Deebz wrote:I would take more of a hands-off approach here... You already know there is natural scrape activity occurring, why not just wait and see which ones the deer use on their own, then set up close to those?
That way you don't have to worry about leaving too much of your human scent around, and you take the guessing game out of which ones the deer are using.
^I'd play it the same way.
There is such a thing as a licking branch, which is like a community sign post that deer will mark as they pass through the area. I've seen bucks, does, and even fawns address a licking branch. Often, there will be scrapes made under those branches when the rut gets cranked up. If you have a a scrape or scrapes that occur in the same area year after year, they may be related to a licking branch. I hunted an area that overlooked a section of old logging road and kept noticing that there'd be a scrape in the same exact spot year after year, yet there appeared to be no particular reason it was there in the first place. I hung a stand downwind nearby where I could observe it. Even in early bow season, the deer would almost take turns hitting that branch as they passed through. I hunted it a few times during early season and took a big doe in mid-September, but left it alone until almost the end of archery season. I ended up tagging one of the best bucks I ever shot with a bow who was working the scrape under that branch.
Right now at my house, where I feed, but don't hunt the deer, they are working a limb that I guarantee will be come a scrape during the rut. It is used exactly the same as the first one I saw & hunted over 30 years ago, where most deer mark it as they pass through the area. It's not exactly like a dog marking a fire hydrant, but it has to be similar.