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Should hunting over bait be illegal in your area?

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Should hunting over bait be illegal in your area?

Old 12-25-2005, 11:21 AM
  #11  
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Default RE: Should hunting over bait be illegal in your area?

I definetely vote no....I think shooting deer over bait is an acceptable practice, I simply don't believe it should be allowed during"hunting season". Create a seperate late season..."bait season". That way those who choose toharvest deer in that manner can do it without affecting regular hunters.


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By Charles J. Alsheimer
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What is better for hunting and deer management, bait or food plots?
Photo by Charles Alsheimer

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I was born and raised on a farm in the fertile farm belt of western New York. One of my earliest recollections of the whitetail had to do with observing them feeding in a winter wheat cover crop my dad had planted. In many ways you could say that field was not too much different than some of today’s food plots. The connection between hunting whitetails near the foods they prefer has always been a strategy I’ve used in my New York hunts. Because New York has never allowed baiting deer for hunting purposes, my hunting strategies have revolved around hunting mast, man-made food sources, funnels, ridge lines and scrape lines.
As a young hunter I never gave baiting an ounce of attention. We couldn’t do it, and I knew no one who could. So I had no clue what baiting was all about. This all changed in 1989.
In December 1989 I traveled to Texas to photograph and hunt whitetails. On my trip from the San Antonio airport to the south Texas brush country, I drove through several small towns. In each location I observed signs in front of convenience stores and gas stations that read, “Get your deer corn here.” At first I didn’t get it. Then, after going through the second town a light went off in my head, and I figured it out. Not only were groceries and gas being sold at these locations, but also bait for the deer hunters.
On the first morning of photographing on an incredible ranch, I received my christening into what baiting deer is all about. While positioned in a photo blind, the ranch owner “corned” three sendaros around the blind. When the rancher’s pick-up finally left the scene, deer poured out of the thick brush from every direction. For the next three hours I burned film while deer came and went as they fed within mere feet of each other. In all my years of pursuing whitetails I’d never seen anything quite like it. I’ve got to admit, by the time my two-week photo shoot was over, the baiting process looked pretty intriguing to me. It certainly made the photography far more productive than trying to spot and stalk a deer in the brush.
Can of Worms
Mention baiting to America’s deer hunters and you’ll get a myriad of responses. In some locales you’ll hear nothing but disdain. In others, much praise. In locations where baiting deer is legal, the business community defends it because of the revenue baiting products add to their bottom line.
Certainly for most the term baiting conjures up thoughts of piles of apples, beets or corn placed where a deer can be easily ambushed. This is the image that riles so many sportsmen. However, there are also those who view it just as unethical to hunt whitetails over a food plot of clover, alfalfa, wheat or corn. The latter group is of the belief that there are no differences between the two. At first glance perhaps there is no difference, but with careful analysis it is clear there are many reasons why food plots not only shine brighter in a hunting setting but are also naturally, nutritionally and physically more beneficial to deer than baiting.
Baiting
There is no question about it, baiting is a science – at least for those who do it successfully. Where legal, bait sites offering preferred food in locations that provide whitetails cover and the hunter accessibility without being detected can bring the hunter big dividends. A prime example of this is the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan and its neighbor to the west, Alberta, grow some of the biggest whitetails on Earth. However, Saskatchewan’s northern forest setting produces many more huge racked whitetails than Alberta. Why? There are certainly just as many big bucks present, but you cannot bait in Alberta. You can bait in Saskatchewan. Many of the Saskatchewan outfitters have baiting down to a science and are able to maximize their efforts. As one of the better Saskatchewan outfitters told me, “If we couldn’t bait here we’d only kill a small fraction of the big bucks we do. This is remote big bush country and baiting is the only way to get a big buck in front of a hunter.”
Of course, there are many other locations in North America that are similar to Saskatchewan. Arguably, the needed harvest could not be achieved in some areas without the aid of baiting. But aside from attaining the needed harvest are there any other pluses to baiting? One might be the fact that the hunter, on average, will see more deer at a bait set-up than if he’s walking around in the woods.
However, because bait sites are generally unnatural and short term, a host of problems begin rearing their ugly heads. Whenever deer are confined to close quarters disease and stress are more likely. Equally detrimental is the effect unnaturally concentrated deer have on the surrounding natural habitat. Another thing that is often overlooked with baiting in a hunting situation is that the baiting usually ends when the season ends on the eve of winter. Basically, after 60-plus days of being programmed to come to the welfare food truck, deer have the rug pulled out from under them, just when they need the site’s feed to pull them through the winter.
Fix the Forest
There’s no arguing about the damage deer do to an ecosystem, especially when there is an artificially inflated deer population brought on by a bait site. Whitetails need between 8 to12 pounds of food a day to survive – up to half or more should come from natural sources like leaves, browse and forbs. When deer are confined to a small area the surrounding habitat can be severely impacted, in some cases for generations to come.
In most cases, when deer populations exceed 35-40 deer per square mile, preferred browse species disappear. I know from experience that such numbers (and more) will almost always be present around a bait site. Let me explain.
