John's Journal...

Try These Last Resort End of the Season Big Buck Deer Tactics

Day 3: How to Blast Deer Out and Make Them Nervous to Get Them Out of Thick Cover

Editor’s Note: On the last week of deer season if you haven't taken your buck, what can you do to insure your success? How can you bag the biggest buck of the season? At this time of the year, the older bucks know more about what you'll do than you do. To take them, you must do the unexpected.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewMuch of the time because of where I live in the Southeast, I hunt hardwood bottoms dotted with briar thickets and numerous cane thickets that provide plenty of places for deer to hide during daylight hours. At the end of the season, eight or 10 of my hunting buddies and I will spread out about 50-yards apart to put on a man-drive through a particular section of these woods. We'll place standers in a horseshoe formation around the area we plan to drive and begin to slowly walk through the woods in two-man teams.

When either of the two-man team spots a small thicket that may contain a buck, he'll whistle to the other driver. The drivers will stand on either side of the thicket, while one hunter lights a firecracker and throws it into the thicket. That loud blast will jar even the cagiest buck out of the cover and provide a shot for either the drivers or the standers. But we never use firecrackers unless the woods have had plenty of rain, and no chance of fire exists.

Make the Bucks Nervous to Get Them Out Of the Thick Cover:

The most-deadly tactic to move bucks out of thick cover at the end of the season usually involves some form of man-drive. On one particular hunting club I belonged to, we put on man-drives every weekend with 50 or 60 hunters. We drove the same property the same way each weekend.

One day when I fell behind a drive after twisting my ankle, I saw a yelling man and his two sons beating on 1- gallon tin cans with spoons walk right past a thick-cover area. Once the drivers got out of sight, a buck stood-up and tried to slip-out of the thick cover and away from the drivers. When the buck passed not 15-yards from me, headed to the back side of the land, I took him. I learned firsthand that deer could become conditioned to man-drives and use them to their advantage to hold in cover and let the drivers pass by. Therefore since then, on the last hunt of the season each year, we change our tactics. Instead of whooping and hollering and trying to spook deer out of cover, we went after the big bucks with a different strategy. The deer had learned as long as we walked and hollered, or they could see us, they could hold in thick cover, keep-up with our movements and let us walk on past them without our seeing them.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewEach year on the last drive, we'd receive the same instructions from the huntmaster. "Now, boys, we're going to drive the deer differently this weekend. I don't want you to holler but every now and then, just to let the other drivers know where you are. When you reach a thick-cover spot, get ready to shoot a buck. Stand, and stare at that cover for about 2 minutes. As long as you move and holler, the deer know where you are. But when you stop and are quiet, they don't know what's happened to you. They'll get nervous. They know you're in the woods but not where. Deer can't remain in that cover without having to jump up and run, because they're afraid you're looking at them. If the deer sees you, it will think you're looking at it, whether you actually can see the deer or not. When you stop and get quiet for several minutes without making a sound, the deer have to move. They can't stand the pressure of a silent hunter."

Changing strategies at the end of the season will make big bucks move in places where you've never seen them earlier. If you hunt a property where hunters utilize man-drives every weekend, use the stop-and-go stalking tactic to “nervous” big bucks out of thick cover where you, the other drivers or the standers can get a shot.

For more deer-hunting tips, get John E. Phillips’ Kindle eBooks “How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro,”
How to Hunt Deer Up Close: With Bows, Rifles, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows,” and “PhD Whitetails: How to Hunt and Take the Smartest Deer on Any Property,” or to prepare venison, get “Deer & Fixings.” Click on each, or go to, type in the name of the book, and download it to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.


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About the Author

John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) 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: Rattle the Deer Out and Become a Night Hunter at the Last of Deer Season

Check back each day this week for more about Try These Last Resort End of the Season Big Buck Deer Tactics"

Day 1: Hunting Deer Backwards at the End of the Season for Success
Day 2: You’ll Have to Work Hard to Take a Big Buck in January
Day 3: How to Blast Deer Out and Make Them Nervous to Get Them Out of Thick Cover
Day 4: Rattle the Deer Out and Become a Night Hunter at the Last of Deer Season
Day 5: Hunt the Slack Times and Out-Hunt the Green Field Hunters in January

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Entry 752, Day 3