Minnesota whitetail nut Billy Jerowski is a fair-minded, modern husband–one whose manhood isn’t threatened by doing dishes or hanging laundry. But he never imagined his domestic experience would improve his deer hunting. That is until after he’d been watching numerous bucks work scrapes, when it dawned on him that the licking branch doesn’t have to be parallel to the ground. “I realized that bucks love getting their antlers up into anything–a deadfall or a vine–whether it hangs vertically or horizontally,” he says. “That got me to thinking.”
The Scrape Line
Always ready to experiment, Jerowski drove to his hunting area and strung a wire tightly between two trees, like a clothesline. To this wire, he hung short lengths of rope, a green tree branch, even a section of grapevine. “I roughed up some dirt below the wire to start the scrape,” he says. “But I doubt I needed to. The bucks just hammered those overhanging ‘branches.’ When I came back to check my experiment, the little scrapes I started under each had been hit so many times they’d melded into one giant scrape.”
Jerowski feels his technique trumps the standard mock scrape for several reasons. “First, I can put it wherever I need it–no need to find the right tree, with the perfect overhanging branch,” he says. Second, hanging several different “branch” materials seems to ensure that a buck will become interested in at least one. “Bucks are curious, and once one starts getting his antlers up into one branch and pawing the ground, it isn’t long before other bucks are in on the action, and hitting all of them.”
When it comes to constructing this mock scrape line, the keys are “tight and strong,” says Jerowski. Bucks can pull down a light line easily, so use strong wire, cable, or a stout rope. Stretch it tightly between two trees, and tie it securely. “To attach the hanging vines or branches, I use zip-ties and I make sure they’re cinched down tight or bucks will pull them off,” he says. “You can scrape up the ground to get bucks started, but I don’t think it’s necessary. Once they start working those hanging ‘branches,’ the scraping comes naturally. In a couple of weeks you’ll have a super scrape right where you need it to be.”
Where you hang your “scrape line” should be determined by the best possible stand location. Start by picking a tree that offers a good combination of cover and shooting lanes. Then look for another similarly good stand tree nearby that will allow you to hunt a totally different wind. If you position your mock scrape line so you can shoot to it from either tree, you’ll have a buck magnet you can hunt in almost any breeze, and one that’ll stay hot right through the start of the rut.