spring beard and buck old rub postThis cedar post was located a half-mile off the Milk River, in a huge Montana wheat field where, for decades, at night from Halloween through November, 20 or more deer came to feed, mingle and breed under cover of darkness.

I figure the post was set by some ranch hands back in the 1940s or 50s. I figure that 10 to 13 generations of Milk River bucks have rubbed it into a perfect hourglass with their antlers since then; I mean you couldn’t have carved and smoothed it any better. I surmise bucks love the rubbing post because it is tall and smooth (the fence wire rusted away long ago) and still smells wonderfully of cedar.

Tactically speaking, the post is a “signpost,” blazed by bucks in a high-traffic spot where does and other bucks can see the post from far away and veer over to touch it, lick it, smell it and rub more on pre-orbital and forehead scent on it. It is both a visual and olfactory communication post for deer in the area.

With the rancher’s blessing, I lashed a rope to the fence post and yanked it out of the ground with a pickup. I felt a little sad, but I wanted the rub for a souvenir. It probably wouldn’t have lasted another rutting season anyway; most of the nearby fence posts had been snapped in half by the rubbing of frenzied bucks over the years.

Finding a unique and alluring thing like that post is a big part of why I still love to go hunting. On any given day you never know what you’ll see or find out in the woods.