Up big-buck odds with ‘scrape transplant’

Use bucks’ territorial nature to create ambush opportunities

Gary Frisbee hunts in western North Carolina’s high country near his home outside Hot Springs, where the deer herd isn’t particularly large. Still, the 28-year-old has killed plenty of big bucks in his first 15 years in the woods.

He learned a lot about deer hunting from some older hunters in his neck of the woods, and at least one of those tricks has brought a lot trophies into range.

There’s very little agriculture to draw in bucks in the steep, mountainous terrain, so zeroing in on food sources isn’t as effective as taking advantage of a buck’s proclivity to become territorial when the peak of the rut approaches.

Frisbee goes one step better than hunters who hunt lines of scrapes they find or even create mock scrapes by brushing aside leaves and breaking an overhanging branch — he actually transfers material from one scrape to another.

He calls it a “scrape transplant.”

“If I find a fresh scrape and I think it’s made by a big buck that I want to hunt, I’ll go to another place I think I can hunt, maybe a mile or so away, and I’ll find a scrape that a different buck has made,” he explained. “I’ll wear rubber gloves, and take a trowel and I’ll scoop out the dirt in the middle of the scrape — the dirt that looks damp from where he’s (urinated) in it — and I’ll put it in a Zip-Lock bag. If there’s a licking branch over that scrape, I’ll break the end of it off, put it in plastic bag and take it with me.

“Then, I go to the scrape I want to hunt, and I put the dirt from the other scrape right in the middle of my buck’s scrape, and I drop the part of the licking branch I’ve got in the middle of the scrape.”

And the hunter is almost guaranteed to see the buck that made the first pawing.

“When that buck comes into his scrape and finds that licking branch in there and the dirt from the other scrape, he’s really going to be really pissed, and he’s going to come back to that scrape a bunch and work it to try to catch the other buck in there,” Frisbee explained.

Frisbee is very careful about not getting any scent on the transplant material, hence the rubber gloves and plastic bag. He wants the buck he’s hunting to be totally consumed with finding and running off the interloper that seemingly has left its scent in the scrape and on the branch.

“If it’s not prime time when you put the dirt and the licking branch in there, it will be the first couple of days you get to hunt it,” said Frisbee, who got a trail-camera photo of a big 8-point buck in late August.

The hunter discovered a nearby scrape in early October and took the big buck while it worked the same scrape in late October.

It was a 130-inch buck Frisbee killed with his bow at a range of less than 10 yards.

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