What Does a Buck Rub Line Mean?

If you walk during the autumn, you may notice some trees having ripped and peeled away sections on their bark. These scars (buck rubs) are caused by bucks when they rub their antlers on the tree’s trunk. Now, although this buck rubbing behavior is a bit odd, there’s an explanation behind it.

Science explains that the rubbing is a way of bucks removing their velvet, which starts to dry and shed once the antlers are fully developed. Buck rubbing is also a communication symbol that notifies deer that the buck is present and possibly wants to breed.

If you hunt for bucks, then rub line hunting could be your best bet. This way, you can easily follow the pattern and path created by these animals to figure out where they are. Read on to learn more about this hunting method and buck rubs.

What Does a Buck Rub Line Mean?

A buck rub line is a pattern made by buck on trees and posts to indicate his direction. Hunters can use this line to determine the where that their target buck likes to travel to. If you read this line correctly, you can figure out where the buck travels in the morning and evening, depending on its food source.

Note that when hunting whitetail, it can be a bit challenging to target a mature buck. However, if you can discover a buck rub line, it can be easy to tell where the buck moves.

Mature bucks often move along the same routes as long as they are comfortable using them. And, they create a line of rubs on posts and trees when moving. Therefore, a buck rub line is simply a technique bucks use to establish their presence within a certain area.

How do you find these lines?

Well, they have a pattern that’s usually from point A (the buck’s food source) to point B (their bedding places). When scouting, try to follow frequent paths that bucks use. This will help you find a rub line quickly.

The mature bucks usually follow other deer to determine their smell. Once they figure out that smell, they use it to determine who to breed with during the rut.

Now, because deer movement usually occurs in these paths that are frequently used by mature bucks, following them will lead you to the bucks. Check out to see whether you can notice continuous large rubs following each other. That should be the rub line.

Once you located a rub line, you should then set it with blinds or trees. We recommend putting these between the source of food and bedding areas. This way, you’ll have increased chances of a shot when bucks are moving between these locations.

Rub lines differ in length. A line can be two miles or even more, depending on how far the food and/or does is. There isn’t a standard time that’s recommended to hunt along active buck rub lines. However, we recommend analyzing different rattling/grunting in your pre-rut rub line hunts both in the morning and evening.

Do Bucks Revisit Rubs?

Unfortunately, many rubs don’t get revisited by other deer or bucks that made them. However, some special rubs might be visited by several bucks. When this happens, the rubs are referred to as “traditional rubs” since the deer made a habit of visiting them again and again. You can spot traditional rubs throughout the whitetail range.

Research says that traditional rubs are influenced by the buck’s age structures and population density. Usually, if young bucks are the majority in a herd, the total rubs and traditional rubs are fewer compared to herds with older bucks with natural age structures.

It’s not clear what makes bucks revisit a rub. But experts think that it depends on its size, buck species, and tree’s location.

Also, note that these traditional rubs are often on trees with a large diameter. However, this is not always the case since the size of a tree doesn’t really mean that it’s only used by big bucks. Young bucks can also rub and mark large trees with their scent.

A revisited rub usually serves a communication purpose, just like all rubs. When bucks rub their forehead on these trees, they want to inform other bucks and does about their presence. Note that you can still find non-traditional rubs (that which isn’t revisited) where the traditional rubs are. Research, in fact, says that they will be the majority.

Most people place their trail camera near a large rub hoping that the bucks might revisit. However, the success rate of this hunting type is a bit low, even with the traditional rubs.

Do Bucks Bed Near Rubs?

Buck rubs often represent their primary home range. When bucks make clusters or lines of these rubs, it shows that they created it as they were traveling from their source of food to their thick bedding at dawn or as they went to feed in the afternoon.

So, yes, bucks bed near the rubs they make. Such rubs are known as trail rubs. They’re great spots during the pre-rut period.

But, note that bucks usually rub in between where they are and where they go. And most rubs are made in the dark when they want to sleep. Therefore, when scouting, you should look for a bed with rubs as it is more valuable than that which doesn’t have.

Most hunters try to find old rubs with recent activity. That means, that the rub has been used for many years and it is still active. Thus, it could indicate that the same buck has been using rub for a long time as his bed. However, bear in mind that not all old rubs mean that the buck is present. Sometimes it could be that the buck matured and moved somewhere else. We advise looking for some recent activity.

Final Thoughts

Well, rub lines will definitely simplify things for you when you are scouting. So make sure that you try spotting them throughout that area. If you can spot and follow these rub lines, you can quickly figure out the travel patterns used by the bucks to bed and feed. And this will help you hunt successfully.

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