Hunting Buck Rubs and Buck Rub Lines

buck rubs
Buck Size From Rub Size: What would you say about the buck that made this rub? It is rumored that only big bucks rub big trees. That depends on how you define big rubs. I've seen plenty of small bucks rubbing forearm-size trees. Biologists R. Larry Marchinton and Karl Miller, of the University of Georgia, studied rubs for several years with the conclusion that a rubbed tree must be at least six inches in diameter before you can assume, with reasonable confidence that a fully mature buck was the crafter. The rub in this photo definitely meets that criteria! Hunter shown wearing Mathews Lost Camo.

Though I don't think October is the best time for a trophy buck, it is a great month to shoot solid representative bucks and that's exactly what I set out to do a few years back while hunting in Illinois during the last week of the October.

Actually, I did miss a nice 3 1/2 year old 140-class eight-pointer on the third day of the whitetail hunt when my arrow went 8 inches low and glanced off his brisket. The buck was freshening a scrape just 15 yards away at the time. I hadn't shot the bow in several days and during the interim I must have bumped the rest.

After fixing the arrow rest, I went back to hunting fresh scrapes and rubs; I moved on to anther good-looking spot I had found while scouting. Early the first afternoon in the new stand, a decent buck followed the trail up the slope from below and proceeded to work two scrapes before coming within 20 yards of my tree stand. He was far from the biggest buck in the woods but he was a nice buck, typical of what you can expect when hunting fresh deer scrape and rub lines during October.

Hunting rub lines during the early deer hunting season, right up until the rut begins to kick, is an effective strategy. Generally, the most mature bucks in any herd are the first to rub, so the big rubs you find in September are the ones to hunt as soon as possible. Ideally, you would like to find rubs back in the cover where the odds are higher that a buck will come past during daylight hours.

Everything you need to set up in the right spot is there in front of you. You just look for deer scrapes. A tree stand located along a trail that ties together several fresh deer scrapes is a great place to shoot a buck at this time. Deer scrapes located back in the cover are a good choice morning and evening, while deer scrapes near field edges are better in the evenings. 

Rub Age and Rub Lines

buck rubs
To unravel the mysteries of buck movement and finally wrap your tag around a trophy, you have to learn how to properly scout a buck. Hunter shown wearing Mathews Lost Camo.

Rub lines will tell you more than individual rubs. They reveal a travel route rather than just a location where a buck stopped once. The rubs shown in this photo (which was taken in early November) are dried out and brown: signs that they are old and were probably made at least a month earlier. Old sign reveals little about current buck travel patterns. Look for fresh rubs, and focus on rub lines.

Some rubs also give clues about the buck that made them. I hunted a buck several years ago that had a big hook near one antler base. He had very distinctive rubs with huge gouge marks. I found them littered all over the place near the area where I finally arrowed the buck. If you find odd similarities between several rubs more than likely they were all made by the same buck, and chances are good he has at least one non-typical point.



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