As the season chugs along into December, hunting pressure drives deer deep into heavy cover. While not impossible by any means, traditional still-hunting becomes challenging. Hunters must figure out where deer are bedded during the day and develop clever strategies to intercept them when they travel, and the increasingly nocturnal nature of late-season deer often short-circuits this approach.

Luckily, other methods exist to get these deer within range of the late season hunter.

Before Europeans arrived within the New World in the 16th century, Native Americans practiced traditional deer driving, and it is still a valid hunting method to flush big bucks out of hiding on private and public lands. Man drives can be very effective methods on late-season hunts.

After early morning feeding, deer will bed up for the day in heavy cover near available food sources. Hunters can drive deer out of hiding and towards hunters covering established trails. . If conducted effectively and strategically, hunters can have success using controlled drives.

To begin, hunters should examine aerial photos and topo maps to evaluate where the best areas are to conduct man drives, and scouting is crucial. Hunters need to know where the deer are hiding and where the escape trails are located or anticipated.

While deer will typically head into the wind to evade a predator, they will travel downwind in an instant when flushed them out of hiding. Hunters should be set up along main trails leading to and from the bedding area and downwind of them. Some of the best man-drive places will have a lightly-wooded corridor leading to a thicket on one end and a swamp or large wilderness area on the other. Examine maps and aerial photos well and develop a strategy.

Hunting should always begin with safety, especially on public game lands. Man drives should be restricted to a small scale on public land, choosing small thickets or wooded peninsulas. On the day of the drive, hunters should all wear blaze orange clothing and comb the main parking areas and roads for signs of other hunters in the area. If vehicles are present or other hunters in the area, man drives should not be undertaken. Additionally, hunters need to be extra careful when serving as a hunter or driver. Other people could be in the woods, and safety should always be first. Using shotguns and hunting from elevated positions will help ensure a safe hunt.

Deer driving is an ideal way to direct a big buck out of hiding late in the season, but always identify the shooting and prohibited zones to keep everybody safe.