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