After my trip to Texas in 1989, I decided to purchase a solar operated 500-pound feeder to supplementally feed the deer on our farm. I also intended to use it for photography. New York’s game laws at the time allowed for feeding during non-hunting months (artificially feeding is now banned). In May 1991, I placed the feeder in a location on our farm that offered the deer security, while at the same time providing a great photo set-up. Within a week, the deer began coming to the feeder, which was programmed to go off a half hour after dawn and an hour and a half before sunset. It proved to be the ultimate “welfare truck” and photo location.
Regularly I had as many as 15-plus deer milling around just before the feeder was to go off. I once counted as many as 20 deer feeding on the 2 1/2 pounds of corn the feeder dispensed each time it went off. The set-up offered some incredible photo opportunities, but it didn’t take me long to realize that I was creating three huge problems.
The first thing I noticed was the stress the feeding station placed on the deer using it. They’d fight over the food, and in some cases, the episodes were quite ugly. Also, because they’d vent their waste at the site, they’d be eating the corn off an open sewer, setting the stage for the spread of disease. Furthermore, habitat surrounding the bait site soon showed signs of severe over-browsing. Any plant deer could browse within 100 yards of the feeder was literally chewed off. Frankly, I was creating a moonscape.
It didn’t take me long to come to my senses. After one summer of artificially feeding our farm’s deer, I retired the $500 feeder and shifted my attention to something far more beneficial for the deer and natural habitat – food plots.
Raising the Bar with Food Plots
I guess I’ve heard all the griping and sniping from people who claim that food plots are nothing more than big bait piles. As someone who was raised on a farm, where cover crops were regularly planted, I view such criticisms as nothing more than hollow rhetoric. After even the most casual analysis, it’s difficult to see how 20-foot by 20-foot bait sites and food plots of an acre or more can be referred to in the same context. Doing so forces you to bring most agricultural crops into the same discussion.
It is man’s responsibility to make sure that we take care of what God has entrusted to us. In order to protect the environment, every aspect of our ecosystem must be addressed, not just the whitetail and man’s self-interest.
In order to meet a capacity herd’s daily food requirement, huge amounts of food, both natural and man-made can be utilized. Some argue that agricultural crops are the way to supplement the whitetail’s natural food requirement. It can’t be done. Here’s why. By way of example, agricultural sources in the north are only available to whitetails from May through October – just half of the year.
The answer to feeding all of our wildlife is through food plots. Not only do food plots provide whitetails a sustaining, near-year-round food source, they also keep native forages – vital to many forms of wildlife – from being irreversibly damaged during years of severe drought or severe winters. Quality food plots raise the bar to the point that all of nature benefits.
Benefits of Food Plots
Nearly everything in the hunting industry is designed for the hunter, i.e., guns, ammo, bows, arrows, camouflage, deer calls, lures, etc. Certainly these things don’t benefit the animal. At the end of the day nothing in the hunting industry benefits the deer other than food plots. Food plot products don’t take from the resource, they give back.
Nutrition: When it comes to nutrition, very few farm crops can provide the quality of nutrition that food plot forages can. For example corn provides 6-8 percent protein and, at best, is only available for one or two months each year. Imperial Whitetail Clover, Alfa-Rack Plus and Extreme can easily provide 30-plus percent protein for nine months in the north and the whole year in the south. So, Imperial Clover trumps corn at every turn.
Longevity:When it comes to longevity there are few farm crops that can rival the forages available to food plot practitioners. With proper maintenance, a food plot planted with Imperial Whitetail Clover can last five years or more. I have one Imperial Clover plot that is seven years old. Not only is the plot providing my deer with tons of great nutrition, but I’ve saved a lot of money by not having to till and plant every year.
Health to Habitat:Though often overlooked, food plots definitely provide far less stress to the surrounding natural habitat than bait sites. When multiple food plot locations are offered on a property, heavy browsing of the immediate area surrounding food plots can be lessened greatly. The impact of the natural habitat will always be in direct proportion to the number of deer in an area.
Health:Anytime deer are congregated into a tight area – as with bait sites – there is the increased possibility of diseases being spread through waste and nose-to-nose contact. Food plots eliminate this from happening because close contact is not present.
Stress: Deer stress each other far more than hunters and land managers realize. They cannot tolerate an over-population of their own kind. When deer congregate around bait sites, all kinds of ugly social interaction occurs. Food plots allow for the population to be more spread out thereby reducing stress.
Education:An educated deer hunter is the best hunter. Learning of the relationship between soil, fertilizer, seed, natural habitat, deer-carrying capacities, buck-to-doe ratios and age structure is an investment in the future of hunting. When youth are introduced to all that food plots bring to the deer management equation, all of hunting wins and in a big way.
Public Perception:If you want to get the non-hunting public fired up, just mention hunting over bait. Most go into orbit. Food plots, on the other hand, strike a more pleasing chord with the majority of non-hunters. In areas where disease is prevalent among whitetails, residents of the area understand that food plots are far more beneficial to deer than baiting and artificial feeding.
With each passing year more and more people (both hunters and non-hunters) are becoming educated on what the whitetail and the environment need to survive and reach optimal health. In many ways, the process has been slower than expected. However, through better education, the whitetail’s future looks bright because of sportsmen’s demand for better deer management. Deer management is made up of many parts with nutrition playing a huge role. What food plots bring to the equation is not only significant but also essential for healthy deer herd.


