By Mike Wolanski
One of the advantages hunters have in areas frequented by vehicles and farming equipment is that deer are often completely unafraid of machinery. They are used to seeing and hearing equipment go by, so watching a truck, tractor or ATV ramble past is an acceptable part of their daily lives.
As you have probably experienced, any deer that spots a human apart from machinery - especially during hunting season - won't stick around long enough for a shot. But if a hunter can arrange to get a ride close to his or her hunting destination and be dropped off, this puts the edge strongly back in the hunter's favor.
This drop off tactic also works well on species other than whitetails, such as pronghorn antelope and bison. In many areas in the West, farming ATVs cruise by the animals most of the year, and to the point they don't even look up while grazing. When the rifle season arrives, hunters can slip out of the ATV without being noticed and make a short stalk for a clean shot.
In Canada, where bear baiting is a standard practice, guides will often drive their hunters directly to a treestand overlooking the bait site without the hunter's feet even touching the ground. This eliminates a scent trail on the ground and gives the hunter just one more advantage.
In Robert Ruark's safari classic, "Horn of the Hunter," he describes several instances of getting close to wary African game by stepping out of a slow-moving Land Rover. The animals would watch the vehicle slow down, and then continue to keep their eyes on it as it drove past. After Ruark slipped out, he would hunker down and crawl to a vantage point, then make the shot before the game realized what was going on.
You might have heard of tactics similar to this used by farmers who spot a coyote across a field. One guy slips out of the truck and shoots the 'yote before it realizes what has happened.
If you try the drop off tactic, please remember to be careful and wait until the vehicle has come to a full stop before stepping out. And make sure not to chamber a round until it is safe to do so.
If this tactic works on coyotes, bears and sharp-eyed pronghorn antelope, it'll work on a smart, old white-tailed buck.