Whitetail Licking Sticks
July 31, 2018admin bowhunting, buck sign, cedarantler, deer hunting, deer licking stick, hunting tips, licking stick, licking sticks, whitetail licking sticks, whitetail rut
When it comes to finding buck sign in the deer woods, nothing is more predominate than a buck rub that can be seen from a distance. Rubs serve as a visual signpost to other deer, as well as an olfactory sign from the deposition of the forehead scent gland.
Bucks use a variety of ways to deposit their scent within their home ranges, which include rubs, scrapes, licking branches, and licking sticks. Most hunters are all aware of the common signposts left behind by bucks, but the licking stick is a lesser known signpost that is commonly overlooked by many hunters.
Licking sticks are harder to find than the traditional signposts we are accustomed to seeing. A licking stick’s only visible characteristic is that its bark will have been rubbed off the top of the stick 8-10″ from the top. Licking sticks are typically found within the timber, and are usually a 30-40″ high sapling no more than one inch in diameter.
Little is known about how and why a licking stick is made. It is my guess that a licking stick starts out as a rub on a sapling and is rubbed so vigorously that it becomes snapped off or broke in half, from there it becomes a useable licking stick for the bucks. Since it started out as a rub, the sapling already holds the scents deposited from the buck, and therefore still plays a vital role as not only a visual signpost, but also as an olfactory sign. Licking sticks become magnets for bucks. Whitetails are curious creatures, and the sight of a visual signpost such as a licking stick will draw the attention of any buck passing by. A buck will use the licking stick similar to a licking branch, the only difference is that this stick is not a over-hanging branch. A buck will deposit his calling card, or scent on the stick by rubbing his forehead gland and pre-orbital glands on it. When another buck approaches it, he will lick it in order to determine who else is using the licking stick in the area, he will then leave his calling card on it as well.
Licking sticks aren’t as common as scrapes and rubs when it comes to finding buck sign in the woods, and honestly, most of the licking sticks I come across are in the off season when I’m shed hunting or doing some post season scouting. You should never purposely go out tromping through the woods in search of a licking stick during hunting season, as you’ll only educate the deer and possibly bump them from their core areas.
So why should we pay attention to licking sticks, and how can we use them?
Anything we can do as hunters to put the odds in our favor when hunting whitetails is worth trying. Implementing a licking stick into your hunting strategies can help put more deer within bow range, and possibly put the biggest buck right in front of you. Licking sticks to a buck are like fire hydrants to a dog, they will attract every buck in the vicinity.
A mock licking stick is simple to make, or if you have some rubbed saplings in an area you plan to hang a treestand, you can modify one of the already rubbed trees. As with any mock scrape or rub, scent control is crucial when prepping a mock licking stick. If you are using a sapling that has already been rubbed, you can cut the sapling to a height of 30-40″, and then use a quality forehead or pre-orbital gland scent on the exposed area you cut (or a combination of both lures).
If you are starting from scratch, simply select a sapling within bow range and away from the main trail, and strip the bark from the tree and cut as mentioned above, and apply your scents. The forehead and pre-orbital gland lures are very important when creating a mock licking stick, or licking branch for that matter. The added scents will create the illusion that another buck is in the area and will raise the curiosity of the local bucks, causing them to frequent the area more often in an effort to find the new intruder.
The purpose of any rub is to draw the attention of other deer. Buck rubs are signposts. They are visibly attractive and carry the maker’s glandular secretions, and licking sticks are no different.
By: Brandon Moon