Drag Rags, Mock Scrapes And Scent Lures

The rut is magic for big bucks. Here's how to make it even hotter.

Tim Knight | October 26, 2011

Tim Knight, of Dublin, with a fantastic bow-kill from Laurens County taken Oct. 29, 2010 using some of the techniques that Tim shares in this feature article. Tim uses scent lures on drag rags and when creating his own mock scrapes.

There are different ways for a deer hunter to use scents while hunting, but not near as many ways as there are types of scents available on today’s market. One thing to note is that all scents are not lures, but all lures are scents. The difference is a scent of any type is just that — a scent or smell in a liquid or solid form. A lure is just as it says it is, something used to lure game close to you.

For example, cover scents aren’t lures. Products used to make a person smell like pine or dirt are simply used to mask human odor. They don’t lure deer to you.

Scent lures, however, are designed to bring deer to you. Things like pure vanilla extract and its sweet smell is an excellent scent lure. Other scent lures would include doe urine, doe in heat, dominant buck or scents that imitate a food source. It is very confusing to walk down the sporting-goods aisle and see all the different types of scents and then figure out how to use them. In this article, I will discuss some different ways to use scents, focusing mostly on scent lures that will bring that big buck in for you this fall.

I will go ahead and tell you my favorite scent is Dennis Lewis Bowhunter’s Fatal Obsession (BFO). This is a scent-lure combination that lures deer to me but also functions as a cover scent. This is one reason I’m so fond of it. Plus, I’ve had tremendous success using this product.

This scent lure was developed by a trapper. Those with trapping experience know that if you can fool a coyote’s nose, then you can fool any animal.

However, there are some other very good products on the market. I’m sure you have your favorite scent lure, too, so just use your favorite with the techniques that follow.

It’s important to know that as a human, you can not be totally scent free to a deer or hog. You can, however, take measures to greatly reduce human odor.

Most people don’t consider that when using scent lures, the smell is traveling in the same direction their human odor is. An animal can’t smell a scent lure if the wind is not traveling toward it. If you place the scent lure up wind of your location, then the animal can’t smell it until it gets downwind. Ever notice how a smart deer or hog will try to circle downwind of your location to try to get the advantage on you?

In this particular situation, you could place your scent lure upwind and hope the animal walks between you and the scent lure. I bowhunt, so I would have to place my scent lure 25 yards upwind of my location. This would mean the animal would have to walk between me and the scent. This method will work much better for a gun hunter who has the option to place a scent lure several hundred yards away.

As a bowhunter, the broadcast method is one I use mostly when hunting. This method is simple. Make a bee-line straight to your tree and climb up. Then, take your scent lure in small amounts and broadcast it from your stand in a 360-degree perimeter around your tree. Do not walk around your stand and put it out. This will compromise the area around your tree with human odor.

The BFO bottle comes with a spray nozzle and a clear cap. This cap works great for pouring the scent lure into and then allows you to broadcast the lure all around your stand.

When Tim makes a mock scrape, he sprays his favorite scent lure in the scrape and on the licking branch.

While hunting, I like to mist scent in the air on a periodic basis. Keep the bottle at ready at all times in case an animal comes straight downwind. Mist in the animal’s direction if necessary. Your shirt or jacket chest pocket works great for easy access.

I also like to use my scent lures on a drag rag. I can’t stress enough the importance of wearing rubber boots when using a drag rag. Also, be careful not to touch the rag with your bare hands. Use rubber gloves.

This method is very simple. Just tie a piece of clean cloth about 6 inches square; a cut-up wash cloth works great. However, don’t get one of the wife’s good ones. Tie the cloth to a piece of cord at least 2 feet long. Now tie this around your boot at the ankle, and saturate the cloth with your favorite scent lure. I suggest you saturate the bottom of both boots with the scent lure and then walk to your stand. If it is a long walk or a wet one, you will need to refresh your scent at the half-way mark.

Once at your stand, remove the drag rag and hang it in a tree or bush close to your stand. I like to walk just past my tree and hang the drag rag up. As a bowhunter, I want the deer to walk past me to give me a broadside or quartering-away shot. The last thing I want is a deer to stop short of my stand facing me straight on.

You should store your used drag rag in a Ziploc bag for future use.