Mineral Supplements and the Great Baiting Debate
By Chris Eubanks, Whitetail Institute Director of Communications
Most hunters and wildlife managers usually associate “baiting” with the placing of corn in piles or in feeders (troughs or dispensers).
As mentioned in the adjacent article, many states and provinces prohibit the practice of baiting deer, and understandably so. If done so without sufficient knowledge, improper baiting can have apparent negative effects on the herd and the environment. Understanding the digestible limits and behavior of deer, especially in relation to corn feeding, can help prevent the negative impacts of baiting. Many hunters, however, do not take the time to educate themselves on how improper baiting can severely affect the herd and habitat, and states felt responsible to ban the practice.
In the process of restricting baiting, states were forced to define mineral supplements as “bait.” The argument against the use of bait focuses on attracting unnaturally high numbers of deer to one area, thereby damaging the habitat and potentially spreading disease. Knowledgeable deer managers and many biologists know the crucial importance mineral supplements play in producing optimal health in deer herds, and they also know that mineral supplement sites are far different than corn-feeding sites.
First, deer do not become dependent on mineral supplements to fill their bellies, and therefore, do not congregate and linger in an area such as done around corn-feeding stations. Deer only consume small amounts of mineral supplement, such as Cutting Edge or 30-06, in any given day. Typically, a deer will spend a few minutes per day at a mineral lick as compared to hours around at a corn-feeding station. While the mineral supplement is attractive to deer, the limited use and constant availability results in sporadic use throughout the day by small groups or individual deer and eliminates the congregation of many deer at one time – such as what happens 10 minutes before a feeder goes off during the middle of the winter when little forage is available. Since deer do not typically congregate at mineral licks in large numbers, the negative effects of high deer density – surrounding habitat destruction, the spread of disease and increased social stress – is minimal.
Secondly, quality mineral supplements can be compared to a vitamin pill for deer. The consumption of quality mineral supplements only helps to improve individual animal and total herd health. Mineral licks actually tend to counter the most prominent negative effects produced by feeding stations – declined health and disease susceptibility.
Lastly, the primary use of mineral supplements is to improve herd quality, not to attract deer. Hunters often hunt over mineral licks, but most do not. As recommended by the Whitetail Institute, deer managers can create mineral licks all over their property, which further distributes the deer and virtually eliminates all the negative effects associated with baiting, while at the same time achieving the goal of offering mineral supplements and growing trophy bucks and big, healthy does.

