hunter to see a big buck is during the pre-rut/rut time frame, and the last great opportunity is when severe weather hits an area forcing deer to bed down for the duration. Once the storm passes by the deer must move again to find food.
Last year we had several trail cameras out during the summer months giving us excellent feedback on the local buck population. All were attracted to the area by either our minerals, mock scrapes, or our Whitetail Institute food plots, which kept them in the area. Every single mock scrape that we had started in the summer was being visited on a regular basis. It wasn’t just curiosity of the scent that kept bringing the bucks back, to them it was another form of communication, sort of like a sewing circle where the good old boys gather to exchange information about each other, which of course will be used against each other when the time comes (BFF forever, or until a hot doe enters the picture).
Out of the hundreds of pictures our trail cameras were capturing one picture virtually jumped right out at us, not because of the size of the buck’s antlers but because of what his body showed us. Here it was mid-July and what we discovered astounded us, the buck’s genitals had dropped months too early? This one photograph allowed us to correctly draw a profile on this buck. To us this meant that his testosterone level was already climbing and by the time his antlers hardened and he shed his velvet this buck would be fully capable of mating. But unfortunately for him mother nature would not allow any doe to mate at this time frame because the fawns would be born during the dead of winter, but most importantly, this buck didn’t know that. We knew right then and there that we had to find a way to exploit this buck’s misfortune.
My son Greg and I formulated a plan that would actually run counter to what every hunter had been taught or learned never to do, namely, use a doe in estrus type scent during a non-rutting situation, totally unheard of. We knew that our summer formulation would keep the buck interested until mid, or late September where it would eventually lose its appeal. At this point we would start applying a different scent designed to heighten the buck’s sense of curiosity like no other. In the meantime our trail cameras were capturing picture after picture of this same buck. We were elated to know that this buck had not changed his habits throughout the summer. We absolutely love using scents and normally we would have used a scent that we designed specifically for early bow season called Testosterone Fever, but instead, we would use another scent we had developed called “She Heat” (doe in estrus), an extremely powerful and highly effective scent.
Because of time constraints Greg would be up to bat first and the hunt would be filmed for our A-Way Outdoor television show on the Sportsman Channel. Our chosen point of interception would be near one of our Imperial Whitetail Clover food plots. We personally never hunt directly over a scrape, but chose different interception points leading into the area. This flexibility allows us to constantly adjust our stand sites for wind, as well as keeping the local bucks off balance. The last thing we want is to have a buck associate danger with whatever it was that we used to draw him into this location, especially the scrape area.
Minutes after strapping in our Hunter Safety harness’s several does and fawns came into the food plot to quietly graze. Barely 15 minutes later I caught a movement in the woods. Being the cameraman I was on a higher elevation than Greg, looking through my binoculars I could see antlers in the woods near the scrape site roughly 150 yards away. Just as I was alerting Greg to the fact the buck came running out of the woods and into the food plot.. We could see he had a wide rack and wasn’t the buck we had been monitoring, but he was a shooter. The buck was on the move and wasn’t slowing down. When I thought the buck was in Greg’s range I grunted to him softly with my deer call. The buck stopped perfectly broadside to us, Greg whispered that the buck was behind a tree? The buck started trotting again, but this time when I grunted to stop the buck it gave Greg the shot he was looking for, Greg released the arrow and I could see through the view finder that it was a perfect hit. After a short sprint the buck went down just outside of the food plot.
Unknown to me at the time we had totally different perceptions of our view of the food plot because of our different elevation heights. We had to laugh over the near blunder, but at least our viewers will see the importance of having and using a hands free deer call. Greg’s buck was a gorgeous 8 pointer, and best of all the whole episode was captured on tape, along with my near blunder, and then redemption. Greg would have to return to work the next day and I would continue the hunt and filming at my leisure, a benefit of being somewhat retired. Since there were no time restraints on me I decided to let this farm cool down a bit and check out some of our other farms. My plan called for changing stand sites upon my return, I would hunt a stand on the opposite side of the scrape deeper in the woods where deer trails converge leading toward the scrape/food plot area.
Four days later I rotated back on to this farm and the first thing I did was check the scrape, and sure enough, it was still being slammed. I re-freshened the scrape and licking branch with She Heat and quietly backed out. Minutes into that evening hunt I spotted a shooter buck walking down the trail toward the scrape, he had such a distinctive rack that I realized immediately that none of our trail cameras had ever captured this strange 10 point buck. If he offered me a shot I would take him. I ranged the buck at 53 yards and coming, when lo and behold he bedded down? The video camera was running, my heart was drumming, and my knees were shaking over this stalemate. It seemed like hours when finally a spike horn and a few does walked right by the bedded buck. That forced him to make a decision and he got up and followed them. The spike and does walked right by my stand at 18 yards and the buck was following, but he was taking a different run that would put him on an angle to pass me at 32 yards. As soon as the moving buck reached my last shooting lane I grunted to him softly, stopping the buck exactly where I needed him to stop. I could see the arrow zipping through both lungs with the buck making a mad dash, then crashing in plain view, all captured on camera. This was one of my most thrilling hunts in recent memory, and I was pleased to be able to share it with all of the fans of A-Way Outdoors. Ironically, the buck who brought us to this particular farm and who had actually dictated to us as to how we should hunt him, plus having caused two other bucks to get killed…was never seen again.
Fred Abbas is not only Michigan’s number one ranking trophy hunter with 49 trophy bucks in the record books, but he is the inventor of the popular Bowgrunter Plus and Dual Grunter deer calls along with “Scent Web” and several other hunting inventions. Fred will be giving seminars at this year’s Woods-N-Waters Outdoor Weekend on a hot topic you don’t want to miss this one. For more info go to www.outdoorweekend.net or call 810-724-0254.