The key to hunting big bucks at any time of the season usually begins and ends with prudent scouting and meticulous notes. Want to kill the biggest buck of your life this fall? Take some time to analyze last year’s hunting logs or, at the minimum, try to pinpoint the travel routes bucks used most last autumn. The key to this "discovery phase" of your spring scouting often hinges on the location of rub lines.
As we have reported many times in Deer & Deer Hunting over the years, dominant bucks often establish rub lines that are worked for years. Some rub lines are more visible than others. A buck’s rub line indicates his pattern of movement throughout the fall. Trees along his line often bear scars from previous years. Rub lines lead from bedding areas to feeding areas and also to primary scrapes; however, well-established rub lines are not made overnight. Bucks make them over a period of time stretching through the rut and post-rut period. From this you see why it is vital to scout for good rub lines during the winter months. On the best rub lines, you will often find one large rub within easy eyesight of another, which makes the trail very easy to follow.
Rubs are sometimes more spread out, making it difficult to decide which direction or trail to follow. In this situation, try to think like a buck, keeping in mind that big bucks travel through areas that provide them with good cover. Another way to stay on a trail involves finding those species of trees preferred for rubbing. Many of these trees bear scars from previous seasons. In many cases the older the buck, the more distinct his rub line becomes over the years. Find these areas, and you fill find dynamite tree stand locations for future hunts.