Alsheimer: Big Bucks Already Displaying Rut-Related Behavior

By Charles J. Alsheimer

Now that the peak period of antler growth is winding down, testosterone levels are ramping up. With that comes a host of rut-related behaviors. As July gives way to August bucks will scent-check a doe’s urine to determine her estrous status, and mature bucks will start to exhibit more dominant behavior over younger bucks in their area.

Alsheimer Deer and Deer Hunting

Bucks work licking branches throughout the year, but increase the frequency around the end of July to keep tabs on their competition. (photo copyright Charles J. Alsheimer)

Bucks will also mark their home ranges with increasing frequency. I took this photo a couple days ago and it illustrates how early bucks begin laying down scent. Though both bucks and does will work overhanging licking branches throughout the year, this behavior begins to increase in late July.

When a buck exhibits licking branch behavior he leaves scent from his nasal, preorbital and forehead glands on the branch, telegraphing his presence to every deer in his core home range. If the licking branch happens to be in a prime travel corridor many other bucks in the area will also leave their scent on it, which makes it a great spot to place a trail camera. Doctor up the branch with a little preorbital gland lure – and you’ll have a great tool to scout the bucks in your area throughout the seasons.

– Charlie


Recent research proves that the licking branch is the No. 1 key to success when hunting a mock scrape. Furthermore, the key to that licking branch is preorbital scent. Bucks secrete this scent as a means of distinctly identifying themselves from the “competition.” Bucks regularly visit licking branches and become aware when a new rival shows up — the licking branch has the scent of a guy they don’t know.

For the first time ever, preorbital lure is available to the general public and now can be yours! Each bottle contains matching glands from individual bucks and comes in a 1.25oz bottle.

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