Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Best Chance for the Buck; Mini-Drives Often Work Well for Bow Deer Hunters

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Best Chance for the Buck; Mini-Drives Often Work Well for Bow Deer Hunters

Article excerpt

Byline: Bob McNally

"Driving" deer for bowhunting seems so foolhardy - especially to veteran archers - that the idea seems laughable.

But for bowmen who want to shake things up in their whitetail woods, "driving" deer not only makes sense, but can be deadly effective for archers.

This is especially true for bowmen participating in short-term hunts, especially ones on public land where "drawn" permits only allow access for a few days or so. Slow and careful deer drives by bowmen also can be very effective in windy weather, when whitetails prefer to lay low in tight cover and can be approached within bow range by stealthy sportsmen.Bowhunting deer drives can be productive almost anywhere, but there are some guidelines for success. First, archers aren't really trying to "drive" deer, you just want to move them slowly along.

A running deer shot is tough enough with a rifle or shotgun, and with a bow it's not recommend for anyone. Deer archers "push" shouldn't be driven along in headlong flight, but slowly moved along ahead of hunters.

The best way to achieve this is to use the wind to your advantage. "Standers" position themselves downwind of thick deer cover, while "drivers" enter a whitetail thicket from upwind.

Often deer start slipping out of the woods and toward standers the moment drivers are in position because whitetails detect their human scent. Such deer usually just "slip" along, quietly and carefully, stopping often, looking back and listening. They make for ideal, calm, usually still bow targets.

Another important ingredient to successful bow drives is to keep it small. Two or three hunters is good, five or six are the maximum. Too many cooks spoil this hunting broth, since a lot of bowmen invariably make plenty of racket, and spread lots of human scent. Further, a pretty sizable piece of woods must be "driven" if more than a half-dozen people are involved.

Certain types of deer habitat also make for the best archery deer drives. Small "thickets" formed like islands in a field, or a small creek draw, are great places for bow drives.

In farm fringe country, grown-up fence rows can be perfect spots for mini-drives by bowmen. When field crops like corn are harvested, whitetails can concentrate in even narrow field fence rows.

While the best fence rows are 25 to 75 yards wide, overgrown in briers and tangles, trees big and small, don't overlook field edges having just chest-high grass. Some of the biggest bucks bed in such places, and are largely overlooked by hunters.

In fact, field fence rows where there are no trees are prime places for mini-drives, since trees large enough for hanging tree stands are vacant. Thus drives are about the only sensible way for bowmen to hunt such places. Often such a fence line is along a drainage ditch, usually grown up in thick, buck-loving cover. …

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