I grew up hunting whitetail deer in central Pennsylvania at the age of twelve. I went on my first deer drive that very same year. Having experienced that at a very young age and looking back on drive hunting for whitetail deer I have a few experiences and opinions I’d like to share.
We would usually only drive the last Saturday of rifle season and on some occasions during doe season. The drive would consist of drivers (people who walked) and standers (people who stood). Usually we would drive one side of a valley with multiple drives and then the other side of the valley with multiple drives.
We would have to maintain a roster of all personnel that were involved in the drive. There could be no more than 25 people on the roster. This was back in 1975, not sure what the rules or regulations are now.
We would take the standers to the point at which we would want to end the drive and take the drivers to the point we would want to start the drive. If at all possible we would take advantage of mountain roads at the top or bottom of the mountain which would enable us to drop off members of the drive. We would drop the standers off first to get settled in and ready in case the drivers spooked deer while they were getting into position.
Next we would drop off the drivers. Depending how many we had, we would space them out evenly from the top to the bottom of the mountain with the very top and bottom person being the flankers. They were positioned about 50 yards ahead of the drivers. The intent was to guide the deer that tried to run over the top or out the bottom back into the drive and toward the standers.
Our drive lengths were between 750 and 1000 yards depending on what section of mountain we were driving. Back in those days we really didn't take wind direction into consideration. Probably one of the reasons we weren't really that successful.
Once in place the drive captain would blow a whistle to start the drive and blow the whistle to end the drive. How we made it without cell phones I’ll never know. The rules of engagement when taking a shot at a deer were the drivers only took a shot at a deer that ran past them out of the drive and standers could only shoot at a deer that had ran past them out of the drive.
If a deer was shot during the drive the person would mark the spot and continue the drive until the end. After the whistle blew to end the drive everyone would help locate, tag, and remove the deer prior to the next drive.
Over the 9 years I hunted in Pennsylvania I was only successful in shooting two does while drive hunting. I can only remember one buck being shot and that was when we were getting in position to start the drive.
Deer drives aren't for everyone and I personally wouldn't recommend them for those of you who haven't tried it before. Safety concerns and what I consider unethical hunting has steered me away from this type of hunting. Whatever you decide, remember to be safe, shoot straight and enjoy the outdoors.