When Do Bucks Use Signpost Rubs? | 4-Month Trail Camera Study

Big Buck Using a Signpost Rub
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In this post, we are going to cover when bucks use signpost rubs. Information in this article is based on one trail camera left over a signpost rub from July 31st to December 31st to see what buck activity was like for these four months. I got some interesting information with this trail camera.

This signpost was on a black ash tree that has been rubbed for many years and I was curious to see the buck activity of this signpost throughout the Maine hunting season. I left a camera in the woods for the entire hunting season without checking them until the season was over.

When Do Bucks Use Signpost Rubs?

Based on trail camera information and observations while tracking bucks in the snow it appears signposts were used by bucks for the entire 4-month observation period. That said, as the months progressed, there were some changes to how bucks used signpost rubs.

Do Bucks Use Signpost Rubs In August and September?

Surprisingly, bucks were found using the signpost rubs during the early part of the season frequently. That said, these bucks were young. It appears that younger bucks were more active at this time of year and often visted the signpost rub, even in velvet. For the most part, they didn’t rub their antlers on the signpost at this time but were scent checking it.

It also appears that the young bucks that did visit the signpost were repeat visitors. It’s likely this signpost was located in these smaller buck’s core area because many pictures were taken of the same few small bucks.

When Do Bucks Use Signpost Rubs In October and November?

Local bucks started actually rubbing the signposts starting on October 1st. Before this, they were scent-checking by sniffing the tree.

New bucks (non-local bucks) did not show up until the last week of October for the most part. The signposts were then used by non-local bucks periodically for the entire month of November. 

Bigger bucks seemed to only become active starting during the last week of October. Based on this information it is unclear if big bucks prefer to only move and check signposts during the rut or if the signpost I was observing was not in a big bucks core area during the early part of the season when bucks don’t move much.

My hypothesis is that big bucks were in the area and just preferred not to travel until the start of the rut (last week of October). This is unlike younger bucks which frequented the signposts much more often and throughout the entire 4-month period. I think bigger bucks know to conserve their energy for the right time of year.

Unlike early in the season, none of the bigger bucks were captured on camera a second time. So it appears these bigger bucks were using the signpost to gauge deer activity while they were in the area briefly.

Do Bucks Use Signpost Rubs In December?

Signpost scent-checking by non-local bucks declined in December. With the rut winding down it appears there was less interest in the signpost. It appeared to still be used for scent checking but the signposts were not rubbed on and no big bucks were observed during the month of December.

Signpost Rubs and Daylight Activity

It also appears that the biggest bucks used the cover of darkness to their advantage when checking signposts. I expected to see big bucks using signposts just as often in the daylight as dark during the rut in the big woods. More data will need to be collected to determine if big bucks prefer to use signposts at dark.


I think more trail cameras on different signposts are needed to get a better idea when bucks use signpost rubs. That said, it is clear that bucks will use signposts all year long because they are a communication rub for bucks in the area. They also seem to act as communication hubs for new bucks entering an area during the rut. It also seems like big bucks are less likely to use signposts until the rut starts in late October.

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Signpost Rub Trail Camera Photos (July 31st – Dec. 31st)

Below is every trail camera photo that was taken by the Moultrie trail camera I had placed over the signpost from July 31st to December 31st. I chose to keep every photo so you can see exactly how deer use the signpost rub throughout the year (This has been deleted because there were too many photos, please see YouTube video above for this information).

Article Written By: Jason Tome

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