Making Some Mock Rut Scrapes with “Sturgis Vines”
Russ Chastain 08.24.20
(Photo © Russ Chastain)
I’ve been watching Jeff Sturgis’s deer hunting videos for a while now, and the guy seems to know his stuff. I mean, he gets tons of photos and videos of great bucks, and he gets the deer to go where he wants them to be.
One of his “tricks” is constructing fake rut scrapes, commonly known as “mock scrapes.” They quickly become “non-mock” scrapes because deer begin using them regularly. He likes to place them near stand locations where it’s easy for deer — every deer that walks by — to use the scrape. Click here to view a post with some pointers as far as “what not to do” when making a mock scrape.
I’ve been interested in this for a while, and this year I decided to try a couple for myself. Most interesting to me is Jeff’s use of a dangling vine as a “licking branch.” Every rut scrape has some sort of something above it, most often a tree branch, which deer will lick and rub against their preorbital glands (near their eyes).
I have seen hundreds of scrapes over the years, but until Jeff’s videos I have never seen one without a branch above it. But his Wisconsin deer use the heck out of his scrapes and all he does is hang a vine vertically above each one. So I decided to give it a try in Georgia to see if Southern deer will fall for those Yankee tricks.
I’d been kicking the idea around for a while, and when I moved an old stand to a better location I found some perfect vines to try. They were wild muscadine vines, so I followed the “Sturgis prescription” and cut a couple hunks about 5 feet long and 3/4″ to 1″ diameter.
I decided to build my first scrape near the stand where I took the “b’doe” last season; you can read about that by clicking here. It was a bit of a hike to get there and as the temperatures were above 100 degrees with high humidity, I elected not to carry a ladder along.
After some exploration I finally decided on a spot along a game trail which was visible from my stand. That’s when I really missed having a ladder. I needed to create a way to hang this vine above the spot I’d picked, and that meant stringing a rope from one tree to another, up high. In the end, I tied one end of my rope around the pine tree closest to my scrape, and made a slip knot. Then I worked it up the trunk a little at a time using my brush hook, until it was as high as I could manage… then I pulled it tight using the slip knot. Not perfect, but it’ll do.
I then lashed the vine to the rope. I wanted the bottom end of the vine to be belly-high to me as per Jeff’s recommendation.
From there, I bent over a limber hickory tree and ran the rope around it at the correct height, allowed the tree to straighten back up, and secured the end of the rope to a limb. I even peed in the scrape to “prime” it.
When I set up a tree stand at a new location I found the opportunity to create another mock scrape. This stand looks down a rarely-used trail, and a deer trail crossing the main trail 40-50 yards from the stand provided a good location for a mock scrape. I wanted the scrape pretty much in the center of the trail right where the critters cross.
I hadn’t brought a ladder but I did bring my UTV, which I parked beside a pine tree on one side of the trail and then climbed up on the roof to tie off the end of the rope. Then I estimated the length & location of the vine rope and attached it.
Then I moved the UTV to another pine across the trail and climbed back up, ran the cross-rope around the tree, and checked on the vine. I had to then slack the cross-rope to adjust the vine location and try it again. It took a couple tries to get it just right, at which time I tied off the cross-rope.
The stand still needs some work, including a rail and some sort of “skirt” to help conceal the hunter. Once that’s done, I hope to have a nice setup that’s off the beaten path and where each deer that crosses on the game trail will pause to check out the scrape, giving me ample opportunity to observe it.
Will this work? Heck if I know… but I should have the opportunity to find out before too long, and I’ll be sure to let y’all know.