Stage a Deer Drive to Locate Deer to Take with Your CVA Muzzleloader

Through my many years of finding deer to hunt with my muzzleloader, I’ve learned that using bedding-area deer drives can be productive and that identifying a buck’s scrape line may or may not work to locate bucks.

* Hold a bedding-area deer drive if you can find escape routes leading away from bedding areas. Many hunters disregard bedding sites as likely places to take bucks with their muzzleloaders. The chances of taking an undisturbed buck in his bed are remote. However, if you find the escape trails whitetails use when they are spooked from their beds, you often can bag a buck. Deer beds can be distinguished by locating areas where leaves are packed-down in the outline of a deer’s body. By mid-morning, deer usually have bedded-down after feeding. In an hour, deer can eat their fill, bed in a safe place, regurgitate the partially-chewed food and chew it again before finally swallowing it.

Here’s how the drive can work. One hunter takes a stand along a deer’s escape route downwind from the bedding site. The second hunter walks slowly and quietly into the bedding cover from the opposite side, allowing his human odor to drift into the bedding area to spook the deer and drive it down the escape trail and into the sights of the first hunter.

I remember a buck I hunted in a soybean field a few seasons ago. As I approached the field, I always saw his high rack and large body, but he was out of range every time. Whenever I attempted to get closer, the buck left the field by an escape trail – no matter how carefully I stalked him. I then got a friend to help me. We crawled up to the edge of the field and saw the white antlers above the beans. “Give me 30 minutes,” I whispered. “Then stand up, and walk toward the buck.” I circled the field, and positioned myself on the escape trail 50-yards from the field and 30-yards from the trail. I heard the beans swishing and spotted the buck on the run. Twenty yards from the edge of the field, he slowed his gait and began to walk down the escape trail that led into the woods and thick cover and right into the center of my scope. I squeezed the trigger on my CVA Muzzleloader, and the buck dropped. That was a simple, successful two-man drive.

* Locate a buck’s line of scrapes, and take a stand near the line or between the scrapes and the feeding area. Many articles have been written on hunting deer during the rut, and many of them discuss scrape hunting. Scrapes are bare, pawed-up places with a strong smell of deer urine. Hooked, splintered twigs and crushed leaves over the scrape act as a stop sign for does ready to breed. A doe is in heat for 30 hours and then comes back into heat 28 days later. Bucks make scrapes and frequent them to meet willing does. The bucks return periodically to freshen-up their scrapes.

Former wildlife specialist for the Mississippi Cooperative Extension Service Dr. Ross Shelton, however, believes that scrapes aren’t always sure bets for hunters. “Suppose a buck has a line of six scrapes,” Shelton explains, “and the hunter takes a stand close to scrape No. 3. If the buck comes to check for a doe, he may find a female at scrape No. 6. The buck may spend a lot of time with that doe, walking with her and waiting for her to stop so he can service her. The buck may stay with her until the third day, hoping she will permit him to breed her. Meanwhile, the hunter doesn’t see anything for 3 days. On the fourth day, the buck may work his scrapes again, but he may stop at scrape No. 1 first and find a doe. Hunting scrapes is not always a sure way to take a buck.”

by: John E. Phillips, avid muzzleloading hunter for 35 years.

Question:
Can you tell us about your experience for using man-drives in taking deer with your CVA rifle?

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Hunt Bucks with Your CVA Muzzleloader by Learning Where Deer Stay

Food, water, fear and sex are forces that motivate deer and determine their behavior. Here are some ideas from longtime deer hunters about where deer like to hold.

* Realize deer often overcome many obstacles to feed on their favorite foods. Empty white oak and water oak acorn shells directed my friend and avid deer hunter Allen O’Dell to a hardwood bottom in a southern river swamp one year. O’Dell knew the deer were feeding on the acorns in this particular bottom, because he had found many tracks, droppings and cracked acorns during pre-season scouting. But heavy rains fell before O’Dell could hunt. The flats where the deer ordinarily fed were flooded with 3 to 8 feet of water. Most of the ridges out in the water were very narrow, and there was little food on them. But the ridges were the only places where the deer could have gone.

