Why do male white-tailed deer rub their antlers on trees?
Male whitetail deer rub their antlers on live trees during three main periods each year. In the early fall to
remove the velvet from the antlers, during the pre-mating and mating season and in late winter to help
remove the antlers from the buck's head.
Pre-mating and mating season: During early fall, the whitetail deer enters their mating season, often referred
to as the rut. Prior to and during this period, male whitetailed deer prepare a live tree to perform a scent
marking behavior of rubbing their sudoriferous glands located on their forehead on a bark stripped section
of the tree. The tree, with the bark stripped, is referred to as a buck rub and the tree or bush is often killed
or severally damaged. (See the answer for: How to try and save my tree after it was rubbed by a buck.)
Following the process of preparing the tree by rubbing it's antler on the tree’s base to remove the bark, the
buck rubs his forehead on the tree to secrete pheromones from the sudoriferous glands to act as an
olfactory signal to other male deer. Research suggests that the rubs establish dominance and hierarchies
prior to and during the whitetail deer’s mating season and serve to induce female white-tail deer into estrus. It
is typical for a male whitetail deer to rub from 400 to 800 trees in a season!
What type or size of trees do bucks like to rub their antlers on?
What are the ranges of White-tailed deer populations in the US?
|The yellow areas on the US map
represent the range of the
whitetailed deer. They live in
wooded areas and farmland.
Can a tree heal after damage by a deer's antlers?
Not all trees that have been rubbed by a deer's antlers die. Most times, it depends on how much damage the
deer has caused on the tree's bark. The bark transports the nutrients from the leaves and distributes it
throughout the roots and branches. If the bark is damaged, the tree's survival becomes endangered. If the
rubbings completely remove the bark from the trunk, the tree will die. For trees whose bark has not been fully
removed, the tree may survive but permanent damage may occurr instead. During the spring, which is a rapid
growth timing for trees, they are most susceptable to this damage-- the bark is easier to slip off which means
that the tree has a higher rate of dying. If the cambium of the tree remains intact, it has a chance to heal.
So yes, a tree may be able to heal after damage by a male deer's antlers if the damage from the antlers do
not entirely encircle the tree's trunk, damaging the phloem or xylem layer (outermost layers of a tree's trunk).
If the bark of the tree is scraped 360 degrees around, there is a high chance that the tree will die.
Do Tree Wraps damage trees?
Our products are manufactured in colors and patterns that replicate the colors and patterns of several
popular trees. The match in bark patterns provides an esthetically pleasing solution while also providing
similar heat absorbency characteristics of the natural trees thus minimizing the impact of the tree protector
on the trees growth. Additionally, our light reflective materials minimize heat absorption by reflecting the sun’
Frost Cracks result when a dark colored tree protector/wrap absorbs heat from the sun during the cold
winter days causing an increase in water and nutrient flow in the tree ‘s trunk. When extreme winter
temperature fluctuations occur, the moisture in the trunk freezes resulting in damage to the tree from a
vertical crack into the trunk’s wood. Research has shown that this increased flow of water and nutrients into
the winter months results in trees entering dormancy later in the year, compromising their survival. In the
spring, the tree enters it’s growing season earlier and becomes more susceptible to the temperature
fluctuations of our spring days and nights.
In addition to selecting a protector with similar color to the tree you are protecting, appropriate use of our
product is to select a tree protector size that fits loosely on the trunk of the tree providing an air gap
between the trunk and the protector. This takes advantage of the “Chimney” effect for any absorbed heat
and when combined with our ventilation holes on the protector, allows the heat to escape thus reducing
increased water and nutrient flow in the tree, due to elevated temperatures in the cold seasons.
Similar to Frost Cracks, Sun Scald is a vertical crack in the tree bark that typically occurs on the south or
south west side of a tree when the sun heats up the tree trunk and increases moisture in the trunk. Sun
scald cracks typically are shallower than a frost crack, not cracking the trees wood fibers. Our reflective
coating and selecting an appropriately sized wrap reduces the effects of sun scald on a tree.
Research has shown that neither frost cracks nor sun scald are fatal to a tree but rather, result in a wound
to the tree that promotes disease or allows insects to enter the tree. Once a tree becomes established, they
become less susceptible to frost cracking or sun scald.
Our protectors expand with the growth of the tree however; we recommend that you remove the protector
prior to the tree’s growing season. Research supports our recommendation although, as people, we often
forget to remove the tree protectors. The pictures displayed on our HOME page were taken during July, well
into the growing season of our area. Additionally, our protectors are offered in several sizes to
accommodate many of the tree sizes often assaulted by bucks.
