Silent Drives

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There are times when the deer are simply not moving and you're forced to make something happen. Maybe you're up against a full moon or hot weather. This is when a silent drive to force deer to move should be considered.

By silent drive, you're not yelling and making a commotion to scare the deer. When deer are panicked, they're liable to bust out of the cover on a dead run, and any shot you get will be tough to make.

A silent drive is different. It means playing the wind to carry the driver's scent into a bedding area. That makes the deer concerned enough to sneak away from danger but not panicked enough to run.

When you're setting up a silent drive, it's important to know the lay of the land and how deer move from one patch of cover to the next. An aerial photo is very useful for finding bottlenecks that deer travel as escape corridors, but there's no substitute for having an intimate knowledge of the place you're hunting and for having watched deer move through there in the past.

On a silent drive, I try to think like a deer and determine how the deer will react to a threat.

Safety is the primary concern on any deer drive. The hunters should wear hunter orange, even if the law doesn't require it.


hunter25's picture

We hunt this ws all the time

We hunt this ws all the time as a family. One of us will slowly sneak hunt down a canyon whil the rest are set up on vantage points watching for deer or elk as they try to slip ahead or up the sides. This can also be effective if you see other hunters heading into an area if you know the lay of the land and can set up ahead of them.

We have even used it with a twist on antelope when we see one we can't get close to. We will leave one of us hiding along a fence line and then just walk past the antelope far to the side and cut back. If it's watching it will start to go the other way right down the fence line to where the hunter is laying in ambush.

groovy mike's picture

good idea, and yes safety is #1

This is pretty much the only way that I drive white tail deer.  If we intend to drive deer at all, the hunters on the ambush end of the drive get in position overlooking one of the trails that the deer use to move from one area to another and then any of us who intend to drive just basically still hunt the opposite edge of the property.  We know that we are clumsy enough to not move silently even when we are trying to, so a quiet walk – even one that involves stopping and listening for five or ten minutes before moving on is generally enough to get deer moving.  And as you noted, the wind plays a roll as well as the sight and sound of hunters moving through the woods.  As a bonus to the drivers – if they move quietly enough they just might succeed in stalking up to within shooting distance of a bedded or browsing white tail.  More than likely, the deer sees, hears and smells them long before the hunter is aware that the deer is there.  But every once in awhile if the hunter is quiet the deer is slow to get moving and presents a shot.  It is more likely that they move off ahead of the drivers.  In that case they just might be intercepted by the ambushing hunters on watch, but there is also a possibility that the deer will attempt to skirt the driver and work their way back around and behind them.  This is the chance that a quiet second person driving waits for.  While always being aware of where your other members of the hunting party are or are likely to be a second hunter will often catch a deer just a few hundred yards away from another driver.  If you can get a clear view of these sneaky deer (positively identifying your target) and know that your hunting partners will not be in danger from your bullet’s path beyond your target you can often bag one of these slow moving deer. 


It is always a good idea to wear blaze orange, but especially when on a deer drive.  Even when I am hunting alone I wear a camouflage blaze vest and hat.  Blaze orange is not required in New York, but it just makes sense to wear it.  There have been times when I think that I am hunting alone and on posted property besides, that I encounter other hunters.  I don’t want to take any chance of them mistaking me for a deer, so I do everything that I can mitigate that risk – primarily by wearing a lot of highly visible orange.  I’ve had both mule deer and white tail deer within ten yards of me while I’m standing on the ground in the open wearing the blaze camouflage.  They simply can’t see it.  My next Cabela’s purchase is going to be a matching set of the blaze camouflage jackets for my son and I to wear next season when he starts deer hunting.  That should make it abundantly obvious not only to other hunters who might be in the area but also to each other in case we are driving or otherwise separated while hunting that we are humans and not be shot at.


Thanks for the tips!


gatorfan's picture

Good tip

I too have used this method with varied success.  My hunting partner and I used this method several years ago after a couple of consecutive days of not seeing anything in a normally productive area.  I set up (archery hunting) in what we considered the most likely escape route and he slowly walked into the bedding area with the wind at his back.  He wasn't more than a few steps in and all of a sudden several deer busted out and ran straight towards me.  Unfortunately for the biggest doe in the group, she made the fatal mistake of stopping broadside at twenty yards in front of me in order to look back at my buddy!  125 grains of Thunderhead completely ruined her day but I sure was grateful!

Critter done's picture

Awesome tip

We have used it many times and been successful. I don't scare the deer to next county either.

numbnutz's picture

thanks for the tip. i have

thanks for the tip. i have done this several times in the past with my dad and brother. in the thick woods of western oregon it works very well and we have had great sucess using this method, thanks for sharing.

ManOfTheFall's picture

Good tip. Thanks for the

Good tip. Thanks for the infromation.