I my previous post, I showed a closeup of this rub that was located at the entrance to a thicket that was being heavily used by deer at the time. This is a good example of a signpost rub.
Here are a couple others:
So what exactly is a signpost rub? A signpost rub is a large rub found on an aromatic tree like a pine or cedar that is used year-after-year by all the deer (bucks and does) in the area. It is usually in a high-traffic area and serves as a scent-based community communication station. It is believed that the phermones deposited on signpost rubs play an important role in communicating breeding signals during the rut, perhaps even stimulating estrus in does. I've heard reports of hunters observing does becoming extremely excited, bleating, and jumping around after sniffing a signpost rub, even going so far as to rub their genitals on it.
In a recent post on TnDeer, member foldemup posted links to these awesome trailcam videos of deer using a signpost rub. My thanks to foldemup for allowing me to link to them.
If you are observant, you will notice the dates at the start of the videos show that they were taken during the first week of January 2010. It is important to note that in Alabama, where the videos were taken, January is the peak of the rut - I may do an article on why that is later. Clearly the deer are more interested in sniffing the tree and rubbing their foreheads on it than they are in stripping bark off with their antlers.
So how does the presence of a signpost rub affect my hunting strategy? Well, that depends. Clearly if I had trailcam photos of a bruiser like the one in the first video clip, I'd be all over it. In the absence of photographic evidence, I would take into consideration the condition of the rub (does it look like it has been recently rubbed), the stage of the rut, and the absence or presence of fresh sign in the nearby area.
Just keep in mind that even though a signpost rub is on a large tree, it doesn't necessarily mean that a large-racked buck is in the area. As the videos above show, bucks of all sizes (and does too) will use a signpost rub.
Update: Got an email from foldemup with this link to photos of the ten pointer in the first video. Seems the big guy drew his last breath saturday morning. Hoping to get a full story to post including what role the signpost rub played in his strategy. Congrats foldemup.