Baiting, and it’s possible ramifications.

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Published: November 5, 2007 | By Arthur

Posted in: Opinion

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dnrbait.JPGWhen I talk about baiting all of you hunters know what I’m referring to. For those of you who don’t, baiting would mean using the distribution of some sort of food attractant (corn, apples, carrots, etc.) to bring deer to a certain location in order to be able to have a clean shot and ultimately kill the animal.

I know baiting is a controversial subject and also a subject that gets plenty of time on numerous hunting forums and other hunting related websites. I just basically wanted to touch on the already widely debated issues of baiting and also get into another area that maybe hasn’t been hit upon yet.

First, I have to say that I don’t have a problem with baiting at all. I can’t honestly look at anyone and tell them that I’ve never hunted over some sort of bait pile before. I have and I will admit to it. In recent years though I haven’t used baiting as a means for bringing animals into my setup. It is just a personal choice for me. I would rather outsmart a deer by figuring out it’s route to and from food sources and bedding areas, sitting up on that area, and outsmarting them at their own game. Now I have hunted a couple setups this year that did have bait at them, but not bait that I put there. My brother is a baiting fool and the bait was already there before my arrival. I have to be honest though and say that it didn’t keep me from hunting there, but I would not have put in the effort to bait that location. Again, my personal choice.

There were a few reasons, while talking to a friend, that baiting was brought up as a topic. One was that it was a hot topic on a local outdoor forum that we frequent. This in turn got his mind wandering to a different area of the baiting controversy that hadn’t been really touched upon yet. How does the non-hunter view baiting?  I’m not talking about an anti-hunter.  I am speaking of the person who supports hunting, but does not participate in the sport.

With the amount of discrepancy between hunters about the ramifications of baiting, how does one that doesn’t hunt perceive baiting? I would think not positively. Most would deem at as an unfair advantage and point to the fact that it is taking “the fairness” out of the chase. They would point to the simple fact of using a necessity that all animals have-to fill their bellies, to legally kill game. Do I agree with that viewpoint? To a degree I do. Do I think that baiting should be banned? Heck no. I think baiting increases your chances for scoring, but by no means is a guarantee for a kill. Trust me on this one. I can say that from first hand experience. I have never shot a deer over a bait pile before. It hasn’t happened yet.

I know what is coming next. “I haven’t shot a deer over a bait pile before?” you say. What about a corn field or a bean field? This brings up the next baiting argument. To that argument I say this. Agricultural fields such as corn fields and bean fields can be acres in size and are not in such a concentrated area like a bait pile is. The two can’t be compared as the same thing. They are much different, with a lot more odds against you, if you’re hunting an open bean field then if you’re sitting in a woodlot over a bucket full of sugar beets. See what I mean?

So I think baiting definitely has a place in the hunting world, but not one that I normally choose to participate in. So my question to all of you is this. What do you think of baiting and do you think it is ammunition for the anti’s, and more specifically, do you think the general population that supports hunting views it in a negative light? Let the comments and the discussion begin. I can’t wait to see all the different viewpoints.

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11 Comments

  • I’ve got kind of a “to each his own” point of view on this, but baiting probably doesn’t make hunter look very good to the general public.

    I should also note that baiting, or feeding deer at all during hunting season, is illegal here in Virginia. A guy I know recently found out the hard way that that law is strictly enforced.

  • Matt,

    We can bait here in Michigan but it is limited to a certain amount spread over a certain area and also has a time restriction on it so people can’t continue baiting through the spring and summer.

    Some counties do have bans on baiting due to TB!

  • As someone who doesn’t hunt, yet, but supports hunting, I guess I come at this issue from two viewpoints. One is the image thing, which Matt touched on. Baiting generally doesn’t make hunters look all that good. So, from that standpoint, I’m not really for it.

    On the other side of the coin, is the fact that hunting over a bait pile might only guarantee that a deer comes there, not that you’ll make the shot. It isn’t as though using bait cements a deer in place. It just increases the chances you’ll see a deer in that particular place.

    I guess, ultimately, I’m a “too each his or her own” type of person. I probably wouldn’t hunt over bait, but that’s me. If other hunters want to do so, that’s up to them.

  • If a person wants to hunt over bait than that is their decision. I personally would not and I can honestly say that in the past 17 years that I have been hunting I never have hunted over bait and I am proud to say that.

    Like Matt had said “to each his own” I will go along with that.

    I know here in Connecticut it is illegal to hunt deer over bait. I don’t need to cheat and feed them to get them to come in. I just do my homework and figure when and where they will be and then the rest is up to just plain luck.

