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How to have effective Man Drives for Deer

Deer season is winding down fast and doe days are now in for us in King George and surrounding areas. More hunters will take advantage of the either sex days in the woods, coupled with the Christmas break. A great many man drives will be attempted; some successfully and some not so successfully.

While your outdoor writer prefers to employ still hunting techniques over doing drives a well run man drive is tough to beat when you have the man (or woman) power to get it done and put meat in the truck. So what constitutes a good man drive?
Most would say a successful man drive for deer would mean that more than a few deer were taken. Certainly the drive must be completed in utmost safety.
Necessary components
To conduct a successful and safe man drive you need several things. First, you need a leader who will direct the drive. That person does not have to be one that is a dictator but certainly someone that is respected and one that knows the lay of the land well that is being hunted.
Second, you need a number of people to do the drive right. If you have too few hunters, the deer slip through your lines.
Third, a good topo and / or aerial photo is needed. Use the maps to figure out where saddles are located and deer slip through. Combine this knowledge with a discussion with hunters that use the property to get a clear picture of the comings and goings of the deer.
Fourth, good communication and a plan is necessary. You cannot just wing a drive and pull it off very successfully. Use of two-way radios is good to keep contact between standers and drivers. Drivers should be within sight of each other all the time for safety purposes and to keep deer from sneaking back through the line.
Last, good shooting to take deer humanely is very important. Hunters that take pot shots, long shots or spray and pray are not welcome on any drive I am part of.
Tactics
Look over those maps, discuss with hunters in your group and lay out a plan well before attempting to move through a property. Anecdotal info is crucial to tightening up spots that need squeezed due to deer slipping through. Mark on the map where standers will be located. Use easily identifiable landmarks to emplace your standers.
Be sure to put hunters in places where they will be able to cover a decent area. Knolls overlooking a swamp, a treestand with a good view, a ridge top, and the edge of a field all make good spots. Pay attention to the habitat too. Deer cruise through the edges of habitats. Pine thickets that come to a marsh will be a good spot to find deer sneaking along.
Place veteran hunters near new hunters to assist them and put your best shooters in spots where the tougher shots may take place. Many drive hunts are conducted with buckshot. I prefer slugs but in some situations a slug gun is tough or not as safe to use on a drive. Put those slug guns overlooking open land where shots are longer and open. The buckshot users can take deer in the thickets. Use good quality buckshot that patterns well in your guns, too. I love the HeviShot buckshot because it really packs a punch.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew. This is a very common mistake. Drivers want to walk through a huge piece of property with half dozen guys and three standers and wonder why they were not successful. If your leader of the drive insists on doing this time and again, it is time to convince them to try a different tactic or start hunting on your own. Sometimes the smaller drives covering a few acres of land are far more successful than a dozen guys trying to kick up deer to standers on forty acres or more. If the land is open, you might be able to get away with less manpower but in thick areas or marsh bottoms you need more people or make the drive several drives.
Lastly, be sure to hold a safety brief to ensure everyone knows what is going to happen, where the fields of fire are and when the drive will start and stop. No deer is worth an accident in the woods. I don’t care how big it is. Wear plenty of orange too. Take sure shots and think before you shoot. Is it worth crippling a deer and tracking it all-afternoon or just let it go and then maybe roust it on the next drive?
Good hunting these last few days!    Merry Christmas

By Mark Fike
Journal Outdoor Writer

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