Creating staging area habitat for the biggest bucks in the neighborhood is no easy task. In fact, very few landowners get to enjoy the privileges of owning a successful staging area, all season long. While creating a staging area isn't all about big bucks, you will find that you can't have one without the other.
Staging Area Habitat Basics
While most staging areas are an acre or smaller, staging areas come in all shapes, varieties and sizes. Staging areas don't come in a bag or in the back of a pick-up truck. Instead, staging area habitat is earned and if you don't have all of the pieces of the staging area puzzle working for you at one time, then no amount of money can be spent to purchase one. Great staging area habitat opportunity includes buck bedding cover that is typically 300-600 yards from an afternoon food source, secure travel, doe bedding, staging area and finally an unpressured afternoon food source.
Sacred Staging Area Opportunity
A staging area is one of the most sacred locations on your land and represents the last portion of the habitat where a big, mature whitetails feels safe before they step out of the security of cover and into an afternoon food source. A staging area should be within 50-100 yards of the afternoon food source and if it is, then you should experience consistent daylight feeding on that food source, all season long. Having a staging area or not, offers an often critical look into how your hunting efforts are doing. If any one of the habitat features of food, staging, doe bedding, secure travel or buck bedding is over-pressured by hunting, then you can expect not only your staging area to disappear, but the entire line of deer movement. When that happens, you can also expect the entire deer on your land to turn nocturnal.
*While huge rubs and an enormous amount of deer sign may fill a staging area, they can rarely be hunted without spooking a herd of does bedded nearby. Try to avoid the temptation, because whether you have an Easy Doe Herd to hunt or not, is one of the surest signs of a healthy hunting approach.
While many landowners and hunters recognize that bedding areas and the habitat between bedding areas is sacred, I have experienced that many do not place that same level of security into their food plots or staging areas. When it comes to creating a staging area, it's either all or nothing. It is always a great time to take a good hard look at if you truly have a staging area or not, because it could be one of the best indicators of if your hunting and habitat practices are as effective as they should be.