In Mapping Whitetails #04 we will be covering the best spots to find rubs, what they mean, and how they should be hunted.\u00a0 First off, like any Mapping Whitetails tip, this is not your standard repeated jargon about white-tailed deer rubs.\u00a0 We make it our primary focus to illustrate what keys to look for on actual maps.\u00a0 It\u2019s our goal to provide you with a sense of hands on whitetail knowledge\u00a0that\u2019s truly applicable to all hunters.\u00a0 With that said, let\u2019s dive into the subject at hand \u2013 buck rubs.In an article put forth by QDMA, author Bryan Kinkel explained the results of his study in determining the correlation of rubs in relation to the distance from edge habitat.\u00a0 If you are an experienced hunter it may come to no surprise that there was a much greater density of rubs found near an \u201cedge\u201d compared to away from an \u201cedge\u201d.\u00a0 Also, the density of rubs was greater along old logging trails.\u00a0 Having hunted many years in big timber country of northern Wisconsin, these have always been features to hone in on during scouting missions and hunts.\u00a0The above graph illustrates the occurrence of rubs in proximity to edge habitat. \u00a0Rub lines = Travel corridors, which equal great hunting locations. (Image Courtesy of QDMA)Before we dive into how you can find these features on an aerial or topo map, let\u2019s define just what an \u201cedge\u201d is in the deer world.\u00a0 There are two main types of edges – an internal (soft) habitat edge and an external (hard) habitat edge.\u00a0 An internal edge is referring to a change in the forest composition.\u00a0 For example, a hardwood stand butting up to a conifer stand or an alder swamp transitioning into a mixed hardwoods stand. Next, there are hard edges which can be a crop field butting up to a timber stand or timber butting up to a food plot, some type of edge where there is a drastic change in habitat composition and height. Big timber stands are often lacking in the hard edge category, which is why it is so important to be able to locate and distinguish a soft edge when you see one. As Bryan\u2019s article points out, bucks prefer to travel along these soft edges over walking through an open hardwood stand. The reason is because edges typically offer more cover.Mapping TipWhen it comes to finding these edges on a map, an aerial image will be much more effective than any other type of map.\u00a0 From a topo map you can typically identify some trails and whether an area is forest land, open land, or swamp land (hard edges), but you can\u2019t tell where there are transition lines within forested habitat.\u00a0 Thus, you\u2019re going to want to use an aerial photo from Google Earth or Bing Maps.The above two images are maps of the same area. \u00a0Which one is easier to decipher edges on? \u00a0Notice how the\u00a0interior edges within the forest are not visible on the topo map.\u00a0Advantage Google EarthI prefer Google Earth because you can alter between historical photos with a click of a button.\u00a0 How does this help you as a hunter?\u00a0 Let me show you.SummerEarly SpringSee the difference?\u00a0 By switching the historical photo date you can hopefully bounce between the seasons in which the photo was taken.\u00a0 I prefer early spring or late fall photos where the leaves are off of the deciduous trees.\u00a0 The above photos should make the reasons fairly obvious. \u00a0For one, you can clearly see the edges of deciduous and coniferous stands.\u00a0 Secondly, trails are much easier to see through the tree tops without leaves.\u00a0 And thirdly, you can decipher potential logging activities that have recently took place.Once you develop a good eye for aerial imagery, you’ll be able to see the faint lines of a logging operation like this one. \u00a0The hardwoods on the left with squiggly looking tracks\/trails was recently selectively cut and thinned. \u00a0The one on the right in which you see somewhat curvy parallel striations is a result of a clear-cut. \u00a0Another added bonus of Google Earth\u2019s historical imagery function is that you can toggle through the years to get a pretty good estimate as to when logging or clearings happened.Identifying the Best EdgesNot all edges were created equal.\u00a0 It may take some time and practice to learn which edge is preferred over another, but here\u2019s a couple of pointers to keep in mind when determining which edge to scout or hunt.Look where they are in terms of food and cover. If it\u2019s a linear line between the two, chances are this is the main travel route for the deer.Here’s an example of an edge created by a\u00a0power line\u00a0clearing. \u00a0Located between bedding and food, this is a great edge to hunt.Food and bedding areas are much harder to determine in big timber country, but here’s an example of an edge we found and ended up killing a mature buck out of.Some edges double as a funnels. Funnels can be effective hunting locations throughout the fall, but they turn to gold during the pre-rut and rut phases of whitetail.Cha-Ching! Here’s two funnels us whitetail hunters dream of come November. \u00a0Funnels and pinch points are often the result of a band of cover being shrunk down due to two imposing hard edges.Now that you know where and how to find the best high-traffic deer edges, it\u2019s time to hit the ground to verify your computer scouting efforts.\u00a0 Remember, edge habitat is strongly correlated with buck rub density.\u00a0 Thus, if you don\u2019t find any rubs, it\u2019s in your best interest to scout a different edge.WHEN YOU FIND A RUBOnce you find a rub near edge cover, chances are you\u2019ll find several of them as you progress down the edge.\u00a0 If you do, you\u2019ve just located a rub line.\u00a0 Now it\u2019s time to understand what this rub line is telling you.Is it a mature buck or a scrappy buck? There will likely be a mix of the size of trees that are rubbed, but matures bucks will generally rub on trees that are greater than 4 inches in diameter.\u00a0 However, some wooded areas just don\u2019t have many of those mid-sized trees in which case, a small sapling could mean a big buck.\u00a0 Get your trail cam out there and figure out what\u2019s cruising the edge.What side of the tree is the rub on? Depending on the side of the tree, you can determine if the buck is likely to be using it during the morning or evening.\u00a0 How you ask?\u00a0 To understand this, you must first know where the likely bedding and feeding areas are.\u00a0 If the tree is rubbed in such that the deer would be facing the feeding area when he makes the rubs, then it\u2019s likely his afternoon travel route to the food.\u00a0 An evening sit would be your best chance to tag this buck.\u00a0 If the rub is made as if the buck would be facing the bedding area, then a morning sit would be the best time to get a crack at the buck before he goes to bed.With many bucks recently casting their velvet, trees are shaking across the whitetail woods.\u00a0 Take some time this fall to identify these hot travel zones for big bucks and you won\u2019t be disappointed!