The Great Outdoors: Time is Running Out for Local Deer Hunters

deerTime is running out to get a deer.  Hopefully, you have yours at this point, but there are just four days left to tag a buck or doe in the regular rifle season.

(Photo: Kelsey Manges harvested this buck in Marienville, Forest County. Photo submitted by John Schlick.)

There will be the archery and flintlock muzzleloader seasons for a few weeks after Christmas, but the odds of putting meat in the freezer during those times are not as likely.

So what’s the best way to bagging a deer at this point?

Each hunter has a preference and each has its merits.

Stand hunting is one way to go, but deer move a lot less during daylight hours so the chances are lower.  Still hunting, walking slowly and quietly, scanning the woods for a bedded or feeding deer is another option. But its effectiveness has a great deal to do with the individual patience and skill and certain weather conditions.  What most hunters do to get a crack at a deer after the opening day is to put on drives.  For those that aren’t familiar, a drive is when hunters walk through the woods trying to spook a deer toward others who are at a specific location waiting for the deer to come to them.

Deer drives have many options on how they can be done.  Many are dictated by the number of hunters involved. Groups may include up to 25 people, and you can really put on a large scale drive with a group like that.  Typically those large-scale drives aren’t done much these days. There just aren’t that many people hunting during the regular gun season, and the logistics of putting big ones together are pretty tough.

I’ve been on drives where it was just me and one other hunter, and those have been productive, too. You just need to really have a good understanding of the area you are hunting in and a good bit of luck!

I recall one day when my good hunting buddy Bob and I were the only two out hunting.  We didn’t even begin at first light, but by the time it was 10 a.m., we were out of the woods with two nice does.  Granted, that doesn’t happen often, but the more you try, the more it will.  A little creativity doesn’t hurt, either.

If you find that some favored deer drives aren’t producing the way they used to, it might be time to do things a bit differently.  If you’ve always done a drive by walking north, reverse it and post hunters in the opposite direction of where they would normally stand.

I prefer having more people on stand waiting than moving.  One person can move a lot of deer, but if you are limited in the number of those on stand, it really cuts down on the chances of getting a deer.

When I was younger and hunting alone, I would even collect rocks and throw them into areas of thick cover. After tossing a handful or two of baseball- or golf-sized rocks, I would move quickly and quietly as possible to where I thought I could see them.  I never got a deer doing it, but there were a few close calls.

Once you’ve done some drives, you will get a better understanding of what the deer will do when spooked and that will help determine a course of action in the future.

Hunters have preferences on how to do drives. Some like to yell and make noise when they are walking through the woods to make sure the deer are spooked enough. But for me, I prefer the opposite. While some wise, old bucks are pretty crafty at eluding hunters on drives, most are going to move with a minimum of disturbance. I like to take my time, stay quiet, and try to “bump” the deer from their hiding spots. My goal is to keep the deer moving but not racing ahead (which makes it nearly impossible for the standers to get a good shot).  Hitting a deer on the move is hard enough but when they are running full-tilt, forget it.

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“The Great Outdoors,” sponsored by the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors, is a weekly blog by exploreClarion.com’s Scott Shindledecker. Plan your next outdoor adventure at VisitPAGO.com or call (814) 849-5197 for more information.


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