Friday, November 27, 2015

Deer Rubs Explained

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. In continuation of my hunting posts I have decided to explain buck rubs in a little more detail.



Rubs are great for gathering information about those big bruisers (you hope) that are hanging out in your hunting area. Rubs serve two primary functions for deer. First is to help rub off velvet from their new set of antlers. Normally this happens earlier in the season, late September and early October in most places, and seasoned hunters know that these marks are not necessary territorial. They are generally just good for the deer for getting that velvet off.

Second, bucks have forehead glands which they use as territorial markers for other deer. Rubbing is one way that these bucks mark their territory for other bucks in the area. Field & Stream has a good article on deer glands.

I really enjoy seeing rubs, especially big ones. As the season progresses you can really being to estimate the size of a deer based on the diameter of the trees being rubbed and the larger length of the antler marks. A little forkhorn buck is not going to rub a huge tree but may hit small saplings. A 10+ with a heavy rack will definitely hit a big tree. When you find a rub on a tree and the tree is at least 6 inches in diameter, chances are it is a big buck hitting it.

Bucks tend to rub trees in the same area one year to the next. It is not uncommon for them to rub the same tree. As long as that buck is still alive you actually have pretty good chances of being able to ambush him when he comes back to refresh the rub.

I would not pay too much attention to the rubs until the third week of November, when activity picks up again from velvet shedding. This happens when bucks are looking for hot does following the peak of the rut. These new rubs are normally found on the downwind side of thick brush where does like to bed down. So you can plan accordingly.

You can use rubs to pinpoint where bucks eat and sleep as well. The shiny side of the rub facing dense thicket? That is likely where breeding is taking place. The shiny side of the rub faces a food plot? That is probably where he goes to eat.

There are normally several kinds of rubs. Rubs that seem random in your hunting location are an indicator of a buck's home range. A rub line (20 to 30 yards apart each) indicate a common travel path for a buck. I would be careful not to constantly sit on the same rub though as that will quickly let a buck know of your presence. They are smart enough to start avoiding that rub. So rotate out how often you sit that rub. Every 3rd hunting trip is a good way to keep that buck guessing.

That is all for this week. Again, hope you had a great Thanksgiving and I hope you enjoyed the article above.