Girdling results when a tree protector/wrap restricts the growth of the tree resulting in reduced flow of water
and nutrients. Girdling often occurs when the protector is too tight around the tree or the tree protector is
left on too long.
Why does my tree die after being rubbed by a buck?
Not all trees die after being rubbed by a buck. It depends on the extent of the damage to the tree’s
protective armor, its bark. The tree’s bark serves to transport nutrients from the leaves to the roots via the
phloem layer and also carries water and minerals from the roots to the leaves in the xylem. If either of these
layers are significantly damaged, the tree’s survival is jeopardized. If the rub removed the bark completely
around the trunk, stopping the transport of water and nutrients, the tree will die. For those trees the bark
was not removed completely around the tree, the nutrients and water will be able to be transported between
the roots and the leaves. The tree may survive however, permanent damage and growth rates are
How do I care for a tree after damage by a deer's antlers?
Latex is not a plastic. It's organic, made from the sap of rubber trees collected through an absolutely
harmless tapping process (very similar to that used for collecting the maple sap used for making syrup).
Moreover, latex is totally biodegradable. A latex’s molecular structure begins breaking down when exposed to
sunlight and the atmosphere. Within three hours, most latex balloons released into the atmosphere rise to
approximately five miles, begin to oxidize, freeze and shatter into spaghetti-like pieces. Once on the ground
gases and microorganisms attack the latex, continuing the natural decomposition process — even in the
Scientific research, most notably by D.K. Burchette in, “A Study of the Effect of Balloon Releases on the
Environment,” demonstrates that latex balloons decompose at a rate equal to — or faster than — an oak leaf
under similar conditions.
What is latex and is it a form of plastic?
If a tree is damaged completely around its circumference, it is girdled. Trees that are girdled frequently die
because they are unable to carry nutrients and water that they need through their trunk. It may take these
trees from one to three years to heal (depending on the species of the trees and the size). If a tree is
damaged semi-severely (antler scrapes vertically up and down along one side of the trunk), it may survive
although the damage may cause it to die on that side. Trees are capable of surviving most of the damage on
their own. However, it is best not to interfere with a tree's healing by using a dressing or burlap strips. One
way to care for the damaged tree is by using a sharp knife to cut off jagged pieces of bark around the edge
of the wounds. Cutting into the wounds in an elliptical or oval shape will help the tree heal faster.
Many deer return back to their territory later on during the season. To prevent even further damage from
their antlers, you should encircle the tree with a barrier or apply a scent deterrent.
The Buck Bio-Ball is manufactured using a natural latex rubber from the rubber tree, hevea brasiliensis.
Natural latex is a milky fluid that is known to contribute to allergic reactions in some people. The natural latex
contains hevamine, hevein and rubber elongation factor, proteins that can be absorbed through the skin or
inhaled causing allergic reactions. Allergic reactions can affect the skin, eyes, mouth, nose, throat, lungs and
heart. Symptoms range from skin rashes, redness and itching to dizziness and abdominal pain.
According to OSHA, almost 6 percent of the general population is allergic to latex. Between 1988 and 1992,
the FDA, Food and Drug Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services received more
than 1,000 reports of adverse health effects from exposure to latex—including 15 deaths. According to the U.
S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) bulletin, "Potential for Allergy to Natural Rubber
Latex Gloves and other Natural Rubber Products.", reports indicate latex allergies are increasing.
If you are allergic to natural latex, exercise caution when unpacking and handling the Buck Bio-Ball. Wear
protective gloves, a mask and eye protection to avoid exposure to the natural latex utilized to manufacturer
the Buck Bio-Ball. If you experience any of the symptoms including skin rashes, redness and itching to
dizziness or abdominal pain, consult a physician immediately.
Warning to consumers with Latex Allergies:
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Landscape Protection Solutions
Observe the bulge below the
wrap. The wrap should be
removed from the tree to
prevent the tree from dying.
Any healthy tree can become a target for the damage by antler rubbings. In early fall, bucks usually rub their
antlers against small trees. However, they will generally rub their antlers on small, flexible trees. Research has
shown that the age of a white-tailed deer impacts the size of the tree selected to rub. Also, certain trees such
as oak, dogwood, and cherry trees give off a scent that male deer find attractive (rubbing their antlers on
these trees the most).
Protect your trees from
damage by girdling and frost
cracks. Click here.
|A portion of
profits will be
donated to NJCF.