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Conduct Effective Man-Drives for Deer on Roads

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Editor’s Note:  A brown muzzle eased out of the thick cover as a deer’s eyes appeared. Finally a wide, high rack came into view. Cautiously, nervously, the buck took two steps into the road. A rifle reported. The buck stumbled and fell. The hunter had his trophy. Let’s look at some of the most-productive places where you can take a buck this hunting season.

Hunters often use roads, right of ways or trails as stand lines when they man-drive to hunt deer. However, here are several considerations before using one of these paths for a stand line.

* Determine which way the wind blows. If the standers are on the road, and the wind blows their scent into the area from which the drivers will come, the deer are less likely to come to the road. If you stand the road, be sure the wind is coming from the same direction from which you expect the deer to approach. By using this tactic, the drivers can utilize their human odor to move the deer to the standers. And, once again, if you’ll put out liquid or powder attractants on the road within 2 feet of where you expect the deer to cross, that attractant often will stop the deer for you to get a shot. Knowing the direction the wind’s blowing before the drive takes place not only will let your drivers know the direction in which they need to drive but also will help you to understand where to put the attractant before the drive begins.

* Do not stand in the road. To man-drive an area and use standers on the roads most effectively, the standers should be in tree stands on opposite sides of the road from where the deer will come. Then the hunters can shoot up and down the road without endangering each other, because their bullets will be aimed toward the ground rather than up the road.

* Put standers high enough into the trees to not only be able to look up and down the roads but also to see into the woods or thickets just past the road. Generally, the deer being driven will approach a road and stop from 6 feet to 10 yards from the road. Then the animals slowly will approach the road. Once they reach the road, they will run or jump quickly across the road, often not permitting time for a shot. Recognizing this characteristic of deer, spray a deer attractant at the spot or the clearing where you anticipate a buck will stop before crossing a road. Then you may get that buck to stay in that spot longer than he normally will. You’ll have more time to get off the shot.

A stander must be on the opposite side of the road from which the deer is coming and high enough in a tree to see the buck when he is within 10 to 20 yards of the road before he crosses the road. The road acts as a stop sign that will cause a deer to walk slowly or stop and present the shot to the hunter before the animal crosses the road, especially if you have an attractant on the edge of the road or at a small clearing that’s only a few yards from the road, inside the thicket from where you expect the buck to come, that you can watch from your tree stand.

* Make sure the drivers walk as slowly as possible. Then their human odor will move the deer instead of frightening the deer with their whooping, hollering and crashing through the brush. Be certain the drivers wear hunter orange on their heads, chests and backs to make them highly visible to the standers.

Before you practice any of these road-hunting strategies, make sure you legally can hunt the roads, right of ways, power lines, trails or firebreaks in your region. Learn what restrictions and regulations govern the hunting of roads in your state and the use of deer attractants, and abide by these laws.

To learn more about hunting deer, go to John E. Phillips’s book, “How to Hunt Deer Up Close with Bows, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows” To receive your free book on “How to Make Venison Jerky,” go to

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