By Dan Infalt

During gun deer season a lot of deer get killed by hunters doing drives. As most folks know, drives are when hunters gather in groups and surround bedding areas and push deer out into the open for their partners to shoot.  Some of the biggest bucks each year are shot during gun deer drives.

However, is driving deer good or bad on your private property?  If you’re trying to kill and manage for big bucks, I am going to say you’re hurting your property. While it might be the best option for the moment, it’s probably not for the long run.

Don’t take me wrong, I too love to do deer drives. But I never drive private property I have control of. Most of my drives are done on public land or by invite, and I make it clear that I don’t return the favor with my private spots. Driving a farm can really hurt it’s future potential, as it destroys a mature buck’s sense of security in their bedding areas. A mature buck seeks out a place where it rarely has issues with human scent or intrusion. That said, going into those spots on drives eliminates your property as one of these trusted “safe” locations.

Also, if you have a big buck on your land and do a drive, its likely one of the others in the drive gets the buck and not you! Just as likely, the buck may get killed by the neighbor when the buck flys through their land or relocates over there. The neighbors also might not be as willing to let the bucks you pass go once you push them onto their property. Many hunters sit in their stands all day waiting for the neighbors to drive the deer to them. Don’t give your neighbors this luxury!

If that wasn’t worrisome enough, it’s also quite common for mistakes to happen in the fast pace of deer busting cover during drives, and small bucks or fawns get accidentally shot. “I thought it was bigger, or I thought it was a doe” are common after the drive statements.

Conversely, when the neighbors drive, and you don’t, bucks will begin to know your land as the safe haven to hide on. I truly believe that stopping drives on your land is a small step towards great future rewards. As in most things having to do with big buck killing, patience is key.

I shot this buck on a private 70 acre property surrounded by heavy pressure just 2 years after talking the land owner into stopping future deer drives on that property. Prior to this buck, seeing a shooter was a very rare occurrence.

So I say all this even though four out of the last five years I shot my big buck on a midday gun deer drive! I know, you’re thinking what gives? Well when the hunting gets slow, me and my hunting partners go do deer drives on public land that is not managed. You would be surprised at the size of the bucks that are on some public properties. And you might just learn a new great bow hunting spot while out doing drives too.

I shot this buck on a deer drive on public land while not putting pressure on my private.

When seeking out public properties to hunt while resting your private, it’s a good idea to concentrate on certain types of public land that are more likely to hold big bucks. I look for marshes, and swamps mainly. Other hunters either can’t, or won’t drive every inch of wet areas and big bucks use those “wet & thick” areas to hide. Because of this, there are usually some bucks that make it to maturity in these marshes and swamps.

To wrap it up. I think deer drives can be both good or bad. It really depends on what your goals are, and where you’re hunting. My recommendation is to hunt smart on your land, and if you want to do drives, stick to public.

Dan Infalt
The big buck serial killer