Author and Pro Greg Miller has written extensively about rubs and how he uses them. Yes while it is true that bucks can and will circle a tree, more often than not they are rubbing in the direction they are moving towards. As you mentioned the best indicators are rub lines, not only for direction but for habitat. Rubs (like scrapes) are signposts used to mark a bucks territory and provide obvious indicators to both other bucks and does of where it hangs its hat. They will most often create rub lines just outside or not far off from where they are bedding. And if you find a grouping of rubs fashioned in a circular to semi circular pattern, bingo...your just outside his bedding. Also, while it is not a hard and fast rule, generally speaking, the larger the rub, the larger the buck that made it. Miller goes on further to say wrist sized diameter trees or larger are generally made by mature bucks. But looking at not only the size, but the height of the rub as well as the condition of any other trees, saplings within close proximity can give you an indication of the spread on a buck as well. So how do you use this information? For starters depending on the size of the rub, you've been immediately alerted to the presence of a mature deer in the area. If the shavings are fresh on the ground you also know its been recent. If you have a rub line chances are your not far from his bedding area and the side that was rubbed is generally pointing towards the direction he came from...also useful in establishing whether this buck was coming from feeding or going to feeding...important in establishing if this is a morning route or evening route...mature bucks generally take different routes going to or coming back from feeding. So how do you hunt rubs? Don't hunt on top of them, but preferably within view of them and place your stand 15-20 yrds off the trail leading to them.
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