John's Journal...


Techniques for Western Drives

EDITOR’S NOTE: On a western hunt several years ago, I couldn’t see a tree, a bush or a blade of grass on the horizon. Accustomed to hunting the river-bottom swamps of my home state of Alabama, I couldn’t imagine how we would drive deer in this wide-open country. Although I had heard that deer in other parts of the nation did not seem as hunter-sensitive as Alabama whitetails, I still thought a buck would have to lose his mind to walk across that open ground. I told my guide, Chris Yeoman of Rapid City, South Dakota, “There’s nothing out here to drive deer out of,” as we looked over the bleak prairie country.

Click to enlargeBut Yeoman assured me we would drive the deer out of, “Those creek bottoms,” as he pointed off to our left to a ribbon of trees about 100-yards wide by 1/2-mile long. Alabama hunters would have called these creek bottoms drainage ditches, because a 5-year-old boy easily could have jumped across them. I mentioned to Yeoman that, “This kind of hunting reminds me of shooting ducks in a barrel. If a deer walks down that ‘creek bottom,’ it either will have to remain in the woods or break out of the woods and run across that open ground. So I guess we’ll take stand in the woods, right?”

“Wrong,” Yeoman said. “We’ll shoot the deer when they break out of the trees.” Yeomen explained further that one driver would zig-zag back and forth through the creek bottom while the standers took positions on the edge of the woodlot. “Will we take shots at running deer?” I asked Yeoman. “Almost always,” Yeoman answered. When I asked how far we would have to shoot, Yeoman smiled and said, “About 200 to 500 yards.” Click to enlargeFrom this Western drive I learned that unlike Eastern hunters, when these Western outdoorsmen saw trophy bucks, they didn’t get very excited. They took their time, lay down on the ground, set up their bipods and aimed at the bucks as they ran. Accustomed to shooting coyotes on the run, they didn’t find shooting an animal as big as a deer a problem. According to Yeomen, “If a buck runs all out at 300 to 500 yards, you may have to aim at his nose to cause the bullet to land behind his front shoulder. If that buck runs up a canyon or a mountain at those same distances, I may put the crosshairs on top of the buck’s head where the antlers go into the skull. By using that aiming point, the bullet should land in the center of the deer’s back.”

Click to enlarge This Western style of driving deer breaks with my traditional concept of what makes up a deer drive. These hunters don’t expect to take standing-still shots or close shots at bucks. But, they often have successful deer drives because most sportsmen in their area don’t believe these creek bottoms will hold trophy-sized bucks. However, trophy hunters like Yeoman and his hunting buddy, Dr. Jim Nelson, also from Rapid City, have learned how to overcome all the reasons most outdoorsmen find not to hunt and bag bucks in these creek bottoms. They use their unusual man-drive tactic and combine it with their skills as long-distance shooters to take bucks that score more than 150 points on the Boone & Crockett scale every season.


Check back each day this week for more about SECRET MAN-DRIVE TACTICS FOR TROPHY BUCKS

Day 1: First Drive Secret
Day 2: Southern Rabbit Hunts for Trophy Bucks
Day 3: Tactics for Northern Drives
Day 4: Techniques for Western Drives
Day 5: One Day, Five Bucks, Five Drivers



Entry 331, Day 4