Find staging areas outside of fields

staging areas
While does and smaller bucks may enter a field well before dark, it’s often better to find areas where deer stage back in the woods if you’re after a big buck.

Matt Willis said successfully hunting agricultural crops depends on knowing routes deer take from habitat beyond the borders to the edges of the field.

“For afternoon hunting, the deer typically approach well before dark, often staging in protected areas in the proximity of the field,” he said. “Staging areas offer hunters an opportunity to hunt deer attracted by the crops but not coming out early. A doe or small buck may enter the field before dark, but typically, big bucks wait until late, sometimes too late to shoot.

“The staging area is a safety refuge for deer and cover is usually thick and can be ideal for bowhunting,” he said. “With ample cover, you can use a climbing stand for a rifle or bow shot, or a ground blind for use when the wind is right. Hunting staging areas near the field, but where the deer feel safe, is a good way to get a bead on a big buck that lingers until too late to shoot in the field.”

Robert Johnson said staging areas are not always immediately adjacent to fields; sometimes they are a distance away but can still be exploited for bucks.

“I’ll follow trails well back into the woods and locate places where other trails intersect the main trail,” he said “I look for secondary food sources, because deer often move down a main trail and stop to nibble on acorns or shrubs before entering the fields. If you hunt in the woods near the field, then when you see a buck, you’ll probably have enough light to take the shot. But if you hunt on the edge, the buck may come into the field until after dark.

About Terry Madewell 812 Articles
Award-winning writer and photographer Terry Madewell of Ridgeway, S.C., has been an outdoors writer for more than 30 years. He has a degree in wildlife and fisheries management and has a long career as a professional wildlife biologist/natural resources manager.

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