It’s Beginng to Look Like Rub Season

Across much of whitetail range, the rut is a scant few weeks away. I’m hearing reports of a wide range … Continued

Across much of whitetail range, the rut is a scant few weeks away. I’m hearing reports of a wide range of buck behavior from my hunting buddies around the country. Yesterday my dad talked to a local hunter who shot a fine buck traveling in a five-animal bachelor group! Of course there are the usual “October lull” stories, but also tales of some classic pre-rut antics; chasing, fighting, grunting, lip-curling…my guess is that unseasonably cool weather (we had a half-inch of snow here yesterday) has bucks feeling their oats a little early this fall. If so, the next few weeks should see some incredible hunting!

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As we approach the rut, the ability to read and interpret sign will often separate successful hunters from the less-fortunate. I’m a rub-guy. Big rubs–like the one pictured above–tell me a whole lot of exciting things about the property I’m hunting. First, they mean “big deer”; little bucks will work a rub like this, but they don’t start it. Second, rubs are directional, meaning they tell me where a buck was heading before he leaned his head into a tree. This not only gives me a glimpse into feeding/bedding areas, but how the buck travels between them. And finally, the number of rubs I find indicate how often a big guy is using an area….the more I find, the happier I am!

There are, of course, other forms of sign that can lead to a close encounter with a nice whitetail; scrapes, beds, tracks, trails….all can play a role in helping hunter and deer shake hands. But as always I’m curious about your experience; what sign do you bank on when you’re putting together a pre-rut/rut game plan?