As hunters, we want to learn as much about our prey as we possible can. Naturally, but there are so many different things you hear and read. One author says do this and the other says to do that. How do you even make sense of it? This is my "No B.S." spin on rubs.
I'm not going to cover every tiny aspect of a rub, this post would be forever long. I will touch base on the most important factors. Personally, a rub is the best sign a buck could ever leave me. A rub is a HUGE piece of the puzzle. Scrapes are fine and dandy, I'll talk about those in another post, but rubs are the true blue deal when it comes to buck sign.
When you find a rub, don't just look at it and say, " Look a rub," and then keep going on your way. Stop and investigate the crime scene. Ah yes, the wise old tail that big bucks make big rubs and little bucks make little rubs. This is accurate, but only some of the time. I just watched a video of a little fork trashin' a huge rub. Most often this doesn't happen, but don't rule it out. If its a little bean pole rub, doesn't matter, it's a rub. Big boys make lots of little rubs. If you find more big rubs than little ones, you'd be safe to lean towards a deer with age, yes.
When you find a rub, most importantly, do what I call "Blood Trailin' Rubs." What I mean by this is look at the rub from the side of the tree showing the most damage. Center your body with it and look past the rub. This will give you a general direction of travel. So start walkin'! Ask yourself as you walk very slowly, "if I were a deer which way would I be going?" This time of year, more than not, I'd be willing to bet you find more. As you walk away from the rub look left to right for more. Usually within 60 yards or so to one side or the other you'll find another one. Once you do, just repeat what you've just done.
This rub will probably be in a different direction, with the most damage. Center yourself and start walking. Sometimes you have to leave your mental path to find the next, just don't forget where your path was. Boom. You find another, repeat. Boom. You find yet another. Now you have a fantastic piece of the puzzle. Now, mentally make a line from one rub to the other on all of them you've found. This is his rub line. This time of the year you can usually pull some kind of line off most rubs. Lots of people think if you see rubs close and grouped that it is a rub line. Not usually true. Rub clusters are a different puzzle piece assocaited with bedding and staging areas. Also important, but we've talkin' rub LINES.
The great thing about his rub line is that it tells you exactly where he's been traveling. Trees with rubs are like having camera's on all these trees! No matter how long or short these lines are, none the less, you've just pegged part of his travel route. HUNT IT!!! Set up a stand according to your prevailing wind and wait untill you get that wind, which should be most of the time.
To get even deeper into this thing, here's another little tid bit for you. Once you've found a rub line, start searching for another. First take one side of the existing line you have already found. Sometimes it's close and at times a little further away, but there is another to be found. Do the same steps on each side and usaully you can find another line, but the majority of the damage is on the oppisite side of the trees. When you can find this situation, jackpot baby. One line is his moring route and the other is his evening route. Again, HUNT IT!!!
Putting all the pieces together gets you closer to game and more blood on your tags. Pay close attention to ALL sign, after all it is just that, a sign. Treat everything you see as just a small piece of the whole picture in which you are trying to create. One rub is just a piece of his rub line, one rub line is just a piece of his movements, his movements are just a piece of you putting your tag on him! Everything counts, so keep an open mind. Now go find them RUBS! Good luck and don't forget, shoot straight!