John's Journal...

Driving Bow Buck Deer

Day 2: Understand the Importance of the Deer’s Nose When Bowhunters Drive Deer

Editor’s Note: You’ll rarely ever hear the term, “putting on a deer drive,” in relationship to bowhunting. Most hunters never consider the possibility of driving deer when they bowhunt, mainly due to the perception of how to conduct a deer drive. But deer drives can be very effective for bowhunters.

Click for Larger ViewMany hunters try and deceive a buck's nose by using deer scents, deer lures, food scents and cover scents to get a buck to come to within bow range. But can you use the opposite principle to take a buck? Can you use human odor to put a buck within bow range? I first learned this tactic several years ago when I hunted with Donald and Jody Spence - a husband-and-wife team from Monticello, Mississippi, who consistently took bucks every season with their bows. "We know that older-age-class bucks like to stay in thick cover and only will leave thick cover during daylight hours when they feel hunting pressure," Donald Spence explaind to me. "Luckily on the lands we hunt, we have several patches of really-thick cover that are about a half a city block in diameter. You easily can see the deer trails going in and out of that thick cover. But, if you try to go into the cover to take the bucks, you'll spook them and never get a shot. And, if you take a stand on the edge of that thick cover, you'll rarely, if ever, see the bucks, because they'll only leave that cover after dark, unless they’re spooked. So, Jody and I decided to start using man-drives to move the bucks out of the cover and to within bow range."

Click for Larger ViewThe Spences’ simple two-man deer drive works surprisingly well. On the first drive, Donald and Jody already will have found a trail where they think a buck will exit. Then, Jody quietly and cautiously will climb into a tree stand on the downwind side of the thicket they've put up the day before close to a deer trail. Donald will wait below the stand until Jody has settled in the tree with her harness on, her bow in her hand. Then he leaves Jody and moves to the upwind side of the thicket. The Spences generally select a thicket to hunt that’s bordered by some type of terrain break, like a road, on one side and a creek on the other or a thicket between two fire breaks, places where bucks want to stay and can't leave without exposing themselves to the open ground. "By the time I get into position to start the drive, Jody usually has been on her stand for about 30 minutes," Donald reports. "I begin to walk as quietly as I possibly can from one side of the thicket to the other side. I try to make as little noise as possible, but I do want my human odor to flow all the way through the thicket." As Donald Spence walks a zigzag pattern from side-to-side through the thicket, he'll stop occasionally and break a dead limb to make a cracking sound. "I want the buck to know I'm in the thicket, but I don't want him to know exactly where I am," Donald Spence emphasizes.

Click for Larger ViewBy knowing your location, the buck can lay still and let you walk past him or break and run, if you walk toward him. However, if the buck doesn't realize your exact place in the thicket, because he smells human odor and hears limbs breaking in different parts of the thicket, he’ll become very uncomfortable and get-up to try to sneak-out of the thicket, without the driver’s seeing him. Most bucks don't like to break and run when they're aware of humans in their area. They prefer to get out of your way, let you walk past them or move so you can't see them. For this reason, when the buck in the thicket smells human odor, hears the sounds of sticks cracking and realizes you're somewhere close by, many times he'll get-up out of his bed and attempt to quietly slip-out of the thicket to keep you from knowing he exists. A buck often will stop and look back to try and see if he can pinpoint your exact position to avoid you. A buck that’s not terrified usually will wait on the edge of the cover before he crosses open ground, which gives the bowhunter an opportunity to shoot.

Click for Larger View"After we put-on the first drive, Jody and I will switch places," Donald Spence comments. "We'll go to another patch of thick cover, I’ll climb into the tree stand, and Jody will drive. We'll often make two or three drives like this in the morning and two or three small drives in the afternoon. Although no deer-hunting tactic always works all the time, we’ve been successful enough using this two-man drive system that we continue to implement it. Besides, we like bowhunting together and sharing what happens with each other after we make a drive. Many times, Jody will see a bunch of bucks or does out of bow range. I've even sneaked up on a buck in his bed and had a chance to take him. We've found this method to be a very-productive way to hunt whitetails with our bows."

You’ll learn more-intensive hunting information and tips in the new Kindle eBooks,“How to Hunt Deer Up Close: With Bows, Rifles, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows,” “Bowhunting Deer: The Secrets of the PSE Pros,” “Jim Crumley's Secrets of Bowhunting Deer,” Deer and Fixings” and “How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro,” all by John E. Phillips. Go to, type in the names of the books, and download them to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, Smart Phone or computer.

About the Author

John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (AMA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.

Tomorrow: Bowhunters Use Draw Hunt Drives to Take Deer

Check back each day this week for more about "Driving Bow Buck Deer"

Day 1: Two Bowhunters Can Drive Deer Successfully
Day 2: Understand the Importance of the Deer’s Nose When Bowhunters Drive Deer
Day 3: Bowhunters Use Draw Hunt Drives to Take Deer
Day 4: Deer Follow the Path of Least Resistance When Bowhunters Drive Them
Day 5: Bowhunters Need a Hunt Plan to Take Deer on a Drive

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Entry 691, Day 2