Follow the Rub Line

Follow the Rub Line to You Next Trophy


Legend says that pirates marked their treasures with an “X” and if you are hunting gold coins or jewels that might be what you should look for. But if you are hunting whitetail deer you want to look for another marker – the rub line.

Rub lines are proven indicators of where to find bucks and can also tell you the buck’s direction of travel, approximant size and when to expect him to pass through the area again. Of course you need to learn to read the rub line and then you need to know how to use that information properly. But if you do both of these you can follow that rub line to you next trophy – all you have to do is make the shot count!

Bucks rub trees for several reasons: marking territory to warn other bucks they are entering his domain, leave scent for soon to be hot does, release tension as breeding season approaches and even to give his neck muscles a work out. Each type of rub sends a different message to the hunter and should be viewed in a different light depending on whether it is early, rut or late season.

Reading rubs

Depending on where you hunt buck rubs should start showing up in September and early October as bucks attempt to establish home territories prior to the pre-rut activities. Bachelor groups are starting to break up and individual bucks are starting to stake out a home zone. It should come as no surprise that the dominate bucks will often be the first to establish a territory so the first rubs often indicate a larger buck is nearby. Unfortunately these territorial markings are not going to pinpoint a buck’s travel routes, just that they are in the area.
What you do want to look for is additional rubs near potential food sources, once you find these rubs track backwards away from the food plot and determine if the rubs form a trail. These are the rubs indicating the buck’s travel route between bedding and eating sites. These are also the one most likely to allow a successful ambush as they are the ones a buck is most likely to visit on a regular basis.

Selecting a Stand Site

Many hunters will hang a stand directly on the rub line, figuring the best chance of intercepting a buck is to have it walk right under your own location. But, unless you are successful on the first or second hunt this method has a possibility of backfiring and actually warning bucks of your presence. Instead try setting up off the rub line in a location which allows you to see the most likely trail and offers shots within your range but far enough away to lessen the possibility of spooking unseen bucks or even smaller one you choose to forego.

It goes without saying that although these early season rubs offer one of the most likely opportunities for tagging out early, they also offer the buck the first opportunity to become educated. Only hunt these sites when the wind is optimal, minimize your own scent and make any shot you do take count.

Good luck, good hunting!