Advice courtesy of Montana’s Eloit Strommen, who is the best I have ever seen at pushing/nudging whitetails:
“First off, we never walk from one end of a cover to the next like most guys do, spooking deer and watching them run all over the place,” Eliot says. “We don’t drive the deer. Two or three of us just walk the timber and try to nudge deer from one small cover to the next cover or the next.”
Put two or three shooters—bow or gun–in a strip or block of timber a half-mile or even farther from where the pushers will start. Make sure the shooters watch a trail or funnel in the cover. If the pushers nudge deer that way, they will pick up a trail or funnel and walk or trot past within shooting range.
If your group is gun hunting, make sure everybody wears orange and aims and shoots safely. Safety first!
The better you know your woods and the habits of the local deer, the better this technique will work. Strommen has lived and hunted along the Milk River all his life. He’s spent countless hours glassing whitetails in the wheat and alfalfa fields. He’s watched deer weave into and out of the cottonwoods and brush, and cross the gray river a million times. He’s learned their patterns.
“If we move a group of does with a buck or two, we know where they’ll go,” Eliot says. “If they don’t stop in the next cover, I know the third or fourth one they’ll go to. We set our shooters up there.”
A couple more tricks. Always work a farm or woodland from the outside in. You don’t want to drive a monster buck off your property at the end of the season and into the sights of other hunters on nearby properties. Push the outer thickets first, and move toward the center of your hunting area where your shooters are posted.
Have the drivers walk nonchalantly through a thicket or patch of brushy timber where deer bed. Walk out in the open and hope deer see you, smell you and hop up. Of course the shooters should set up downwind or cross-wind of where they expect to see a buck coming.
The minute the pushers jump a good buck, slow down, way down. Once a big deer gets up, he’ll move to a secondary cover, but if he’s not too rattled, it might take him 20 minutes or longer to get there. Don’t push him. Wait for him to walk past one of your shooters for a good shot.