Matt writes from Michigan to ask about where to hunt a scrape line. He notes he's bowhunting public land in Michigan and found a nice scrape line. However, a return trip found other two treestands placed 30 yards on each side of the scrapes. He notes he's set up about 80 yards away off the main trail leading from the bedding area to the scrape line. He said the scrapes have not been hit for five-straight days.
Matt's question is whether all the new hunting pressure caused the bucks to leave the area, or if the rut simply had the bucks chasing does. Matt notes he did see a 6-pointer walk under one of the other treestands with his nose to the ground, but it did not approach the scrape line. And he wonders if he should move his treestand closer to the bedding area and use a decoy.
Matt, I believe that a buck could have hit a hot doe and that is why the scrapes are cold. In fact, the buck you saw walk under that stand with his nose to the ground, that did not visit the scrapes, was probably following a hot doe's trail. That buck and the others that visit those scrapes also could be impacted by human odor from the stands located nearby.
There is really no way to know for sure why the scrape line has gone cold, however. I've never been much of a scrape hunter ... well, not in past 15 years or so. I have much better success with rub lines. Of course, there is usually a hot scrape along that rub line, but if I were you, I'd probably move closer to the bedding area.
Do you drag a scent line (with hot doe urine)? I've had good success doing that this time of year. Take a small rag, or scent tab of some kind, and put hot doe urine on it. When you start, make a 6-foot circle, so that if the buck follows the line backwards, he'll circle around and come back to you. Put fresh urine on it every 100 yards, but don't use too much. When you are done dragging, hang the rag from a low limb 20 yards or so from your stand. And position it so that a buck walking in will hit that scent before he hits yours in the stand. I hope this helps.
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Dr. Dave writes a weekly column for sportsmansguide.com. If you have a question for Dr. Dave, e-mail your question to Dr. Dave in care of Tom Kacheroski, senior editor of www.sportsmansguide.com's content at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Dave studied deer for 30 years as a wildlife management professor at West Virginia University. In addition he has been a bowhunter for over 40 years, with deer being his main prey. He's also an outdoor writer and has been with "Bowhunter" magazine for 31 years.