A buck rub is the markings and shredding on the base of a tree caused by a buck rubbing, grinding, and grating his antlers against it.
In August and September, rubbing is just to help remove the velvet that is dying and drying up.
This type of rubbing is often done on brush, and not in a spot that is likely to be frequented by the buck again.
It doesn't really tell us anything as to the size of the buck or where he is bedding or even feeding.
Towards the end of September and through the first part of October, the reasons for these rubs, start to change.
Now, it becomes a way of releasing tension and strengthening the buck's neck in preparation for the upcoming rut.
Sometimes the buck appears to be simulating a fight as he pushes the tree around, making it sway back and forth.
These rubs can tell us the general location of where his bedding and feeding areas are, as they are usually made in his core area, as he goes along his daily routine.
A couple of weeks before rut and often continuing through the rut, the buck rub becomes a means of territorial marking, whereas they leave the scent from their forehead glands on the rubs, to let other deer know they are in the area.
Bucks may frequent these types of rubs regularly, but sometimes they don't.
They seem to prefer to rub on softwood trees, such as cedar and pine, that do not have lower branches on the trunk.
All bucks rub to some extent, but it is the mature, dominant ones that do the most rubbing. A mature, dominant buck may make close to 300 rubs in a year!
Big bucks may gore a tree and even surrounding brush can get damaged if he has a wide rack.
Generally, the larger the tree, then the larger the buck. This is not to say that big bucks do not rub on smaller trees also, just that small bucks do not usually rub on the bigger sized trees.
You can also have what is known as a community rub.
These are usually located in an area where several deer trails meet and cross.
This community rub was made on a cedar tree that was located in the corner of where a thicket and 2 separate pine groves, all separated by tractor paths, came together.
I had the honor of meeting Stan Potts and we discussed this photo I took. After he examined it, he determined that it was a community rub that was used by several large bucks, and he was not surprised to hear that the tree was located at crossroads, so to speak.
Occasionally, you may be able to find a rub-scrape combination, but this is not ordinary. Those are usually made by a very dominant buck.