Way back when I was just learning to hunt I was like everyone else. Videos, outdoor TV and the Internet weren\u2019t invented yet, so I gathered my deer hunting information from magazine articles and other trusted sources\u2014mainly my dad, my uncles, my granddads, and some classmates at school. A lot of that information was wrong, but how was I to know? We had nowhere to get what wildlife biologists hadn\u2019t yet discovered, because most of the scientific research on whitetail deer hadn\u2019t been done yet!Mature bucks come to your licking branches treated with pre-orbital gland lure because they need to know who their competition is. And they get even more interested during the rut.I chalk up some of the things we believed to that social sin we call male chauvinism. For example, I was taught that bucks were much smarter than does. They were so smart that they\u2019d check to see if the coast was clear by letting the doe enter the field first. If she didn\u2019t get shot at, Mr. Big would know it was OK to follow.Well, not exactly. The real truth? He probably stayed behind her because he liked the way she smelled.Another idea handed down was that when bucks created scrapes they would also create a licking branch above the scrape. They\u2019d chew on that branch and tangle their antlers in it as they worked out their frustration during the rut.Not exactly. The real truth? That licking branch is not limited to the rut, and it has little or nothing to do with a buck\u2019s sexual frustration. In fact, we now know that\u2026 bucks use licking branches 365 days a year.\u2026 bucks have lots of licking branches, and don\u2019t always create a scrape under them.\u2026 bucks use the licking branch to communicate with other bucks.Although bucks may not put a scrape under a licking branch in March, they do use licking branches to let other bucks in the area know of their presence. This buck is just beginning to grow antlers.\u00a0 (Jim Riggle photo)Although bucks scrape the ground all year \u2019round, they do it mainly during the pre-rut leading up to the annual breeding frenzy. But licking branches are active even when bucks don\u2019t open scrapes under them. All through the year the licking branch is essentially a community bulletin board where bucks find out who their competition is.This means the licking branch is critical to understanding buck behavior. But the main activity at the licking branch isn\u2019t the licking, or the chewing, or scraping the ground under it. Nor is it the antler rubs you\u2019re likely to find nearby. The main activity at the licking branch involves contact of the pre-orbital gland area to the branch. The pre-orbital gland is just what it sounds like\u2014it\u2019s a gland located in front of (pre) the eye (orbital).Dr. Dave Samuel, 30 years a professor of wildlife management at West Virginia University, told me about a research project at Missouri State University by graduate student Josh Braun. \u201cIn Braun\u2019s studies,\u201d Dr. Samuel said, \u201c57% of the interaction with the licking branch involved rubbing the pre-orbital gland.\u201d That\u2019s more than the forehead gland, more than chewing the branch, more than thrashing it with antlers, more than anything else.Every buck secretes a substance from the pre-orbital gland that carries his unique smell. When he applies it to a licking branch, he announces to other bucks that he\u2019s in the area, and he\u2019ll be in the game when the rut comes. Knowing that, here are some answers to the main questions my early whitetail advisors didn\u2019t know:Why do scrapes and licking branches go together? Most of the time they don\u2019t. Outside of the month or so leading up to the rut, most licking branches don\u2019t have a scrape under them. All year long bucks use the licking branch as a place to deposit their scent so other bucks know of their presence. When the rut comes the activity picks up. Bucks, especially mature bucks, know what\u2019s coming and they begin scraping the ground and leaving other scents at the site.What is the buck doing when he \u201cworks\u201d the licking branch? He\u2019s posting his \u201ccalling card,\u201d his unique scent from his pre-orbital gland. By applying his pre-orbital scent, he is telling other bucks of his presence. A mature buck who has been through the rut before might even be telling the others that they\u2019ll have to reckon with him when the rut comes. This helps the bucks in a local bachelor group keep tabs on each other and establish the pecking order. And when a new buck shows up (or the scent of a new buck from a hunter applying pre-orbital gland lure), the others want to know \u201cWho\u2019s the new guy?\u201dWhy is the tip of the licking branch broken? When a buck puts his own scent on the licking branch, he simple touches the branch to his pre-orbital area. But to get the scent of another buck, he may lick it or bite it, and analyze the scent he picks up. Closer to the rut, he tends to become more aggressive, biting it more and thrashing it with his antlers. He\u2019s saying, \u201cI\u2019m somebody you\u2019re going to have to reckon with!\u201dHow can a hunter capitalize on the licking branch? What can the whitetail hunter do to use pre-orbital gland lure to take a nice buck? Two things.First, by applying pre-orbital gland lure to licking branches, and placing trail cameras to watch them, you\u2019ll capture a photographic inventory of the bucks in the area. You\u2019ll be able to study the bucks, watch their antlers grow, and know what your \u201chit list\u201d is. Scraping the ground (even outside the rut) adds a visual indicator of buck activity. It\u2019s difficult for deer to ignore fresh dirt, no matter what time of the year it is. So a scrape below the licking branch can increase buck activity there at any time of the year.Second, you\u2019ll be able to select places for treestands where the bucks most frequently visit the licking branches. Often they\u2019ll show up after dark, but once the rut begins to heat up, they could appear at any time of the day.How can we be sure this works? When it comes to whitetail behavior, we don\u2019t have many guarantees. But the way a buddy of mine discovered licking branch activity is worth mentioning. Jim Riggle got a trail camera photo of an enormous buck, and naturally got excited. But he couldn\u2019t get any more photos, and feared the buck was a resident elsewhere and was just passing through. Finally, he showed the picture to a trapper friend who had a hunch about how to get that buck in front of a trail camera again. \u201cI\u2019ll make you up a lure,\u201d Smokey McNicholas said, \u201cand that buck might show up again.\u201d He made the lure from the pre-orbital glands of a dead buck, and sure enough Riggle\u2019s giant buck showed up on camera. Not only that, Riggle started getting other pictures of mature bucks he didn\u2019t know were there.The first picture of a buck at a licking branch treated with pre-orbital gland lure was the Forest County giant that gross scored 195″. (Jim Riggle photo)Riggle ended up killing the monster buck, truly a legendary whitetail from Forest County, Pennsylvania, in 2005. It gross scored 195″ non-typical in an area where the previous county record was a 160″ buck from back in the 1930s.As hunters learn about pre-orbital gland lure, exciting things are happening. In the years since Jim Riggle\u2019s first success with it, he has captured thousands of pictures of bucks working licking branches treated with Smokey\u2019s Pre-Orbital Gland Lure, the original that was the key to killing the legendary whitetail of Forest County. And hunters from many states are finding success with pre-orbital gland lure.