When and where do rubs occur? Rubs will start showing up as early as mid-september in Maryland. They are often found in fringe areas where small saplings are abundant and in concentration. These early rubs are usually less intense and are more for loosening and removing velvet. As bachelor groups of bucks are still running together, many rubs may appear in small areas. These areas are sometimes just inside of a bedding area or treeline along an agricultural field. These areas are referred to as “staging areas” where bucks are hanging out under cover until just before dark to enter a field to feed.By October, rub production tends to diminish as buck activity slows. This time is known as the “october lull” and can be a difficult time to hunt big bucks.
Usually by Halloween though, the temperature dips a little lower, daylight is shortening, and the bucks get back on their feet. The rut is beginning and the month of november becomes that special time to be in a treestand. Rubs found at this time and in the week or so leading up to the rut become more intense and territorial. They are found along travel routes, and just about anywhere a buck feels he needs to declare his dominance. I have seen rubs on saplings growing out from under sheds or along the edges of parking lots. The purpose of these rubs are the visual and scent markers left by a buck attempting to establish his territory. Once the rut is in full swing, the bucks turn their attention to finding and securing hot does. Rubs may continue to show up but with fewer frequency.
Should you hunt over a rub?
I personally do not seek out rubs with the purpose of hanging a stand over them. A rub is not a garuntee that a buck will be there, only that a buck has been there. For this reason, I try to look at the bigger picture and the other variables that factor into treestand placement, such as travel routes to food sources and bedding areas, natural funnels, etc. Don’t get me wrong, seeing big buck sign in the form of rubs gets my imagination going and helps boost my confidense in an area. This is where trail cameras are a huge asset. With a camera, you can have a chance to see if the rub was made by a buck who frequents the area or was just passing through. So, a rub confirms that bucks are in the area, now remember your other skills and find the best location to hang a stand and put one down.