Buck Rubs And Scrapes- Tips For The Best Hunting

For deer hunters, recognizing the signs in the woods and the fields is the easiest way to track this animal. Two of the most recognizable signs are buck rubs and scrapes.

To have a great hunt, you must have a solid knowledge of these signs. Stay tuned and learn with us.

Buck Rubs And Scrapes Defined

Definition of Rubs

Deer Rubs (Photo: Wasp32)

To have a clear strategy for hunting, you need to understand the definition of these signs.

Buck rubs are defined as areas on a tree, usually, the size of an arm or smaller and buck deer often make them on the trunks of young trees, bushes, and small trees. 

Large bucks often create a very large rub that causes the tar on their forehead to stick to the trunk, creating a scent that other bucks can perceive. 

According to experts, buck rubs appear most during the deer’s breeding season and are scattered everywhere in their living area. Research shows that this behavior is the result of antler or territorial markings and gets other deer’s attention. 

Distinguishing how long the rubs stain has appeared also helps you easily locate the animal.

New rubs are usually quite wet, and the ground around the tree base will often have lots of small wood chips. As the rub begins to age, it will dry up, fade, and begin to fall off gradually.

Theoretically, bigger bucks will rub bigger trees, but this also depends on many factors such as their age, health, etc., so before making a decision, you must clearly define the kind of buck on the tree.

A tip to define is that all bucks usually rub about 1 to 3 inches in diameter. If it is larger, it means that rubs are made by three years or older.

The sign of the buck rubs also says a lot when it is in different states, for example:

Early rubs: This is done very early before shedding time; mature buck deers will begin marking their stand-sites territory for the upcoming season.

Community buck rubs: This sign shows up frequently in places where crowded bucks live or where they often pass.

Unplanned rubs: These scratches will probably be confusing to you at first. 

But if you are watchful, you will see that these rubs are very light, do not even peel the trunk, and are just accidentally created by deer

Therefore, this is an area they do not frequent, and you can ignore it.

Definition of Scrapes

Deer Scrape (Photo: nyantler-outdoors)

What about scrapes? While rubs are on the trees, scrapes are signs that appear on the ground. 

Scrapes are very noticeable; they are what you see when you hit an oval patch of bare dust in an area with lots of leaves or grass around. You may notice many small tree branches on the ground where those scrapes are present. The buck will use its claws to scratch the area it wants to mark and urinate around to create its path to create scrapes. Why do they do that? Just like rubbing, this is how they mark their presence and mark their territory.

Scrapes are also classified into many different types:

Boundary: they are generated when bucks cross their territory. These scrapes often appear along fences, fields, or old roadways. 

Bucks create these marks at night, and you can also guess the buck’s age by looking at the diameter of the scrapes made (if they are a little over 2 inches, the buck is about two years old or older).

Random: These are the signs created when the bucks move on the road that you do not need to pay much attention to.

Primary: These are the signs that hunters need the most attention. 

Why? Because they will appear in strategic locations that are perfect for your hunting, such as in corners, trenches, and especially trails in the middle of a foraging and ruting zone of bucks.

Tips For The Best Buck Rubs And Scrapes Hunting


Buck rubs and scrapes often locate hotspots of this animal. For a perfect hunt, you should know the following information.

First, look for places where this signal density occurs consistently. During your search, you will find many rubs or scrapes appearing dense and overlapping, which is good for you! 

These scrapes appeared probably because the bucks attracted and pulled other bucks to join, creating a large behavior. So please be patient and primarily focus on these spots. In addition, a rub or scrapes line is also a sign to locate the direction. In theory, they will always follow the direction of the trees to perform their actions; you just need to look in the direction the rubbing occurs to easily guess the direction and place your stand to catch bucks.

In addition, if you want the deer to appear in your desired area, you can set up fake signs because there is a possibility that they will pass through all those places, and you can hunt them easily.

Note to not rush to set up traps right at the first sign of rubs or scrapes you see, but pay attention to find high-traffic locations for the best results.

Also, take time to study their behavioral changes each season, especially during the breeding season, to mark the most suitable place for your hunt.

At the same time, be patient and learn to adapt well to their environment. Because bucks have an active and diverse habitat, they will move around if they find a more suitable location. 

Make sure to always do your research well before your trip because if you change your strategy as the deer changes areas, you will have a much higher chance of success. We also recommend you should bring the best american made rifle scope in deer hunting.


In short, buck rubs and scrapes are both signs of deer marking territory or attracting mates. However, they can be quite instinctive. 

To have a successful hunt, knowing the above signs is definitely a must. Hopefully you’ve gained useful information from our article.

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