As O’Dell started to wade across a slough toward a ridge, he saw some movement in the water out of the corner of his eye. At first, he thought it was caused by ducks. However, as he stood motionless, he spotted a doe standing chest-deep in the slough 20-yards from the bank, feeding on floating acorns. “Apparently, when the water came into the bottom, fallen acorns had floated-up and formed a ring about 20-yards from dry ground,” O’Dell told me later. “The deer stuck her nose into the water, picked up floating acorns and then let the water run out of her mouth before popping the shells.” For the next 2 weeks, O’Dell hunted the slough and, though he saw many deer, he didn’t get a shot. “I would see as many as 20 to 30 deer in a drove moving through the slough,” he reported. “They were eating the acorns out in the water, but bedding on the ridges.” Normally, hunters wouldn’t expect to find deer in water, but because this region had had floods, deer went after and ate their preferred food, until they exhausted the supply.

* Find the trails whitetails travel to their main food source, which is what O’Dell did. “There were three places where the deer crossed the bottom,” he explained. “After some investigation, I found three crossings where they forded the slough in comparatively-shallow water. They could cross on these fords and only be in 3 or 4 feet of water. In 2 weeks of hunting, I shot three bucks, which was legal in my home state of Alabama, and saw between 150 to 200 animals by taking stands near the fords.”

The trail the deer utilize to go to a favored food source is often the best place for you to take your stand. Sometimes, there are several trails leading to a particular food source, and many hunters try to guess which trail is used most. “One of the best methods I’ve found to determine whether or not deer are using a trail is to check the place where the trail goes under a barbed-wire fence,” Dr. Ross Shelton, former wildlife specialist for the Mississippi Cooperative Extension Service, explains. “There will be deer hair in the barbs of the fence if the deer are using the trail. Remove the hair each day. Then check daily to see it new hair is stuck on the wire.” A heavily-used trail will have many deer tracks on it, and you’ll find a large amount of fresh deer droppings there. The freshness of the droppings can be determined by squeezing a few between your thumb and index finger. A fresh dropping is soft, but an old dropping is hard and dry, unless there’s been rain recently.

By: John E. Phillips, longtime muzzleloading deer hunter.

Question: Do you use trail cameras to find bucks, and what have you learned from them that’s strange and unexpected? Let us hear from you.

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How to Start Hunting Deer with a CVA Muzzleloader

Tips for the beginning muzzleloader

To successfully deer hunt with your CVA muzzleloader, you must know the game better and be more conscious of the wind than you are when you hunt with a conventional rifle. When you pick up your CVA rifle, you’ve made the decision to hunt white-tailed deer the way your forefathers did. Here are some tips for muzzleloading beginners.

Know Your Equipment

Hunting deer with black powder means you may have to carry more accessories in your pouch than you do when hunting with a modern deer rifle. The blackpowder shooter may have to take with him patch lube, solvent, powder, balls, patches, a ramrod, cleaning jags and a ball-pulling worm in case a patch gets stuck.

Understand the Limitations of Some Muzzleloaders

COD_CVA_2012The reason your effective range changes when you use a muzzleloader instead of conventional weapons is because your ability to sight through an open sight is much-less accurate than your ability to sight through a telescopic sight. The effective range of a blackpowder rifle generally is determined more by the hunter’s ability to see and sight-in rather than the rifle’s ability to perform at greater distances. But today more hunters are opting to put riflescopes on their muzzleloaders, and more states will permit riflescopes on muzzleloaders. Make sure you know the regulations about using scopes in the state where you’ll be hunting. Check-out www.durasight.com to learn about DuraSight scope rings and bases for mounting scopes.

