Do you hunt staging areas?

By Grant Woods,

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Dr. Grant,

I was curious as to what your take on “Staging Areas” is? If you hunt them, what is your technique on finding them? How do you know if it is a for sure staging area? And, what would be the best way to set up on/in them?


Haden McGill


I do like hunting staging areas!  They are some of my favorite stand locations!!

I primarily hunt at my property located in the Ozark Mountains of southern Missouri.  The area is primarily timbered with few natural openings.  In this type of habitat deer, including mature bucks, seem to readily use small openings before larger food plots, etc.

I’ve created several staging areas by clearing brush and trees.  Some of these are simply nooks off larger food plots and some are 100 to 200 yards away from a primary feeding area. I often place Trophy Rock’s Four65 mineral in the staging area as well as maintain it in Eagle Seed’s Broadside blend.  I almost always create a mock scrape in staging area also!  This combination of mineral, forage that’s attractive during the hunting season, and a mock scrape has proven extremely effective at attracting mature bucks during daylight hours.

It’s very important find or create staging areas that allow hunters to approach them without alerting deer.  This means the approach, hunt, and exit needs to occur so that deer in the local bedding and feeding areas won’t be downwind of the stand/blind location.  This characteristic of staging areas is probably the most important determinant of its location!

Staging areas give hunters a big advantage that’s rarely discussed.  Because staging areas are usually between primary bedding and feeding areas, it means deer are traveling through them.  This means hunters can often approach staging areas before a morning hunt and/or leave them after an evening hunt without alerting deer.  This is in contrast to hunting both bedding and feeding areas where it’s often difficult to approach during the morning or leave after a hunt without alerting deer.  Therefore staging areas can often be hunted more frequently without “burning out” the stand.

I’ll be hunting staging areas this fall!  Whether you find a natural staging area or establish one I hope you have an opportunity to hunt these great habitat features also!