Northeast reporter Mike Bleech noted a couple of important buck behaviors in his report. First, early season rubbing is usually not a sign of a buck working off velvet. Though some bucks might work over a sapling in order clean up their antlers, that's not the main purpose of rubbing; which is to advertise their presence to other bucks (there's some belief that rubbing also increases the strength in a buck's neck, sort of like working out). To me, the most important thing to remember about any early season buck sign (rubs or scrapes) is that they are almost always done by mature deer. Mike also points out that, once a buck sheds velvet, he now has the necessary testosterone to breed a doe. And he'll remain in this condition of readiness until he drops his antlers in late winter or early spring. So technically, the rut starts as soon as that velvet falls.