Remember, You Have One Shot

Making the mental conversion from a five-shot hunt to a one-shot hunt often is difficult for many hunters. Often due to the multiple-shot concept, a hunter will take whatever shot is presented to him as soon as it’s offered, feeling that if he doesn’t bag the deer with the first bullet, he still has a chance to down his buck. However, when using a muzzleloader, the muzzleloading hunter must wait for that one shot. Although he can see the deer, if the deer doesn’t present a good killing shot, then the blackpowder hunter can’t shoot and may have to watch his trophy walk off.

Scout During the Pre-Season

Pre-season scouting is much-more critical to the success of the CVA muzzleloading hunter than it is to the conventional-weapon hunter. Not only does the primitive-weapon hunter have to find an area homing a deer, he usually must have that deer within 50 yards to take the animal.

Learn What to Do after the First Shot

When a hunter cleans his rifle and reloads, no matter how clean he is, and how much scent disguise he uses, his clothing and body still will absorb some of that blackpowder smell. He also has another problem – what to do with the patch he uses to clean his rifle. Of course blackpowder shooters don’t want to litter the forest with patches. Some hunters use only as little cleaning solvent and patch lube as possible. Then after cleaning their muzzleloaders, they suggest you take off your boot and sock, place the patch inside and then put the sock and boot back on your foot. You also can wear some kind of scent pad on the sole of your boot to keep the odor in the cleaning patch from moving into the air where the deer can smell it. Or, a better method is to carry a Zip-Loc bag in your hunting coat and place the used patch in it.

Go Deep and Hunt Responsibly

The smart CVA muzzleloading hunter will travel deep into the woods to hunt. He will search for undisturbed deer and hunt lands few other hunters ever see, just like America’s early frontiersmen did. As a conservationist and a deer manager, a responsible blackpowder hunter will harvest an unantlered deer in the areas and the states where needed and permitted, since the sport of muzzleloading requires skill and patience to take any deer.

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Hunt Bucks with Your CVA Muzzleloader by Learning Where Deer Stay

Food, water, fear and sex are forces that motivate deer and determine their behavior. Here are some ideas from longtime deer hunters about where deer like to hold.

* Realize deer often overcome many obstacles to feed on their favorite foods. Empty white oak and water oak acorn shells directed my friend and avid deer hunter Allen O’Dell to a hardwood bottom in a southern river swamp one year. O’Dell knew the deer were feeding on the acorns in this particular bottom, because he had found many tracks, droppings and cracked acorns during pre-season scouting. But heavy rains fell before O’Dell could hunt. The flats where the deer ordinarily fed were flooded with 3 to 8 feet of water. Most of the ridges out in the water were very narrow, and there was little food on them. But the ridges were the only places where the deer could have gone.

As O’Dell started to wade across a slough toward a ridge, he saw some movement in the water out of the corner of his eye. At first, he thought it was caused by ducks. However, as he stood motionless, he spotted a doe standing chest-deep in the slough 20-yards from the bank, feeding on floating acorns. “Apparently, when the water came into the bottom, fallen acorns had floated-up and formed a ring about 20-yards from dry ground,” O’Dell told me later. “The deer stuck her nose into the water, picked up floating acorns and then let the water run out of her mouth before popping the shells.” For the next 2 weeks, O’Dell hunted the slough and, though he saw many deer, he didn’t get a shot. “I would see as many as 20 to 30 deer in a drove moving through the slough,” he reported. “They were eating the acorns out in the water, but bedding on the ridges.” Normally, hunters wouldn’t expect to find deer in water, but because this region had had floods, deer went after and ate their preferred food, until they exhausted the supply.

* Find the trails whitetails travel to their main food source, which is what O’Dell did. “There were three places where the deer crossed the bottom,” he explained. “After some investigation, I found three crossings where they forded the slough in comparatively-shallow water. They could cross on these fords and only be in 3 or 4 feet of water. In 2 weeks of hunting, I shot three bucks, which was legal in my home state of Alabama, and saw between 150 to 200 animals by taking stands near the fords.”

