Reading animal sign can be a bit tricky. For example, how old is the track, rubbing or scat? It might not be possible to get an exact time when a sign was left, but you can get an idea if a sign is relatively new or many months old. Here are some tips to help you and a few details about members of the deer family.
Tracks: New tracks will have sharp edges; older tracks will have rounded edges and look larger from erosion. Look at tracks for dried water drops or dried water lines. If it has been months since the last rain, you know those tracks are old.
Scat: The way scat appears will vary with what the animal has eaten. Generally, herbivores (plant eaters) will have a looser scat when eating spring and summer plants that contain a lot of water. Think about a cow pie shape instead of a jellybean shape. Stabbing scat with a stick and breaking it open can help you determine if the scat is newer or older. Fresh scat will be darker in color. Dry, crumbly scat was most likely deposited months prior to your discovery.
Rubbings: Members of the deer family rub their antlers on trees to remove velvet from antlers and to mark an area with scent. Fresh rubbings will feel wet and have sap oozing from the rubbed area. Look below a rubbing for strips of removed bark. If the bark pieces are dry or faded in color, the rubbing is fairly old. The side of the tree the rubbing is on will tell you the direction the animal was traveling when it stopped to leave its mark.