Research years ago by Dr. Karl Miller, Larry Marchington and Matt Knox provided some good skinny on whitetail buck rubs. The highly regarded biologists found that when an area is blazed with a noticeably large number of rubs, dozens or hundreds, the peak of the rut often occurs days earlier than normal. The theory is that by depositing gobs of “priming pheromones” on all those trees, the bucks stimulate the does into early estrus. So if you find twice or three times as many rubs as usual in your hunt zone this fall, you might want to take off work and hunt a week earlier than you planned.

The number of rubs that pop up in the woods can also give you an idea of how many shooter bucks are working the area. Put simply, the more rubs, the more older-age bucks. “On one of our projects, we started out seeing about 700 rubs per square mile, or about 1 per acre,” says deer scientist Dr. Grant Woods. “After five years of management, as we increased the number of mature bucks in the herd, it had increased to 5,000 rubs per square mile, or 7.8 per acre. The size of the rubbed trees also increased significantly.”