Personally, I prefer hunting over rub lines as opposed to scrape lines. First off, bucks make rubs, does don’t. Secondly, bucks rub trees for three months each fall, while ground scrapes are limited to a few of weeks during the rut. Thirdly, scrape lines almost always follow rub lines. You can take it to the bank. Most important, it is far easier to tell the potential size of a buck from a rub than from a scrape.
Hunting rubs is more effective earlier in the fall before the urgency of the rut sets in.
Rubs come in four varieties:
Sign Post Rubs
Random rubs are just that, random. At best they tell us that a buck was here and we need to search harder for more meaningful signs as to where he was headed.
Rub lines are commonly found between feeding and bedding areas. I consider it a rub line when there at least a half a dozen rubs over fifty yards of trail. This tells me the buck is regularly using this trail. Pay particular attention to which side of the tree the rub is on. This will tell you what direction the buck is traveling. Is he using the trail in the morning to return to his bedding area or is he using the trail in the evening to go to feed? These are the little things that tell you which side of the trail to put the stand on and how best to approach the stand to avoid detection.
Cluster rubs are my favorite to hunt. They are multiple rubs close together, often in the same cluster of brush or saplings. A buck will often make a flurry of rubs when he first gets out of his bed and is headed to the feeding area. It will be obvious that the buck is using this area a lot. However, you need to be extra careful because you are already too close to his main bedding area. You might want to come back late in the evening, when he is already out feeding to place your stand. Regardless of whether you hunt rub lines or cluster rubs, it is important to place your stand as close as possible to—but never within—the bedding area.
Sign post rubs really get your attention and make your heart skip a beat or two. They are huge and high. The tree will be between three and six inches in diameter. Not only will there be shredded bark on the forest floor, but slivers of wood as well. These rubs tell other bucks just who the boss is in these here parts, and they are often used year after year. The biggest problem in hunting signpost rubs is that the buck will usually visit the rub after dark. The biggest bucks are usually the most strongly nocturnal. For that reason it is always best to hunt signpost rubs before the velvet comes off.