The trail the deer utilize to go to a favored food source is often the best place for you to take your stand. Sometimes, there are several trails leading to a particular food source, and many hunters try to guess which trail is used most. “One of the best methods I’ve found to determine whether or not deer are using a trail is to check the place where the trail goes under a barbed-wire fence,” Dr. Ross Shelton, former wildlife specialist for the Mississippi Cooperative Extension Service, explains. “There will be deer hair in the barbs of the fence if the deer are using the trail. Remove the hair each day. Then check daily to see it new hair is stuck on the wire.” A heavily-used trail will have many deer tracks on it, and you’ll find a large amount of fresh deer droppings there. The freshness of the droppings can be determined by squeezing a few between your thumb and index finger. A fresh dropping is soft, but an old dropping is hard and dry, unless there’s been rain recently.

By: John E. Phillips, longtime muzzleloading deer hunter.

Question: Do you use trail cameras to find bucks, and what have you learned from them that’s strange and unexpected? Let us hear from you.

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How Duck Hunting Info Can Help You To Take Bucks With Your CVA Muzzleloader

Many public-hunting areas are open for waterfowl season during deer season. Often public-hunting regions have specific days set aside for gun deer hunting. On these days, you often can hunt waterfowl and small game. In many public-hunting areas, you’ll find flooded timber, oxbow lakes, slow-moving creeks and streams just off the main rivers or creeks. So, early in the morning, use your john-boat or canoe to look for waterfowl. One of the quickest and least-expensive ways to find waterfowl on public-hunting lands is to fly over the land in a small airplane. Mark good concentrations of waterfowl as way points on a hand-held GPS receiver. Then check these places for ducks, while scouting before waterfowl season.

Many times, you’ll find that these backwater and flooded-timber areas will have acorns floating on the surface that ducks will eat. The acorns will be pushed-up against the shoreline by the wind and are also deer hot spots, since deer will walk the water’s edge and eat the acorns. Let’s face it, getting to your deer stand by boat is a hassle. Boat hunters may have to get up an hour or more before other hunters to load up their boats, hitch them to their vehicles, drive to a launch site, put their boats in the water and travel to the site before daylight. Then they still have to find sites for their tree stand or ground blind. These reasons are why most deer hunters don’t go to their stand sites by water. But you have the opportunity to hunt where most hunters don’t hunt and take the bucks with your CVA muzzleloader that most hunters never will see. You have a greater chance of not only getting your buck, but being back to your hunting camp or home earlier than most hunters.

By: John E. Phillips, longtime waterfowler and outdoor writer.

Question:
If you have a story about using a boat or waders to get to a spot to take a big buck, let us know. We want to hear from you.

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How to Apply Private Land Scouting Tactics to Public Lands

If you’re hunting private land, you can save a lot of boot leather by spending time with the landowner and a map. The landowner can show you ponds, creeks, crops, acorn trees and bedding sites on his property. He’s on that land every day and sees deer, often by day and by night, so he probably can direct you to the best areas to hunt. Even if you’re on a lease with several-other people, more than likely, the landowner knows where the other people usually hunt.

On state-run public lands, the people with the most knowledge about those properties are the wildlife biologist, the WMA manager and the WMA forester. If a company or a corporation owns the public land you’re hunting, they’ll also employ the services of a forester, a wildlife manager and/or a land manager for that property. These resource people know more about the deer, the land and the terrain than anyone else. Like a private landowner, they usually are on these public lands all year long. They know where they see deer and deer signs and where deer are coming and going. However, most public-land hunters never meet with these resource people. If you take your maps and set-up a time and place to meet with these individuals, your odds are much greater for locating the best places to hunt and to take deer.

Another secret for finding productive regions to hunt on public lands, even on lands that don’t allow motorized vehicles, is to go to these properties during the summer months, when all the gates are open, and you can drive to pinpoint overlooked hunting areas. You probably won’t see another hunter in the woods then. I believe the hunter who spends the most time in the woods all year long and learns the most about the deer on the land has the greatest chance of taking the best bucks, whether he’s hunting public or private lands. The more time you spend practicing a sport, the better you will become at it. People who view deer hunting as recreation will be happy just to sit in the woods quietly without a cell phone, a TV, a radio or someone to talk to and take a buck. However, they won’t take as many nice deer as the hunter who views deer hunting as a sport and works and trains for that sport all year long.

