A few years back, a small group of local hunters decided to put an end-of-season drive on a particular buck's favorite haunts, a radically thick patch of plantation pines, Multiflora rose, and almost impenetrable Buckthorn.
That vegetative tangle of nastiness is just too difficult to crawl through, unless you are a rabbit.
Deer hunters traditionally had set themselves up on the edges of the tangle, expecting to fill a tag with deer coming out or entering on the beaten down trails.
But this time, a deer drive was concocted, aimed at running out that old buck if he was in there.
And he was.
The drive worked. Well, sort of.
The big buck exited in a flash, stunning one of the drivers by almost running him over. The bruiser turned on a dime and dove back into the thick stuff before a gun could be raised.
The drivers knew the buck was there … but try as they might, could not get him to leave his sanctuary.
This buck made it through the season and popped up on a trail cam at a mock licking branch scrape in January.
That buck is one example that it can be difficult, if not impossible to push some bucks out of their favorite spots.
An old hunting buddy revealed how they were able to track down another big buck and surround it in a recently timbered woodlot.
Tracks in the snow showed the buck went into the tangle of recently timbered treetops, but didn't come out. And like a military exercise, drivers were sent in after others were posted on the corners, waiting for the buck to bolt out.
Where did the buck go?
A tracking snow was this wide-racked buck's downfall.
The hunters traced the animal to a large downed top, left by the loggers.
The buck had laid there, head down, letting the hunters walk within feet of him. Only when the landowner's son climbed up on the end log of the felled treetop did the buck finally bolt. One of the watchers on the corner of the woodlot was lucky enough, and a good enough shot to be able to tag it.
The takeaway is that sometimes bucks, and does too, will let us walk right by them, actually laying there with their heads down. As long as they don’t think they are seen.
Many deer drives are those hunts when two or more hunters plan and act out a strategy to move deer in order for someone in the party to get a shot. Some take a post, or stand, and then others walk to move the deer.
But other deer drives are those hunts when there is really no strategy between the two parties (the drivers and the shooters), the hunters move through the woods, simultaneously.
We all know that it’s beneficial to have other hunters in the woods, moving deer, most of the time.
The typical deer hunting scenario is that a deer hunter gets set up in a stand early, hoping other hunters moving into the woods will kick out some whitetails and they move by the stander.
Back in the old days, when I started deer hunting (ahem… a long time ago), it seemed much more common to drive deer than it is today.
Back then, though it is probably hard for youngsters to imagine, the portable tree stand had not been developed and marketed to any degree, let alone those elevated plastic cabins and food plots.
Hunters moved deer back then. And 50 years ago whitetails begrudgingly obliged, to our delight and their demise.
But today, in many quarters, hunters even with small properties rarely allow anyone but their chosen few to set foot on their lands, unless to retrieve a deer.
They worry that other hunters will shoot "their deer," and that they will lose control of the property and be overrun … when in fact if everyone moved around like we used to, I believe we would all have a lot more shooting.
Nowadays, it seems once we get into the meat of the deer season, we face much too often the very common "whitetail stalemate."
We sit in our stands and the deer bed.
And we hope and hope ... ”Maybe the neighbors are going to put on a deer drive and stir something up, get them movin.”
Oak Duke writes a weekly column appearing on the Outdoors page.