Illustrations by Andre Malok
Many of the farms Ted Marum hunts have broken habitat–small woodlots, ag fields, brushy draws, CRP, and creekbottoms. Bucks love to tuck up in the small chunks of cover, and it’s easy to surround a little patch with guys, send a driver in there, and push the buck out, Marum says. “Trouble is, he’ll be going Mach 6 and the shooting opportunities are not only terrible but unsafe.” But Marum figured out that while these deer will run like mad to escape immediate danger, they slow down as they enter the next available cover. “If you put your standers at these spots, they’re shooting at bucks on a walk, at ranges close enough to kill them with a bow.”
There are two keys to making it work. The first is to learn the specific place where deer run when they’re scared. “I want to know their ultimate sanctuary; where they slow down before entering, look around to smell and see, and then walk in to hunker down,” says Marum. It can take a drive or two to figure it out, but if you pay attention, the deer will show the spots to you.
“I also look for staging areas in the middle of the drive–wooded spots where a buck runs to right after he’s been jumped and stands for a few minutes to gather his wits.” Since it’s nearly impossible to get a stander in these spots without bumping deer and wrecking the drive, Marum walks a hunter there in the dark on the same morning, hangs a stand, and tells him to sit until the drive comes through. “Sometimes he shoots a buck moving naturally before the drive even begins.”
Marum prefers to drive with a crosswind. “This allows bucks to feel comfortable and to calm down quickly as they run away to escape.” He also directs a fairly quiet drive; the standers get in place as noiselessly as possible, and the drivers don’t hoot or holler. In the open, broken country where Marum hunts, it’s easy to walk through each small patch of cover. “Even if there’s a buck hesitant to move at first, we’ll eventually step on him and he’ll move to his alternate sanctuary–where there will be a poster waiting for him.”
Make him brake with a fake
“When I expect I’ll need to make a running buck stop so a poster can get an easy shot, I stake a decoy nearby. Even a sprinting deer is going to slam on the brakes when he sees that deke. It works every time. For safety reasons, I always wrap an orange shirt around the decoy’s neck.”
Photo by Donald M. Jones