Hunting the Rubs

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Should I hunt all those rubs. Many hunters if asked have different opinions on this subject. I have set up and hunted many rub lines in the past and have had no luck to great luck. I’ve seen hunters set up on rubs and all they ever saw was a bunch of little basket bucks all year. So what does the rub even tell you about the deer. There are lots of things the rub can tell you about the deer that could help you get the big buck you are looking for.

1. How old is he.

2. How wide is he.

3. How long are his tines.

4. How Mature is he.

As I answer some of the questions above remember that these are studies that I have used in my area and they have worked for me.

1. How old is he. We have found that the older bucks will generally hit the bigger trees. We don’t set up on a bunch of little sapling that has been hit cause lots of times the saplings are used to take off the velvet. So if we see trees that are 6-8 inches around we know that he is an older buck.

3. How long are his tines. When we look at rubs we always see if there is a tree behind the tree being rubbed. Once we found a rub and the tree 14 inches behind it had marks on it. This let us know that while the buck was rubbing his tines were hitting the other tree so we new he was at least 14 inches tall.

2. How wide is he. Well lots of times a buck that is 16 inches wide can rub up trees that are only 6 inches around. So we look for those trees that are 10 inches around and that lets us know that the opening of his main beams is at least 10 inches so he should be pretty wide.

4. How Mature is he. The best way we have found out how mature a buck is, is by looking for old rubs by his new ones. Lots of times we get excited about seeing a rub and we need to slow down and take a better look. If you see a rub look around and see if other trees real close has been rubbed in the past. In my area it takes a two year old buck to rub trees four to five inches around. So if we find a tree that is ten inches around and notice four inch trees and six inch trees rubbed in the past we know we are dealing with an older Mature buck.

I hope this helps you to decide if the rub you see is worth your time hunting. As you can see this has helped us set up on some nice bucks. 


Sure this really helps

Sure this really helps us decide if the rub you see is worth your time hunting. Many hunters got confused at this point and feel difficulties in deciding one. Thanks to you for sharing your experience and some tricks to decide the best one to hunt. I enjoyed reading. 

optimum internet

Sure this really helps

Sure this really helps us decide if the rub you see is worth your time hunting. Many hunters got confused at this point and feel difficulties in deciding one. Thanks to you for sharing your experience and some tricks to decide the best one to hunt. I enjoyed reading. 

optimum internet

groovy mike's picture

great tips


These are great tips!  What is usually lacking in any article with hunting tips are the specifics of what those deer signs mean.  This article includes those specifics and it has taught me a few things and reaffirmed things that I intuitively knew or thought I knew about buck rubs.  Just looking ta those antlers in the photographs is an inspiration too!  Those a re great bucks and some very fine examples of taxidermy too.

Thanks for the great article and the inspiration!


steven_seamann's picture

Those all are very nice deer,

Those all are very nice deer, i have had times that i have hunted rubs but i first look to see if its an active rub and i lay down some scents near by and come back the next morning to find the buck going crazy, i have had real good luck hunting mock scrapes if you really put time into a mock scrape you will never have a problem with taking a monster buck.

jim boyd's picture


Whoa - what great bucks and very well done mounts.

Those are some stunning whitetails, no doubt.

Also a rub that size would get any hunter's motor going... that is a sure thing!

Your points about asssessing the buck that made the rub sound great and are not something I had considered in the past.

We just associated rub / deer size by the size of the tree that was rubbed... if we found big rubs we had a good idea there was a good, mature buck using the area.

My buddy Larry took a great buck a few years back hunting a line of rubs on cedar trees... we called him the Cedar Buck... once he was taken, that rub line immediately went dead and was not used in following years.

Great tip, CritterDone... now... where do we find rubs like the one in that picture??????

Better yet, where do we find bucks like the ones in the pictures???


ecoroamers's picture

Hunting the Rubs

One of the largest deer I have ever taken, (12 point white tail) came from setting up in a groung blind just about 40 yards from a rub trail pattern i dicovered by accident.  There were older rubs, like you stated on smaller trees in the vicinity, but the main new rubs were on about 8" diamter trees and had good 6" rub markings.  I did hang estris about 5 yards away and low, about 2' off of the ground.  The buck only seemed to be interested in the tree he had marked, but it made for a perfect shot.

CVC's picture

How long before the hunt did

How long before the hunt did you set up your blind or did you set it up that day?  If so, did you brush it in?  I will be using a blind next week and cannot set it up in advance so I wonder about brushing it in.  My plan is to brush it in, but I am  hoping setting it off the trail and with the bucks having other things on their mind it won't matter if it has not been there before.

Any tips?

ecoroamers's picture

I used a camo opentop style

I used a camo opentop style blind, set up at 3:00am the morning of the hunt, and yes I brushed it in.  I did have the opportunity to go out the day before and move the brush into a semi-circular array so that all I had to do was set up the blind inside of the semi-circle then pull the brush only a couple of feet, if that, to help me keep the noise down.  It doesn't take a lot of brush, just enough to break up any silohetted or solid areas.  I have always told my boys like my dad told me, if I can see me, or smell me, then they can see me or smell me.  You can be standing out there in a bright orange jumpsuit, but one stategically placed bush and you will disapear.  Good Luck.

CVC's picture

Rubs are a good indication of

Rubs are a good indication of the buck's prescence and size, but I don't hunt rubs.  I set up in an area that has rubs which means that bucks are around, but I still try to figure out the best place to intercept them, like connecting trails or funnels. 

outdoorsman121's picture

Great tip

Great tip. I also use these strategies to determine a bucks age, or how wide antlers may be, and how tall the antlers may be. This is a great way to hunt whitetail deer! I have hunters rub lines before and have killed bucks walking along them. This year i killed the second buck of my season with a bow over a scrape line. It wasn’t the biggest buck, but it just comes to show that if you as a hunter finds rubs and uses them to his or her benefit it can help you be a successful hunter!

ManOfTheFall's picture

Sounds pretty good to me. I

Sounds pretty good to me. I would have to agree with everything you said in the tip.

gatorfan's picture

Thanks Scott!

I would agree with most of what you say.  The only reason I say most is because I haven't really had that much experience with deer rubbing on trees as big as the one in your last picture.  I would have guessed a bear did that! lol

I have, on the other hand, been pretty successful at identifying fresh rubs and have at least been able to se some of the deer that have made them.  As a matter of fact, I killed my first bow-buck because my buddy and I sat by a fresh rub. 

Thanks for the added information.  I'll have to try to verify if it comes into play in my hunting spots!


jaybe's picture

Great Tip

Scott -

 Those are great points to consider when looking at rubs.

And those are great mounts as well!

Several years ago I was scouting an area to bowhunt when I encounterd a cedar tree that was almost 10" in diameter,

This tree was torn to shreds from a foot off the ground to almost four feet off the ground!

I had never seen the likes of it in 30 years of hunting.

I set up my tree stand about 50 yards away on an edge that I thought the buck might travel to and from this awesome rub.

Unfortunately, my dad had to have heart surgery in Florida and I missed the best part of the season, so I only sat in that stand once.

Thanks for the tip and great photos.