The fear of success and the thought of having to drag big deer out by themselves may discourage many public-land hunters from hunting deep in the woods. But if you plan before the season to involve your friends, neighbors and family members who hunt to help you, you can agree to react like volunteer fire fighters if anyone takes a deer. The hunter who takes the deer will mark the spot where the deer is and call the other members of his hunting team, who then can help the successful hunter get his deer out of the woods. When you hunt public lands, plan for success.

By: Travis Johnson, avid deer hunter and the host of “Travis Johnson Outdoors,” an outdoor TV show on CSS and Fox Sports South.

What tactics do you use to consistently find good deer on public lands?

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TV Host Travis Johnson Scouts and Hunts Three Places at Once

I do most of my scouting on foot. I look for trails, tracks, droppings, bedding areas and feeding sites. Once I have the deer patterned in an area, I’ll pick out three stand sites and the trees where I most want to hunt. Because I travel so much and hunt so-many different areas, I don’t really have time to concentrate on one specific piece of property. So, when I go to a new region, I’ll put out Plotwatcher trail cameras (http://day6outdoors.com/products/plotwatcher) on two places and hunt from another area. This way, I effectively can hunt three-different locations and determine which site offers the greatest chance for success. Seeing most of the bucks on the property and determining when and where they’re moving doesn’t take long. One big misconception that some hunters have is you don’t have to do any scouting if you use trail cameras. However, the more effectively you can scout on foot, the faster you can find optimum places to put your trail cameras.

Although I’ve had the opportunity at times to hunt really-good private land, I also still hunt public land. If you know where to set-up on public lands, you may have just as good an opportunity to take an older-age-class buck as you will on private land. Often, the advantage of hunting private land is it doesn’t have as much hunting pressure. But, if you study aerial photos and topo maps of public lands, you can pinpoint hard-to-reach places most hunters won’t hunt. Remember, an older-age-class buck doesn’t get to be that old by moving during daylight hours where lots of hunters hunt. The public-land hunter who’s successful is willing to walk 2-5 miles away from access roads, cross water and crawl through thickets. You don’t just take deer, turkey and/or hogs on public lands. You earn them.

One secret to reaching remote areas of public lands where you hunt is to gain permission from the landowners whose properties back-up to those remote places. Most hunters go onto public land the same way all the other hunters do. Rarely will they go to the trouble of locating property owners on the edges of public-hunting areas to get into remote public lands. My best public-land buck was an 8-pointer that scored about 120. This buck was really pretty, and I probably would have harvested him, even on private land. Because I had access across private property to get to a remote part of the nearby public land, I found and took a nice buck. You can too, when you’re hunting with a muzzleloader.

By: Travis Johnson, avid deer hunter and the host of “Travis Johnson Outdoors,” an outdoor TV show on CSS and Fox Sports South.

Editor’s Note: One of the best tips I’ve ever received about hunting with trail cameras was to put a moisture-absorbing packet inside a trail-camera box next to the batteries. Even a waterproof trail-camera can get moisture in it. Do you have another tip for maintenance of trail cameras or how to prevent theft of them? Please respond directly to this post or post your comment or question below.

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Where to Find Big Bucks for This Muzzleloader Hunting Season

Finding trophy bucks to hunt can be easy. To live long enough to become a trophy buck, all the deer have to do is survive long enough to obtain heavy body weights and large antlers. If you can accept this fact, then we can narrow your search down quickly. Trophy bucks most often will be where no hunter hunts. There are several reasons why hunters don’t hunt certain areas.

