The Doe Drive

How to move bucks out of cover during the rut.

Field & Stream Online Editors

As good as stand hunting can be when bucks are searching for estrous does, it can be brutally slow once they find them. During the peak-breeding phase of the rut, most mature bucks are holed up with hot does. In most cases, they aren't going to move-unless you move them by coordinating quick-strike, precisely focused drives in one doe bedding area after another.

A friend and I teamed up last season to do just that. While working a small thicket of saplings and brush along a river during the rut, we pushed out 15 does, three small bucks, and one 11-pointer that followed the does along the riverbank. The buck was so close it almost fell at my feet when I shot it.

Peak-rut drives work because once a buck has paired with an estrous doe, the sight and sound of approaching hunters is often not enough to make him leave her side. But when a doe or a group of does is pushed from bedding cover, one or more bucks is apt to follow.

The Setup
Firstyou need to locate doe bedding areas, which are fairly easy to pinpoint and drive. Compared with buck bedrooms, these are often found in more open cover, typically with gentler terrain. Groves of saplings and young cedars or pines, abandoned orchards, patches of honeysuckle, and weedy or brushy cover near feed fields are all likely bed sites. Regenerating riverbottom habitats are especially good.

Pinpoint several of these spots before the rut begins, keying on small, precisely defined pieces of cover. The area my friend and I drove, for example, was ideal. It was only a few acres in size and had a specific funnel shape that allowed us to push deer where we wanted them to go.

In some cases, one person can push these covers, but two or three are usually required, with one to three hunters posted along any funnels deer may use to escape. Lacking an apparent funnel, simply put the posters downwind of the cover in a place where they'll have clear shots.

You want to push slowly toward the posters-without any whooping or stomping-and keep the wind at your back or side. As on any drive, make sure all parties wear plenty of blaze orange and the posters know where they can and can't shoot. If the first doe bedding area fails to produce, move immediately to the next. If your timing is right, a buck will eventually follow a doe right to the guns.