How Many Rubs Does a Buck Make?

September 10, 2012 By: Kip Adams


Not seeing many rubs and scrapes in your area? This may be directly related to an absence of older bucks.

Just how many rubs does a whitetail buck make each year? That depends on the buck’s age, and older bucks make more rubs. According to the University of Georgia’s Dr. Karl V. Miller, one mature buck can make 1,000 to 1,200 rubs per year. Considering most rub activity occurs in a time period of about three months, that is 10 to 15 per day. This means a deer herd with an older age structure and balanced sex ratio can produce over 3,000 rubs per square mile!

Contrast this to a deer herd with a young buck age structure where yearlings make less than half as many rubs, and you may only have 400 to 500 rubs per square mile. By the way, yearlings also only make about 15 percent as many scrapes as older bucks. This equates to less sign for hunters to observe, fewer prime places to hang a trail-camera, and fewer “communication” posts for deer to exchange information.

For hunters, this is one of the greatest benefits of Quality Deer Management. As you improve the buck age structure by protecting immature bucks, and as you improve the buck:doe ratio, all breeding behaviors become more obvious and more intense. Rubs and scrapes are more common. Chasing, grunting and fighting are seen more frequently. Hunting techniques like rattling and grunt calls are more successful. In short, we see more of the things that make deer hunting fun!

About Kip Adams:

Kip Adams of Knoxville, Pennsylvania, is a certified wildlife biologist and NDA's Chief Conservation Officer. He has a bachelor's degree in wildlife and fisheries science from Penn State University and a master's in wildlife from the University of New Hampshire. He's also a certified taxidermist. Before joining NDA, Kip was the deer and bear biologist for the New Hampshire Fish & Game Department. Kip and his wife Amy have a daughter, Katie, and a son, Bo.