Deer Drive Tactics for Hunting Trophy Whitetail

deer drive
It is extremely important that everyone who is driving deer wears plenty of Hunter Orange. The shooter needs to know which direction he can shoot and be a good shot.

There are a variety of different tactics to hunting trophy whitetails. Some deer hunters call them in, some hunt over deer scrapes, and others use deer decoys. One of the oldest and most productive ways to tag a trophy whitetail is to conduct a deer drive. Trophy whitetails can be elusive critters, especially large bucks. When deer hunters have tried every hunting tactic they know and still come up empty-handed, many deer hunters choose a deer drive with a handful of hunters.

A deer drive is like hunting pheasants with a group of hunters; the difference is they are hunting deer, not pheasants. A deer drive is usually made up of five to ten hunters. Most of the deer hunters make a long line in the woods and slowly walk through the woods, driving deer towards one or two hunters who are in position at the other end of the woods. When a buck goes walking or running by, the hunter shoots the deer. In some cases, shooters are placed on the sides and in front.

deer hunting
Deer drives are most popular among firearms hunters as they are a very effective method for harvesting elusive whitetail bucks.

Most deer hunters who enjoy driving deer typically do it in a familiar section of woods. They usually know where deer bedding areas are located. In most cases, deer hunters form a line and quietly push through a section of woods. Hunters who regularly deer drive the same section of woods know the area well enough to block potential escape routes. The goal is to make sure the buck goes in the direction the hunters intend it to. If the deer knows about a way to get around the drivers, they might escape without being seen by the shooter or the drivers. Making sure the group of hunters block off the entire section of woods they are hunting in is important.

Many deer drives fail because the group of hunters makes too much noise as they work their way through the woods. The goal should be to work slowly and make as little noise as possible. If a buck jumps from his bed scared out of his mind, he will likely bolt through the woods so quickly that the drivers and the deer hunter at the end of the drive won´t get a shot at him. By moving slowly and quietly, eventually the buck will know the drivers are in the woods, get up from his bed and wander off, hopefully walking by the hunter. It can be difficult for many hunters to remain quiet in the woods so here are a few things hunters can do to ensure they quietly nudge a buck from his bedding area and not push him out of the country.

Don´t scream back and forth from one end of the line to the other. In a day and age when technology is everywhere, deer hunters can communicate with each other via cell phones or two way radios. Making sure the deer hunters on both ends of the deer drive have two way radios is a good idea so they can keep the group together and ensure that nobody is getting ahead or falling behind the rest of the group. It is also nice for the hunter at the end of the deer drive to have a 2-way radio so the drivers can keep him informed of what is going on and if they have spotted or pushed any bucks.

When driving deer, someone should be in charge of the deer drive. In most cases, it is the person who has the most experience deer hunting the land where the drive is taking place. That person will know what area to drive and where to place the deer hunter. They will likely know where deer in the area bed, where they eat and where they travel between the two. They will also be the person that sets the pace that everyone walks. 

deer drive
Most hunters think of a deer drive as a gun hunting affair. Many bowhunters also participate in deer drives. Hunter shown wearing Mathews Lost Camo.

Like with any style of deer hunting, some areas are better than others. Many deer hunters who regularly drive deer hunt fairly thick brush and timber where they know deer regularly bed. Obviously, the smaller the piece of property is the easier it will be to drive with a small number of deer hunters. Large sections of property can be hard to drive because there is some property to cover. Most hunters who drive deer have good bedding areas, funnels and feeding areas close by. Putting on a deer drive through a natural funnel or bottleneck that is thick and near a major food source is preferred by many hunters. 

Deer drives often occur during mid-morning or early afternoon when deer are most likely bedded down for an extended period of time. Many deer hunters hunt during the morning from a treestand and do a deer drive in the afternoon.

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One of the biggest concerns with deer drives is safety. When there are several deer hunters wandering through the woods towards another deer hunter, bad things can happen. To reduce chances of a hunting accident, there are a few things that all deer drivers should do. A large amount of orange should be worn by everyone on the hunting team so everyone is visible. In most cases, wearing an orange coat and hat will make hunters stand out in the woods. I have seen some hunters wear orange upland hunting pants as well. Hunters can never wear enough orange when participating in a deer drive.

The deer hunter who plans to pull the trigger if a deer walks by needs to be very careful if he takes a shot. One way to decrease the chance of an accident is to have the deer hunter in a treestand, not on the ground. This allows him to see a long distance in several directions. He will be able to see approaching hunters. The hunter should never shoot in the direction of the people doing the driving. It is best to wait until the deer is in an area the hunter knows is safe to shoot before taking a shot. By communicating via 2-way radios throughout the afternoon, everyone will be aware of where the other people are located.

When executed properly, a deer drive can be one of the best methods of harvesting multiple deer in a single day. If a group of deer hunters is driving an area they know holds lots of deer and there are several hunters with guns, it is not uncommon for many hunters to get a shot at a deer. Keep in mind that just because deer hunters are pushing deer doesn´t mean they´ll have to take a running shot. Deer will often run a little and look back or walk away from the hunters. Deer are used to seeing people and don´t always bolt unless they are pushed hard. The best way to ensure the deer hunt is successful is to wait for a clean shot when the deer is moving slowly or standing still. Grunting or making noise just before taking a shot is one way to get a deer to stop and take a look around.

 

 Many hardcore deer hunters participate in deer drives towards the end of the deer season after they have hunted the area from the ground or from treestands without success. When the end of the season is drawing near and tags are still unfilled, many deer hunters go to those areas that they have left alone all season and put on a deer drive. Doing a drive early in the season and pushing deer out of an area will ruin the area for the rest of the year which is why most hunters pay close attention to where deer are bedding and traveling. When the fat lady is warming up and the iron curtain is about to fall on the season, they do a deer drive where they know the deer live.

There aren´t any absolutes in hunting but if you know where deer call home and you get a few friends together who can push through a section of woods without allowing an escape, a deer drive can offer a high probability of succes.

Big bucks are elusive and are often only spotted on trail cameras. If you repeatedly get pictures of a big buck on camera but can´t get them to walk by your stand maybe it is time to get a few friends and drive to the bucks´ favorite bedding and feeding areas.
Sometimes the only way to tag big bucks like this one is to drive them out of their beds.
 

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