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Old 12-25-2005, 11:38 AM
  #12  
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Default RE: Should hunting over bait be illegal in your area?

Cop, I have never hunted over bait! I have hunted over a 20 acre poltplanted in Field Peasfor 3yrs in Madison, FL, but that's it! I believe in, tracking, looking for rubs, finding funnels, stalking andhunting the deer. I have tree stands, but I like what I mentioned more!
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Old 12-25-2005, 11:57 AM
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Default RE: Should hunting over bait be illegal in your area?

heck yes it should be illegal, it already is here in VA. food plots are not included. but thats not hunting if you are gonna bait them in, thats just like hunting a high fence, its cheating, and if you do it, you obviously dont have confidence in your hunting skills.
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Old 12-25-2005, 07:52 PM
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Default RE: Should hunting over bait be illegal in your area?

ORIGINAL: bassfisherman711

heck yes it should be illegal, it already is here in VA. food plots are not included. but thats not hunting if you are gonna bait them in, thats just like hunting a high fence, its cheating, and if you do it, you obviously dont have confidence in your hunting skills.
If baiting should be illegal, why should hunting over food plotsor cutcorn/grain fields be any different? Idon't seethe difference in me planting 20 acres of food plots and hunting it is different from me dumping out 100 pounds of corn.Someone please explain this.
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Old 12-25-2005, 08:37 PM
  #15  
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Default RE: Should hunting over bait be illegal in your area?

i agree with you Rebel! the land you hunt in Madison, is it a lease or are you invited?
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Old 12-25-2005, 08:50 PM
  #16  
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Default RE: Should hunting over bait be illegal in your area?

ORIGINAL: CamoCop

i agree with you Rebel! the land you hunt in Madison, is it a lease or are you invited?

I was in a hunting club in Madison,Fl back in 1996 and got out in 1998. It started at$500 and at the end of 1999 in Dec. it was already at $800 and gave us notice for the 2000 season of $1000, the land is owned by Proctor & Gamble,so I said no!
It was 1800 acres bordering San Pedro WMA 55,000 acres. We ran deer dogs most of the time, except when we hunted the club presidents anunts 20 acres of planted FieldPeas. There was only 70 in the club, but the most hunting during the week were 4 or 5. On the week-ends there might have been10 or 15 at a time.I had alot of fun up there, but Proctor & Gamble got to greedy!
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Old 12-25-2005, 08:59 PM
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Default RE: Should hunting over bait be illegal in your area?

dang that sucks! i wish i could find some decent land to lease around here for under $1,000.00. it would also have to be within a 4 hour drive from me. i can't afford anything over a grand a year and if it's too far away, i'd only be able to hunt it once or twice a year and it wouldn't be worth it. i use to dog hunt, matter of fact i was raised up dog hunting but now i'm a full time still hunter.
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Old 12-25-2005, 09:18 PM
  #18  
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Default RE: Should hunting over bait be illegal in your area?

ORIGINAL: CamoCop

dang that sucks! i wish i could find some decent land to lease around here for under $1,000.00. it would also have to be within a 4 hour drive from me. i can't afford anything over a grand a year and if it's too far away, i'd only be able to hunt it once or twice a year and it wouldn't be worth it. i use to dog hunt, matter of fact i was raised up dog hunting but now i'm a full time still hunter.

Yeah,when I left I was paying $800 club dues once a year, $200 for the season to park my travel trailer at the presidents place (because theres no camping on Proctor & Gamble),$50 for not showing up for work road clearing detailwhen Iwould'nt show up, the gas spent for a 700 mile round trip and about 100 miles when hunting for two weeks, andthe food and drinks for atwo weekstay and Idid that twice a season, that was about $150.
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Old 12-25-2005, 09:24 PM
  #19  
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Default RE: Should hunting over bait be illegal in your area?

noone can say hunting is cheap!!! i wonder if Bass Pro will hire me for part time work and pay me in store credits?!?!
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Old 12-25-2005, 10:00 PM
  #20  
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Default RE: Should hunting over bait be illegal in your area?

I think it really depends on where you are at! It isn't as easy as throwing out a pile of corn, and they come from miles away! At least not here!
As far as disease, feeders have been legal hereforever, and there is NO CWD!
If its legal where you are, its your choice, if its illegal, you have no choice!
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