MOST HUNTERS SAVE drives for the late season. But during warm, dry October weather, when buck activity can slow to a crawl, it pays to try an early-season drive. By the time bucks start moving again at the beginning of the rut, they’ll be vacating their October haunts to hang out in doe territory anyway. So you might as well push your luck–and a buck–now. Here’s where, when, and how:

Where: Water-Hole Thickets
Bucks need to drink in dry weather. Before and after the October lull, they may very well hit a pond or stream during shooting light. At the moment, though, the biggest deer are more apt to hang back in thick cover until after darkness falls.

When: Evening
Nearby thickets will hold staging bucks for half an hour or more before dark. That’s when you want to catch them.

How: Three-man drive
The key to this drive is to have a poster circle and slip in behind the bucks, toward their daytime bedding areas, typically uphill of the thickets. As two drivers approach from the upwind or crosswind side, bucks are likely to flee back toward their sleeping quarters, right past the poster. Drivers should move slowly and make little noise. You want to nudge–not spook–the deer, so they walk by the shooter.

Where: Isolated clear-cuts
Nothing satisfies an October buck more than this type of habitat. He has dense cover, enough overstory for shade, and plenty of twigs, shrubs, and forbs to nibble on where he doesn’t have to expose himself.

When: Midday
Clear-cuts are prime spots for bucks to while away the daytime hours, mostly bedding but also occasionally getting up to stretch their legs and snack.

How: Four- to six-man drive
Choose a small, isolated cut, then study the terrain and wind to determine exactly how you and three to five other hunters can slip into a downwind position. Two or three posters should set up at possible funnels–perhaps a brushy creek bed or ravine, or near the densest cover deer will likely flee to. Once the posters are in place, have two or three drivers circle to the upwind side and begin working the cover toward the posters. Their scent alone may nudge deer right past the shooters.