When hunting season gets tough, some deer hunters like to turn to deer drives to root those big bucks out of their hiding spots. It can be an extremely effective method of deer hunting, especially when gun season is winding down and you've got nothing left to lose by invading the deer's sanctuary areas.
Most deer drives call for a different weapon than your usual rifle or muzzleloader because you're usually either a pusher or stander. And you're likely on the ground and not up in a treestand. Most deer drives call for open sight, fast repeating guns so you can get shots off at running deer.
Today we'll run down some of the best guns for hunting deer via drives. These guns will help you put venison on the table at deer camp on a consistent basis each deer season.
Marlin Model 1894
You can't go wrong with a classic. The modern Marlins pack new updates and technology into the classic design first introduced by the Connecticut gunmaker all the way back in 1894. The number of deer stacked up by the Marlin 1894 may number in the millions.
These rifles feature tubular magazines with capacities ranging from eight to ten, so you won't have to worry about running out of ammo. The 1894 is available in several different calibers, but we'd recommend .357 or .44 Magnum. We know these are usually considered handgun rounds, but out of this gun, they're lethal on deer. These guns are light, short and easy to shoulder and swing in a hurry, a must when driving deer.
If you live in a state like Michigan or Iowa, which still have antiquated "shotgun zones," or if you're going to be hunting dense brush where you're not going to get a lot of long shots anyway, a slug gun is worth looking at.
I own a 12-gauge 870 myself and I've killed most of my deer with it, including one this year. They're a very safe and reliably cycling firearm that can put down a big buck in a hurry. We recommend sticking with either the 20 or 12-gauge models.
You can use a mix of buckshot and slugs with the Remington 870, and even though I personally can't recommend buckshot for deer, it is an option. It doesn't have a super-high capacity, but here in Michigan the DNR limits how many shells you can have in the gun anyway. Place your first shot well, and you don't need another with this gun. '
The only downside is the weight. This one can be a bit hefty to hold when you're standing for long period waiting for the deer to run past.
The pump-action rifle has kind of gone the way of the dodo bird in recent years. Bolt action is all the rage these days and while there are some fast bolt guns out there, a pump gun is probably going to be slightly faster in most whitetail hunting scenarios.
This Remington 7600 rifle has a classic, old-school hunting look to it. Remington offers this rifle in several popular deer hunting calibers including .270 Winchester, .30-06 and .308 Winchester. The capacity for this gun is only four rounds, so that's something to consider if you have a lot of big game tags to fill, but this rifle has reliably killed big bucks for decades and it is one that won't let you down.
Another shotgun option for the list, because those of us in the shotgun zones are neglected a little too often in gun roundups like this. The Mossberg 500 is another classic firearm design that has dropped thousands of deer since it was first introduced in 1960.
There are a ton of field and deer combos for sale with this gun. That means you get some extra value in other seasons for waterfowl, upland bird or even turkey with a secondary barrel.
You can get the 500 in either 12 or 20 gauge and it has a 5+1 capacity. Mossberg has a ton of options for either a traditional blued barrel and wood look, or you can get this gun fitted with a synthetic stock and even with a Mossy Oak camo finish.
Henry Big Boy
Another classic look hunting rifle, the Henry Big Boy comes chambered in .44 Magnum, .45 Colt, .357 Magnum, .41 Magnum and .327 Federal Magnum, giving you a plethora of options to choose from.
Depending on which model you choose from, the Henrys have shorter barrels and a shorter overall length which makes them easy to swing and make quick shots on moving targets, especially in dense, brushy areas where you might not have a lot of room to maneuver otherwise. The capacity of this gun ranges by model from seven to ten rounds.
These guns come with either a 24-inch or 18.5-inch barrel depending on your personal preference. They use an inertia-drive system to cycle. The stocks are black synthetic to help stand up to the elements. One nice feature of this gun is that the receiver is already drilled and tapped for a scope and they've included an optics rail. This gun has a 4+1 capacity and weighs in at about seven pounds.
We'd say this is a solid option for shotgun-only areas where you might have some shots at 100 yards or more. It also comes at a good price for a semi-auto. The MSRP on this gun is around $600, but it can usually be found for much less.
Winchester Model 94
Notice we put a lot of lever-actions on this list? It's because you need a fast-shooting rifle on a deer drive and the classic Model 94 is just that. You really can't go wrong with a gun that was designed by the master, John Browning.
These days, most Winchester Model 94s retain the blued steel barrels and receivers coupled with the walnut stocks and foregrips that made them so iconic in the old west movies, but they've also been better refined over the years to shoot smoother and faster than ever before. A Model 94 chambered in .30-30 will make quick work of most whitetails trying to slip through the net during one of your drives.
Benelli SuperNova Pump
Here's another pump shotgun for the list. This one is a little bit more on the high end than some of the other shotguns I've listed here. It's Benelli, what did you expect?
The SuperNova is a fast-shooting gun designed with recoil in mind, which is a major factor to consider on deer drives. The less recoil there is, the better your odds of making an accurate and ethical follow-up shot. Another nice feature is that the trigger guard on this gun is enlarged specifically for use with gloves. It's a handy characteristic, because on a drive the biggest bucks are not likely to stop and wait around for you to take them off!
Benelli offers this gun with a 24-inch rifled deer barrel for either 2-3/4 or 3-inch slugs. That means you can reach across a food plot or cornfield with some quality sabots if you really need to.