Lots of folks write about using mature buck staging area tactics, but what really is a mature buck staging area in the first place? A quick online search will reveal several standard opinions:
*A place to hunt
*A spot to plant a small harvest plot
*A location that can be planted and created
*Great habitat to harvest a mature buck in
Although I have experienced that each of those 4 typical opinions can be true some of the time, a good portion of the time they are not. First and foremost a mature buck staging area is this:
"The last form of highly secure cover that a mature buck exits before committing to travel to his evening food source."
A staging area can be considered the glue that holds the entire afternoon bedding area to evening food source movement, together. A place where does often bed due to the quality and security of the cover, and where bucks funnel to for a secret afternoon social experience.
*Make sure to check out my whitetail book series to help you find public or private land mature bucks this Fall, including "Whitetail Success By Design" and "Food Plot Success By Design"
In prohibition days, a mature buck staging area could be compared to "speak easy" happy hour locations where both men and women gravitated to with little chance of being discovered. Here are 6 ingredients that a mature buck staging area often has without becoming too unsecure and open to human pressure:
1. Secure connection/travel to both bedding cover in one direction, and a major evening destination in another direction.
2. Heavy security cover with plenty of woody growth for both rubs and scrapes.
3. High "stems per acre" count of grasses, briars, woody regeneration and shrubs.
4. Quality doe bedding opportunity, supported by the adjacent high quality evening food source.
5. Low-impact quality food source.
Although this is not necessary, a few acorns, apples or in some cases a very small and hidden food plot can help sweeten the plot. Keep in mind that there is no food source that can replace heavy security cover, stems per acre, secure connection or the conditions for adequate doe bedding opportunity. You can definitely have an outstanding staging area without food, but not the other way around. Most food plot installations in staging areas not only destroy the staging area, but actually become an extension of the evening destination food source, forcing deer to stage even deeper into the timber.
A mature buck staging area is allowed to repeat every day, typically all season long without any detectable amount of hunting pressure.
The best mature buck staging area tactics bear in mind that a staging area is one of the most sacred habitat features in the woods. Also, keep in mind; most parcels lack even just 1 quality staging area.
*What is the best way to hunt a staging area? There are two answeres: 1. Very lightly -or- 2. Not at all. To make sure that you are making the most out of this incredibly important habitat feature, make sure that you check out, "How To Hunt A Deer Staging Area".
Should your own mature buck staging area tactics ever include planting food or hanging a stand? Most often not, but if you can do so while still keeping the location as one of the most sacred spots in the woods for a reclusive old monarch; go for it! What I have found is that the more I leave a high quality staging area alone, the more opportunities that I capture to take advantage of a particular mature buck for the entire hunting season.
It's easy to practice a "one and done" sit for a mature buck in a staging area! The level of sign is so incredibly high, but most of the time hunters find themselves "done" because it's easy to spook the location out with just 1 intrusion, instead of one sit harvest. The best mature buck staging area tactic that you can practice is to allow a staging area to continue for the entire season, free from hunting pressure.
Are the staging areas in your hunting lands the last form of highly secure cover before mature bucks commit to travel to their evening food source? If not, you can experience huge mature buck harvest rewards by following the 6 ingredients for an effective staging area, listed above.