whitetail buck rub facts

4 Myths About Buck Rubs

The pursuit of big bucks pushes hunters to the extremes, whether it be a 365-day-a-year process or an unhealthy obsession with chasing mature deer season after season.  This obsession for chasing whitetails leads not only hunters but content creators such as YouTubers and Outdoor Writers, as well has hunting-related brands to push ideologies that may be a stretch of the truth from time to time.

The opinion of hunters like you and I has led us to believe some crazy things through the years, some of which might be true, while others are a stretch from the truth.  Below are four myths about whitetail buck rubs that you should know.

Myth 1:  A Big Rub = A Big Buck

How many times have you been walking through the woods and stumble upon a big buck rub and your first response is that there must be a big buck nearby.  And you might be right!  Just keep in my mind that not all big buck rubs come from big bucks.  Here are two examples from my past that come to mind.

As a new hunter, there was a large pine tree behind my house that always had a big buck rub on it every season.  So just as any newbie would do, I set a treestand up nearby but never came in contact with the buck.  Once trail cameras came around, I set up a trail camera on the rub only to get photos of the same young bucks that I’d been seeing.  The season passed and still no big buck.  However, the next year, the same big pine tree was rubbed again and there wasn’t a mature buck around according to my trail cameras.  This early deer hunting lesson proved to be valuable in the years to come as I realized that not all big rubs come from big bucks.

Here’s another lesson about buck rubs that still puzzles me to this day.  I had been running a Spartan Cell Cam nearby treestand all season long, but during my walk into the stand, I found the biggest buck of life!  This tree was large enough to hang a treestand in and almost big enough to cut down during the next timber harvest on this property.  To put it in perspective, this tree was as big around as a basketball where it was rubbed.  I was dumbfounded because I didn’t have photos a buck that could have made that rub, but to my surprise, it was the 4.5-year-old 130″ 8 pointer that I had passed on just a week earlier at the same treestand location.  I wish I had a photo of the tree to show you how big and impressive the rub was.

So does a big rub equal a big buck?  The answer is….not always.  It’s not a guarantee but it certainly is exhilarating to see.

Myth Busted!!!

Myth #2:  Bucks Rub Trees to Strengthen Neck Muscles

Here’s a myth without merit, bucks rub trees to strengthen their neck muscles.  Biologists have theorized that one of the reasons bucks rub trees is to exercise their neck muscles for the battles that will occur during the rut.  That sounds like a good thought but have you seen how much mass bucks gain in the neck from the summer to the start of the rut?  Now, consider how much rubbing they’d have to do to get those kind of gains?

It doesn’t add up.  There’s no doubt that bucks are rubbing a lot during this time of the year but not enough to put on that kind of muscle.  However, this is an added benefit.

Myth Busted!!!

do big rubs mean big bucks

Myth #3:  Rubbing Trees to Remove Velvet

One of the easiest myths on this list to belive is that bucks rub trees to remove the velvet from their antlers.  This sounds very logical but it’s not the most practical way to remove velvet from a buck’s antlers once it’s time to start shedding.  Most bucks will use a brush pile rather than a tree to remove the velvet from their antlers.  Also, this isn’t a necessity because once the velvet dries out, it will naturally fall off.

Bucks may remove some of their velvet from their antlers by rubbing trees, but that’s not the preferred method for most deer.

Myth Busted!!!

Myth #4:  Buck Rubs are Territorial Markers

Here’s a myth that I believed, but not the way that it’s portrayed most of the time.  Many hunters think that rub lines, a series of buck rubs in succession indicate a line of travel. However, don’t look at rub lines as a definitive territorial marker that indicates a buck will not travel past it.

Science has proved that bucks travel a lot throughout the season and nearly every GPS study proves it.  There is no evidence whatsoever that bucks even have a territory that they’re fighting for, but they do have home ranges.  Home ranges often overlap, if they didn’t you’d never see more than one buck during a hunt.  Rublines are indicative to travel routes, while singular rubs are often made when a buck needs to blow off some energy due to increased testosterone around the rut.

Myth Busted!!!

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