Reasons to Understand Antler rubs – Part II

The dominant breeding buck in the photo above made one of the largest antler rubs I have ever seen. However — this size is not typical. The size antler rubs — on average — relate to specific classes of bucks.

Diameters of antler rubs are related to sizes or ages of the bucks that made them. The reason is, with testosterone beginning to peak during the season antler rubs are made, increasing aggressiveness, the creation of a rub on a tree soon becomes a mock battle. A battle between two bucks is a shoving match with antlers engaged, the loser being the buck that is forced to give significant ground (back up) and finally jump away to avoid being seriously wounded by the victor’s antlers. When battling a tree trunk, then, a buck wants to win. It wins when the tree trunk yields (bends away). Because the purpose of making a rub would be lost if the tree trunk breaks, bucks generally select trees to rub on that will yield but not break when attacked with fury. Thus diameters of tree trunks upon which antler rubs are made reflect the sizes (ages) of the bucks that made them.


Yearling bucks, for example, characteristically make rubs on ¾ to 1-inch diameter tree trunks, usually off-trail in feeding areas and often next to ground scrapes a foot or less in diameter.


Bucks 2-1/2 years of age prefer tree trunks 2–2-1/2 inches in diameter adjacent to well-used deer trails.


Bucks 3-1/2 to 6-1/2 years of age prefer tree trunks 3-6 inches in diameter, sometime more and sometimes less in their bedding areas, and adjacent to major deer trails within doe home ranges located within their much larger buck home ranges.

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