Editor’s Note: During the last couple of weeks of deer season, if you haven’t taken your buck, what can you do to insure your success? How can you bag the biggest buck of the season? At this time of the year, the older bucks know more about what you’ll do than you do. To take them, you must do the unexpected.
Much of the time because of where I live in the Southeast, I hunt hardwood bottoms dotted with briar thickets and numerous cane thickets that provide plenty of places for deer to hide during daylight hours. At the end of the season, eight or 10 of my hunting buddies and I will spread out about 50-yards apart to put on a man-drive through a particular section of these woods. We’ll place standers in a horseshoe formation around the area we plan to drive and begin to slowly walk through the woods in two-man teams.
The most-deadly tactic to move bucks out of thick cover at the end of the season usually involves some form of man-drive. On one particular hunting club I belonged to, we put on man-drives every weekend with 50 or 60 hunters. We drove the same property the same way each weekend.
One day when I fell behind on a drive after twisting my ankle, I saw a yelling man and his two sons beating on 1- gallon tin cans with spoons walk right past a thick-cover area. Once the drivers got out of sight, a buck stood-up and tried to slip-out of the thick cover and away from the drivers. When the buck passed not 15-yards from me, headed to the back side of the land, I took him. I learned firsthand that deer could become conditioned to man-drives and use them to their advantage to hold in cover and let the drivers pass by. Therefore since then, on the last hunt of the season each year, we changed our tactics. Instead of whooping and hollering and trying to spook deer out of cover, we went after the big bucks with a different strategy. The deer had learned as long as we walked and hollered, or they could see us, they could hold in thick cover, keep-up with our movements and let us walk on past them without our seeing them.
Each year on the last drive, we’d receive the same instructions from the huntmaster. “Now, boys, we’re going to drive the deer differently this weekend. I don’t want you to holler except every now and then, just to let the other drivers know where you are. When you reach a thick-cover spot, get ready to shoot a buck. Stand, and stare at that cover for about 2 minutes. As long as you move and holler, the deer know where you are. But when you stop and are quiet, they don’t know what’s happened to you. They’ll get nervous. They know you’re in the woods but not where. Deer can’t remain in that cover without having to jump up and run, because they’re afraid you’re looking at them. If the deer sees you, it will think you’re looking at it, whether you actually can see the deer or not. When you stop and get quiet for several minutes without making a sound, the deer have to move. They can’t stand the pressure of a silent hunter.”
Changing strategies at the end of the season will make big bucks move in places where you’ve never seen them earlier. If you hunt a property where hunters utilize man-drives every weekend, use the stop-and-go stalking tactic to force nervous big bucks out of thick cover where you, the other drivers or the standers can get a shot.
To learn more about hunting deer, check out John E. Phillips’ book, “How to Hunt and Take Big Buck Deer on Small Properties,” available in Kindle, print and Audible versions at (http://amzn.to/1vIcj4m). You may have to copy and paste this click into your browser. (When you click on this book, notice on the left where Amazon allows you to read 10% of the book for free, and you can listen to 10% of the books for free and hear 10% for free).
Tomorrow: Rocking Deer Out and Navigating in the Dark at the Last of Deer Season