Are Deer Drives a Thing of The Past?

Whitetail Bucks on Deer Drives“Loop around this wooded funnel in the corn field and walk through, push something to me.”  My father had just given a near holy task to me as a 12 year old boy, push a deer to him. As a young boy, spending a morning freezing with my dad was darn special and having part of the hunt ride on my shoulders in my mind, made me about as damn near close to being a real hunters as I could get.  Halfway through the briar clogged funnel, two shots rang out.  My father’s 870 is something special.  When it goes off, something will be tagged.  Say what you want about a smooth bore barrel.  Remington sluggers are like shooting bowling balls.  But to a 12 year old boy, the magic of laying hands on a deer was still something to get used to. In the years to come, that same drive and gun produced more meat for our freezer than any other spot we could hunt.

Ok, drives are frowned upon in today’s land management deer hunting world.  Can they be counter effective and drive deer off your property.  Yes.  Do they force deer to go nocturnal.  Yes, I believe so. But drives aren’t all bad, they are darn effective and I refuse to be shamed into talking bad about drives.  I killed one of my best bucks on a well played push. They work, and here are the things to look for to set up a successful drive.

When I set up for a drive, I look at these three things: Woods size, funnel direction, wind direction.

Bigger is not always better when it comes to deer drives.  Sure, you can make a drive work almost anywhere and I’ve killed deer pushing endless tracts of woodlands.  But smaller chunks of land concentrate deer.  The chances of you pushing deer to your friends is far greater in a small ten acre piece of woods than in 1,000 acres of land. 

When analyzing a piece of woods, ask yourself about the natural direction of the funnel?  What way will those deer run to escape.  Although you learn escape routs over time, you can make educated guesses by considering the natural direction of the funnel.  Post  shooters on natural exits from the funnel.

Use the wind to move deer.  Crashing through the woods making tons of noise is certainly one way to execute a drive.  But think about just how fast those deer will be cruising past your buddies hoping for a shot.  Move at an even pace when walking and try if you can to have the wind at your back.  Many times I have used the wind to blow through the funnel to move deer at a slower jog past my shooters.  Two of the bucks on our walls fell because of this.

Gun choice for a drive in thick cover is also a point of discussion. I bought my first rifle at a young age and chose a .270 for its all around performance and capabilities.  While this gun has punched my lungs over its tenure, I have also realized it is not the best for thick cover.  My personal conviction for the best thick cover drive gun is a smooth bore 12 gauge shooting Remington Sluggers.  As I said earlier, this is like shooting a bowling ball through a deer.  For close quarters, a Slugger from a shotgun will blow through most small material.

Deer drives can be effective if executed correctly.  Keep woods since, land direction, escape routes and wind in mind.  But please, if you do participate in a deer drive, know where you are shooting and wear orange.  Being mindful of where everyone is, is key to the safety of the operation.

Jason Reid

Last Updated: January 13th, 2015

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