Most muzzleloader hunters:
* don’t like to cross water to reach their hunting sites where no one else hunts, because most often they either will have to wear a pair of waders or take a canoe or a boat with them.
* don’t hunt in very-thick cover areas, because they know, if they go into that thick cover, they will spook the deer that are there, and they won’t be able to see well enough to spot deer as they move through thick cover.
* don’t hunt usually on properties less than 50 to100 acres. They believe that the more acres they have to hunt, the bigger and better bucks they can find.
* don’t hunt generally where they have to knock on doors and get permission to hunt.
* don’t ask to hunt properties where they see long driveways leading up to very-expensive houses, because they are intimidated by long driveways and expensive houses.

However, the properties with the long driveways and expensive houses are the types of properties I target. When you knock on the door of that expensive house, the person will say, “No, you can’t hunt my property,” or, “Yes, you can hunt my property.” This is the only two answers you will get.

I tell the landowner that if I can get exclusive rights to hunt his property, I will help manage his deer herds and I will help with his other property problems. I’ll cut grass, weed whack grown-up areas and fix and build fences. I try and help the landowner any way I can, if that landowner gives me exclusive permission to hunt that property.

Most of the lands I hunt are from as little as 6 acres to as much as 400 acres. I always look for properties in areas where I’ve seen big bucks. Once I get the exclusive rights to hunt that property, not only do I learn all I can about the property, but also all I can about the properties that border the land where I can hunt. Once I have 6 to 20 acres or more to hunt, if all the property around is being hunted heavily, then that little piece of property that nobody probably ever has hunted before has become a sanctuary for big deer. The more the neighbor’s property is hunted, the more big bucks they will push onto the 6- to 20-acre sanctuary that nobody hunts, but where I’ll set-up.

Next I put-up trail cameras on these small acreages, to try to determine the buck-to-doe ratio and the number of older-age-class bucks that either live in that sanctuary or will stay there during daylight hours. I leave my trail cameras up all year long. This way, I get plenty of pictures of the bucks living on the property and can learn where and when the older-age-class bucks move into these sanctuaries during hunting season. This gives me a better idea on the time during the season I need to hunt this property, and it lets me know at what time the bucks are walking in front of my trail cameras. Too, I identify pinch points and funnels on the properties, because these types of areas are where the deer are most likely to travel to get from one point to another point.

When hunting season comes in, I become a scent freak. I:
* bathe in scent-eliminating soap;
* wash the towel I dry off with in scent-eliminating clothes wash;
* wear a carbon suit to absorb my odor made by Scent-Lok.
* carry odor-eliminating spray in the woods; and
* won’t hunt an area without a favorable wind.

I may have to walk a mile or more out of my way to get to my stand site without the deer seeing or hearing me.

By: Mike Monteleone of Westminster, Maryland, who has been hunting deer for 34 years. He hunts small properties in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware. He gets exclusive permission to be the only hunter who hunts these lands.

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Farmers and Landowners Have Problems Muzzleloader Hunters Can Solve

In many areas of the country, deer populations are out of control. The deer come in at night and feed on flower beds and shrubbery that landowners have planted around their houses. The deer will destroy gardens and crops and often cause vehicle accidents, especially on affluent properties in suburbia.

If the landowner doesn’t hunt or chooses not to hunt, he has no way to control that deer herd. On many of the small properties I hunt that are from 6 acres to 400 acres, the landowner may want me to harvest every deer that I can off that property. However, when I explain I am willing to take the surplus deer off the property, but I want to leave some bucks, so I will have deer to hunt every year, the landowner usually agrees to let me hunt his property that way.

We all figure you can’t manage a deer herd with much success on properties as small as 6 acres. But as soon as I get permission to hunt, I put out trail cameras to inventory the herd that lives on or passes through that property. I try to learn the buck population and how many older-age-class bucks are using that land as a sanctuary.

I identify the landowners, who own property adjacent to the land I can hunt, and learn if the adjacent landowners allow any hunting. Then I develop a deer-management program. I’ll suggest to the property owners and hunters on adjacent properties to the land I hunt how to better manage their deer herds and also allow those deer to move into the older-age-classes for heavier body weights and larger antlers.

