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Ask The Biologist: How to Read Rub Marks

Back To "Ask The Biologist?"QUESTION: I would like to know how to read rub marks and tell how big the buck would be by the rub. — Jake R.

ANSWER: So would I, Jake. So would I. The easiest way is by placing a trail camera next to the rub, then waiting to see what comes by. Beyond that, it’s hard to tell much about size. Conventional wisdom says that only big bucks make big rubs, but any size buck can make a small one. There’s a certain amount of truth to that, but I wouldn’t bet my hunting season on it.

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What you can sometimes learn from rubs is direction of travel, and when the best time to hunt over them will be. Rubs are typically on one side of a tree — whichever direction the deer was approaching from. Now step back and take a broader look at the area, trying to determine what lies behind and in front of that rub. If the buck was traveling from bedding cover toward a feeding area, it’s more likely the tree was rubbed in the afternoon. If he was heading from feeding to bedding, it’s probably a morning trail. There’s still no guarantee he’ll come back by the same trail at the same time, but the odds are better.

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