Elk rubs in winter/spring?


LAST EDITED ON Mar-30-17 AT 12:18PM (MST)[p]LAST EDITED ON Mar-30-17 AT 12:09?PM (MST)

I would like to know if anyone is knowledgeable about elk rubbing/ Scraping habits in the winter/spring. I'm most curious as to why they are rubbing at this time of year? I was out 3/28 and 3/29 in the same area both days and literally came across dozens of fresh rubs in one drainage. The ground was soft and could see tracks where the elk had walked since the snow melt and there was droppings just about everywhere. It was very apparent that these elk wintered here and that the rubs were fresh. The sap was wet and the foliage still green and one broken branch still had elk hair in it. I walked in on their bedding site and spooked the elk out at 25 yards, one bull still had antlers. The bedding area had heavily used beds with deep soaked urine spots that remained wet and smelly the following day when I returned. My guess would be that these elk are using these rubs for territorial or dominant reasons as it is apparent by the sign that these elk heavily use this area. My second guess would be as the antler reabsorbs calcium at the pedicle it may be causing some sort of itch that is relieved through antler rubbing. These are just my hypotheses but would appreciate any knowledge regarding this out of season behavior that I can't find any information on. If you are able to find information, I'd like to visit the site through a link. Thanks.




Active Member
I think they rub that time of year when they are ready to drop their antlers. When I am looking for elk horns and I see trees that are all beat up, I slow down and look a little closer. "MOST" of the time I find a horn or two close by. Maybe it is just luck??


Active Member
I've noticed the same thing and thought, like you, they were getting annoying some way and they would rub to get them off or something. I did find one close to a rub last year so this year I am really looking around the rubs I see. Have only found 1 this year and was not near a rub so we'll see how this pans out.



Active Member
I have found a whitetail shed in a bush. Could see where the deer had been rubbing, apparently to knock off the antler.


Very Active Member
My boy found a 6 pt the other day chock full of bark. They rub plenty in late winter/early spring, it seems more so right before they shed. Moose do it too.


Long Time Member
Saw the same thing out where I went shed hunting... small Cedars torn up all the way to the ground in some cases. Thought that might mean I was in a good spot!

Only found one deer shed. :-( :-(

"Therefore, wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion!" 2 Ne. 28: 24


Active Member
Have seen the same thing, but not very often. I thought it had something to do with shedding their horns.

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