Whitetail Deer Buck Rub

3 Ways to Evaluate Rubs to Determine A Buck’s Rack Size

Article by: Nathan Killen

It’s hard to wipe the smile off your face when you come across a big, gnarly whitetail rub. Rubs can be a representative of a mature buck living in the area, but just like scrapes, not all rubs are created equal. Rubs can be made around bedding areas, travel routes, and other places. Rubs come in all sizes and degrees of damage done to the trees. Some are shredded, others hardly hit, some are large in diameter, and others hardly larger than your finger! 

Big bucks rub big trees, right? While there is some truth to that, it’s not always the case. Some smaller bucks are capable of rubbing larger diameter trees, and big bucks certainly rub small trees, but how can we distinguish the difference? For me, there are 3 things I look for in rubs to get me excited and feel like it was created by older age class bucks, which to me are 4+ years of age. 

Big Buck Rub Characteristics

  1. The height of the rub is one sign that gives you a good indication of a taller stature deer that likely wears a good framed rack. Most rubs, measured to the center of the rub are approximately 18-20” above ground level…pretty average! Rubs measured to the center that are 30” and higher start getting my attention! Those let you know you are looking at the evidence left behind from a mature buck, especially those 2-3” in diameter and greater. In some instances, I’ve seen tine marks higher than 5’.
  2. A tree that shows significant damage and gouge marks can give you an indication of rough bases and potentially extra character in the form of stickers and multiple brow tines, which is another indication of maturity and heavy body weight on a buck. 
  3. Lastly, look for destroyed and rung-off trees the size of broom handles with the tops distributed feet and sometimes yards from its mating stub sticking out of the ground! Older age class bucks leave you with that feeling of significance in the sign they leave behind. They do things with purpose, and the sign they leave behind often reflects their stature as well as personality! 



“Bigger is better” definitely applies to finding buck rubs and big bucks.