Three or four times per year I’ll have meetings with adjacent property owners and share my trail-camera pictures with them, and they’ll share their trail-camera pictures with me. By all of us studying all the pictures we can, we get a really-good idea of what our buck-to-doe ratios are on the lands. This information allows us to decide how-many does we need to harvest off our properties to maintain or reduce the size of the deer herd.

We determine which bucks will go on our hit list (those that can be taken), and which bucks we need to allow to survive to become older-age-class bucks. By all the property owners agreeing to the same management scheme, we are able to determine the number of does we want to harvest each year, and we all agree which individual bucks need to be on our hit list. With this type of management effort from the landowners, we may have 1,000 acres to 5,000 acres to manage under the same management program that produces more deer and bigger bucks for all the property owners.

So, don’t overlook those small places that most muzzleloader hunters believe are too small to hunt. They may become trophy-buck sanctuaries, where you may be able to take older-age-class bucks year after year.

By: Mike Monteleone of Westminister, Maryland, who has been hunting deer 34 years. He hunts small properties in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware. He gets exclusive permission to be the only hunter who hunts these lands.

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Muzzleloading Hunters and the Two Man Deer Drive

Muzzleloader season for deer arrives early in many states. Usually after the first day or two of the season, the bucks know where the hunters are moving and the areas where there’s hunting pressure they need to avoid. Most often they’ll move into thick cover where hunters can’t see them. Two friends of mine in Mississippi have developed one of the best strategies I’ve ever seen for taking these early-season bucks in thick cover. However, they use this strategy successfully throughout the year and have been very effective at harvesting bucks with big antlers and heavy body weights. Jodie and Donald Spence of Monticello, Mississippi, are probably two of the best deer hunters I’ve ever met. Their two-man strategy consistently has paid big-buck dividends for them on both public and private lands. They don’t start hunting until about 8:30 or 9:00 am, and before they begin their hunt, they identify thick-cover areas where no other hunters hunt. Most of these regions are smaller than a half of a city block. They approach the area from downwind, and either Jodie or Donald put up a tree stand on the downwind side of that thick cover as quietly as possible.

Once Jodie’s in the stand, Donald then circles that thick-cover area and gets upwind of the thicket. “I start off by walking all the way across the upwind side of the thicket,” Donald Spence explains. “Jodie and I don’t use any type of odor killer when we’re hunting this way. I want my human odor to go all the way through that thicket. Next I’ll walk a zigzag pattern back and forth through the thicket trying to move as slowly and quietly as I can. Occasionally, I’ll pick-up a dry stick and break it. After I break the stick, I don’t move again for another 30 seconds to a minute. Then I continue to move as quietly and slowly as possible. If there’s a buck holding in that thicket, I want him to know I’m there, but I don’t want him to know exactly where I am. He can smell me, but because I’m moving slowly and quietly, he only may hear me when I stop to break a stick.

“As I get closer to the buck, because he doesn’t know where I am, he usually will get up, start sneaking through the thicket and possibly sneak out at the ends or the sides of the thicket. Using this type of thick-cover man drive, either Jodie or I will get a shot at the buck, because he’s usually walking and looking back instead of running out of the thicket. I’m convinced that most hunters don’t use their human odor to their advantage to move deer. Jodie and I trade-off being the stander and the driver. Most of our drives won’t take 20 to 45 minutes to put on, because we’re hunting small thickets and not large ones. Using this technique, we often can hunt six to eight different thickets during a day of hunting. We’ve found that this is the most-productive way that two hunters who work together have the greatest chance to take an older-age-class buck that most other hunters never see.

“Another advantage to using this one-man drive tactic is when we push a buck out of thick cover and don’t get a shot at him, we can go right back to that same thick-cover place the following week, put a stander where we’ve seen the buck come out of cover and repeat that same kind of drive. The second time we hunt that thicket we’ll most often be able to harvest the buck we haven’t gotten the first time we’ve hunted it.” During muzzleloading deer season, consider a man drive to take bucks. This tactic has and does work.

By John E. Phillips, outdoor writer and avid deer hunter the past 50 years.

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