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Deer Hunting Tip: Let Your Pre-Rut Target Buck Take the Stage

When the whitetail autumn is stuck somewhere between the lazy days of early season and the frenzied peak of the rut, look for mature bucks to occupy prime staging areas on most evenings

Deer Hunting Tip: Let Your Pre-Rut Target Buck Take the Stage
Want to kill a buck between the early season and the crazy rut? Hang a treestand in prime staging area that sits off of a busy feeding spot. Wise guy bucks will often hang out in there until the cover of darkness. (Photo courtesy of Bill Winke)

As the early fall deer hunting season matures and heads towards the full-blown breeding madness of the peak rut, many deer hunters will eventually start to turn their attention towards the nearest concentration of frisky does.

After all, from the final days of October into November, many parts of the nation’s deer country will attract does, meaning there are bound to be bucks.

Keep in mind, however, that many of the very best mature bucks that hunters seek each season will still avoid such whitetail gatherings during daylight hours until the time is nearly right.

Why? Because a bona fide mega buck that is 4 1/2, 5 1/2 or even 6 1/2 years of age has gotten that way by developing a serious aversion to hot lead pouring from a rifle or muzzleloader barrel, along with the biting sting of cold hard steel being dispensed by way of a broadhead.

Remember, most of us are hunting the sage old bucks of our local woods, those monarchs with plenty of gray matter between the ears and oftentimes, plenty of calcium on top of the noggin.

That’s just the kind of loner alpha buck that Outdoor Channel and Sportsman Channel deer hunting expert Tom Miranda likes to hunt too, even when that buck isn't quite ready to take a final curtain call just yet.

So where is such a big buck likely to be found during the waning days of the pre-rut phase? Probably waiting in the wings each evening, sitting tight in a preferred staging area until darkness falls on a feeding spot.

What is a staging area you ask? Let me allow Miranda to explain.

"To me, a staging area is a comfortable place in the woods where a deer can be comfortable waiting around for darkness to fall,” said Miranda, a multi-show television host and Mathews pro who chases big whitetails all over the country each year.

“The does will hit the (feeding) fields earlier in the evening, but the (mature) bucks will often stay back off (of) the fields 25 yards or so and eat more woodsy browse.”

Such a safe haven between a buck’s bedding area and a nearby whitetail chow hall allows him to hang out and scent-check inbound trails for the presence of a hot doe, all in relative obscurity and safety until darkness falls.

While some hunters are tempted to get up close and personal to an evening feeding spot, Miranda often employs the opposite approach.


"Typically, I'm rarely hunting the edge of a (feeding) field," said the host of such shows as Territories Wild, Adventure Bowhunter, Dominant Bucks and Whitetail Slam on the two Outdoor Sportsman Group networks. "(Instead) I'm looking for a staging area back in the woods."

Find such a “behind the main curtain” spot where you are chasing whitetails and then hunt it carefully over the next several weeks and who knows what might happen?

You just might be like Miranda often is, and that's taking hunting center stage with yet another big buck kind of bow.

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