The mock scrape method of using scent lures works well and requires a little planning on your part. You will need a few tools, including rubber gloves, rubber boots, a strong limb 3 feet long to rake back the leaves and cool conditions. It will do you absolutely no good to make a mock scrape if you are pouring sweat while you are making it or you worked up a sweat on your long walk in.

The best time to make your mock scrape is midday. I like to find a good spot for a mock scrape. Scrapes are more likely to be visited in the daytime in the thick woods than they will be on an open field or open logging road. A great spot is just off a trail coming out of a transition area, such as planted pines and hardwoods or clearcuts and hardwoods. The edge of a cane thicket is a great place. Anywhere there is a definite terrain change could work.

When making your mock scrape, make sure you have a licking branch at least 4 feet over the mock scrape. Now spray the leaves in the area you are making the scrape. Then, take your 3-foot limb and rake the leaves back to create a bare-ground spot 3 feet square. Now place at least 2 ounces of your favorite scent lure in the mock scrape’s bare ground.

Grab the end of the limb of the licking branch above the scrape and bend about 6 inches of it straight down while wearing rubber gloves. Finally, dip the end of the branch into your liquid scent lure.

Now leave the area, and give it a few days before you come back to hunt it. You may have to freshen this mock scrape several times before you see any results. Pay close attention to tracks in your mock scrape. If does are visiting the scrape, this is a good sign. If a buck is cleaning it, this is a great sign.

Remember multiple bucks will visit the same scrape. Hunt it on the downwind side, but keep in mind that a smart buck will check the scrape on the downwind side. Like I said earlier, a scent lure does not work unless a buck is downwind and can smell it.

There is another technique that works when messing with scrapes. I like to call it the “switcharoo” method. This is a great way to challenge a buck’s territory and upset him something serious. I learned this method from turkey hunting. The only difference is that when dealing with turkeys, you deal with eyesight mainly. With bucks, you deal mostly with scent.

Tim uses a 6-inch square cloth drag rag to walk to his stand. He’ll then hang it in a nearby tree while he hunts.

For the switcharoo method, you will need your rubber boots, gloves, a set of pruning shears and a quart-size container. I use an old margarine tub that I cleaned very well. Now go to another piece of property around a field edge or somewhere you know bucks like to scrape and paw. Find a fresh scrape with a licking branch. With your boots and gloves on, cut off the licking branch at least 2 feet in length.

Now scoop up a quart of dirt from the middle of the fresh scrape. Take your licking branch and your scrape dirt to your hunting property, and pour the dirt into another buck’s scrape. Then, cut his licking branch off and replace it with the new one. Zip ties work well for this. Game on!

After at least three days, return to the area with your rattling antlers and call. A snort-wheeze call works great in this scenario. Most of the time the buck will re-clean his scrape and then hang around the area to wait for the intruder. As mentioned earlier, scrapes in the woods are much more likely to get a visit in the daytime than ones on the field edges or in open areas.

Good scents and lures are not cheap. Expect to pay up to $5 an ounce for a good lure. Using scent lures is just another way to help you bag that mature buck this fall.

Don’t be scared to try different things while hunting. Just think how most guys hunt: they go sit quietly and wait in hopes that a big buck gets up and walks by close enough to shoot.

Is this really a good way to buck hunt? How many turkeys do you think you would kill if you just go sit in the spring woods with no call in hopes that a gobbler will just happen by in gun range? It’s not likely going to happen.

We’ve talked about using scent lures on drag rags and in scrapes, but I wouldn’t be doing my job as a writer if I didn’t mention how to best control human scent.

The No. 1 thing is to play the wind. Also, make sure you bathe each time before you hunt. I use scent-free soap and deodorant. I use unscented Arm & Hammer deodorant.

Keep your hunting clothes clean. Store them in a trash bag with green pine needles. It is hard to hunt in Georgia without being close to a pine tree. Use pure gum spirits of turpentine mixed 50-50 with water, and put it in a spray bottle. Use this as a cover scent.

Also, pure vanilla extract 50-50 with water also works well. These are just a few helpful hints that have proven themselves for me. Make sure you don’t forget to spray your hat and your watch band. These are two stink-monsters that are often overlooked by hunters.

In a nutshell, I have tried to tell you how to use good sense when spending your cents, since GON asked how I used scents.

I have to go for now. It’s Oct. 10, and I have some scrapes that need working.

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