  • For the record I’m not a “baiting fool” but there is one stand that i do keep bait at to keep the does around this time of year(for jenn)! I see no problem with baiting..to me It’s no different than using a dog to find a bird or rabbit or using bait to bring in a bear! It’s all part of the game of hunting! IMO I think that you are for hunting or not for hunting..People will go on and on about what is fair..treestands,bait,food plots,compound bows,doe pee..ect…My thing is this..If you know someone thats against hunting or on the fence..try to explain why we do what we do…If they ever ban baiting I’m fine with that but I don’t think it makes use look bad.

  • Arthur,

    Great topic…however I need some time to get a full response ready for this one. Will be back with it very soon, and I am glad to see a civil discussion about this!

  • In the past few months I have learned that baiting can refer to far more than a feeder which drops corn neatly in a pile. Some states and provinces consider scents as bait. Considering that broader definition, I have to say I support baiting.

    Personally, I would have no second thoughts about planting food plots or using scent lures. However, I would not be satisfied with shooting a deer or bear over a feeder. I would shoot wild boar over bait for the purpose of eliminating the destructive beasts.

  • I am proud to say that I have never used bait to harvest a deer. I am proud to say that I have learned to scout and pattern deer. I am grateful that my father thought it was important to take me still hunting with him when I was barely old enough to go to school. There are years when I don’t harvest a deer. I am thankful when I do and know it’s a mixture of pure luck and time earned knowledge. Take the ability to bait away from most hunters that do and they’d be lost. Their idea of a movement pattern is deer moving to their pile.

    We all know the health risks baiting raises in deer herds. The Michigan deers hunters complaining about not being able to bait in the TB zones are the reason the TB zone exists. The deer hunters who say baiting increases the chance of a clean kill need to spend more time at the range if they’re concerned about a clean kill, or simply wait for a clean shot. Better yet, do the leg work and put yourself in a position to get a clean kill by outsmarting that big buck. Explain to me how harvesting an animal over a pile of sugar beets is fair chase.

    The difference between baiting deer and hunting birds with a dog is, it took hours and hours of training and preparation to mold that dog into a skillful hunter. It takes 3 minutes to dump a bag of apples in the woods before the “hunt”.

    If you agree with me, write your state legislators and ask them to take steps to make baiting deer in Michigan illegal.

  • Nate,

    I totally respect your opinion and I don’t normally participate in baiting myself but I would never go out and try to get it banned. To me that just would bring up a whole other set of issues that would possibly be used against us.

    I think that baiting is totally a “to each is own” decision period.

  • i think baiting should be legal because i live minnesota and i only hunt on 80 acre and if i didnt bait the deer wouldnt be arond much because there plenty of other places for them to get food

  • Baiting deer, or any animal for that matter is such a wide topic. I live in Oregon, on the coast range… teh deer we have here are almost impossible to pattern, they live in thick thick brush and don’t frequent the same feed areas on a regular basis at all. However, I set up a feed station or two on my property, I don’t hunt over them and really no point as I’ve yet to see (including game-camera) a buck actually feeding there, mostly does, racoons and jays for 3 years now Ive done this… I do it very sparingly. I never put out much feed and I limit the ease of them getting to it… I have only seen one doe “regularly” in 5 years time (we call her Lucy), but she was “regular” long before the supplements. In fact she is the reason we choose to go the suppliment route… both her fawns died from hair loss disease a few years ago during an extended cold spell… since then, we feed high fat and high protien supplements in the late winter (when its coldest), spring (while they are pregnant), summer (fawning) and early fall(pre-pre-rut). During the late fall / early winter here, it rains and there is plenty of food availible to them… though I leave out the mineral licks (mostly because not one has ever been touched by a deer in 7 years here, and I’ve set out/tried over 15 types/flavors/kinds/brands.

    Baiting, here in Oregon… go for it! Blacktails are far harder to hunt than any other deer I’ve hunted… so, if it’s bait you need to see one, use it! It won’t garentee they use it, or even that you’ll see one… they know when your in their house, whether eating or not.

    Now, the basics of “hunting over bait”… Well, in my opinion deer are, have always been and will always be, grazing animals, they have and use their senses, ALL of them. So if you hunt them in nature, you are baiting them somehow. If you use other hunters/people to push deer out of a draw in order to ambush the fleeing deer, you are using one of its senses to direct the animal, you are “baiting” them… if you are hunting a deer near a source of liquid (water) you are baiting it, if you are in the woods still hunting and you are waiting for that animal to do what it does and walk by (munching all the way) to and from a location, you are baiting it by using its desire to follow that route. I think you get my thought process and what I am trying to say.

    It’s not really any different (to me) than looking for a girlfriend in the produce isle, or for a fling at the local bar… its just targetting/using a behavior to pattern an animal.

    :)

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