How to Do a Deer Drive 2016-12-01

There are many tactics out there that are effective enough to kill a deer. Some are more reserved tactics. Others are more aggressive methods. Deer drives fall among the latter. And while this approach might not be for everyone, it is preferred by some. If you’re a part of that crowd, follow these steps if you’re planning to do a deer drive.

1. Safety First — Make a Plan

The most important thing with all deer drives is to put safety first. Don’t put people in danger. It’s probably best if drivers don’t carry firearms. But if they do, they should always be aware of their surroundings. Likewise, the shooter who is setting up for the shot should never shoot toward the drivers/pushers.

2. Map It Out

Before anyone heads afield, print out an aerial map and chart lines for each driver’s path. Don’t stray from the designated lines and stay just close enough that you can see each driver to the left and right. The shooter needs to know what each driver’s path will be. Give an approximate time to complete the drive so the shooter can expect their emergence.

3. Follow the Law

Always follow your state’s game laws. Some states have guidelines on what you can and can’t do when it comes to deer drives. Also keep communication devices in mind. Some states consider it unethical and unlawful to use communicative devices in the effort of taking game. Read the regs before going afield.

4. Put Someone in Charge

It’s best to have one of the drivers lead the charge. That way they can help direct everyone and help keep every individual safe. Don’t leave anything to chance.

5. Put Shooters in Their Places

Those standing behind the gun should get into position before the drive begins. They should stay away from the pockets of cover the drivers will be walking through. If there is more than one shooter, they should locate themselves in a manner that will not interfere with each other and in positions that leave them with safe backgrounds (with no people or objects in the distance) to shoot toward. Each individual shooter should be limited to a window of shot opportunity (much like when bird hunting) and should not shoot at deer outside of that window (for safety reasons and the sake of shooting a deer in another hunter’s “zone”).

6. Position the Drivers

Just as safety is important with the shooters, it’s also important with the drivers. Make sure each driver knows where everyone else is. That’s crucial.

Drivers should be spaced out just far enough that they aren’t pushing the same area, but close enough they can still see each other through the undergrowth. Position everyone too close and you’re covering the same area, but position too far away and you leave gaps for deer to slip through and go the opposite way. Also, it leaves room for safety issues to arise.

7. Designate a Spotter

Having someone watch from a high vantage point can be extremely beneficial. Sometimes, deer will react to the drive in a way where neither the drivers, nor the shooters, ever see them. Having a spotter watch to see where deer go (when possible) can be very helpful. If a deer slips by unnoticed, put a stalk on the deer or reorganize for a second drive.

8. Start the Drive

Once everyone is in place, begin the drive. Slowly walk (or stalk) through the cover. Everyone should agree on and keep the same pace as the crew members follows their routes. Don’t outpace anyone else in the line. You want everyone to finish the drive at the same time.

It’s best for everyone to move slowly. Walking too fast (or running) will blow deer out the opposite side. You don’t want that. Instead, move slowly, almost as if you’re stalking, and (if possible) allow the wind and your subtle sounds to push deer out. By doing this you give the shooter(s) a better chance of success because the deer won’t be as spooked or moving as fast.

9. Don’t Push Too Hard

If hunting small properties, keep in mind that the pressure your apply to a property will likely cause deer to spend more daylight hours in thick bedding cover, or they’ll move to a neighboring property entirely. Because of this, I only implement drives at the end of the season or when I'm hunting a given property for the last time of the season.

That said, by conducting “soft drives,” you can put less pressure on deer and hopefully keep them on your property for future deer hunts/drives. To do this, put barriers across escape trails that lead onto neighboring properties in advance of the push. Also, you can craft your drives in a manner that pushes deer from one block of timber on your property toward another patch of cover that is also on the land you’re hunting. This increases the likelihood that the deer will remain on that tract of land instead of running onto neighboring properties.

10. Wait for the Return

As I said, I feel it’s best that drivers don’t carry firearms. However, I know that some do and will continue to do so. For those hunters, if they push a deer out and the designated shooter(s) don’t get a shot at the deer, plop down and wait for that deer to come back. Oftentimes, spooked deer will run a short way before circling back around to re-enter the bedding area you just bumped them in. Why do they do it? Who knows. They just do. But being there when they come back is a good way to fill a tag. After all, I guess the drivers have earned the shot from all the walking if the deer happens to slip by the designated shooter(s), right?

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