I was reading a post by Arthur over at SimplyOutdoors.Net the other night. He had an excellent post on baiting deer. After reading his post, I found that we have some of the same opinions about baiting Deer.
I've never given much thought to baiting Deer until recently. When I moved to Texas 8 years ago, I was amazed at how many people here used corn feeders. If you didn't know any better, you'd think that a Deer couldn't be killed in Texas unless you had a corn feeder!
What's even more bizarre is that a lot of Texas hunters do not consider sitting over a corn feeder as baiting!
In the area where we hunt in Oklahoma, more and more hunters are using corn feeders. I personally do not see the attraction. I've tried it and I believe it's a bunch of Deer pellets. Sure, I saw Deer, quite a few Deer to be exact. But it just wasn't for me.
However, I'll be the first to put a lot of work in and grow a food plot. I'll take a good food plot over any type of feeder any day.
I never stopped to think about it, but I guess you can consider food plots as baiting also. If that's so, so be it. Unfortunately, where we hunt in Oklahoma, many of the landowners raise Cattle to supplement their income. If a good food plot will attract Deer, it'll attract Cattle a helluva lot faster, especially in Winter! Needless to say, we don't plant many food plots!
I believe baiting Deer is a personal decision. Each Hunter has to decide whether or not they feel okay hunting over bait. It doesn't matter if that bait is a truckload of Sugar Beets, a corn feeder or a food plot.
Baiting Deer - The Good
I believe the can be positive aspects of baiting Deer. For one thing, if you practice harvesting Does, it can help you remove Does that are straining herds in over populated areas.
Also, if you're putting out a lot of bait, it may help Deer put on a little more fat before Winter arrives. This may help many of them make it through Winter and to Spring greenup.
Baiting deer can also be a good thing for new hunters. How many of you could remain rock still when you first started Deer hunting? New hunters want to see Deer! Even if they don't get the opportunity to take one. It's better to see Deer, even over a bait pile, than to spend the whole day shivering and moving around because you're bored, wishing you were back home playing video games.
Baiting Deer - The Bad
In some areas, a Deer herd can become dependent on bait. This isn't good if you stop putting it out after Deer season.
Over the last few years, I've also read stories of Hunters sitting over bait piles after hours or after the season has closed and poaching deer.
Probably the worse thing about baiting is that it can spread disease's among the Deer herd. If you live in an area that has cases of Chronic Wasting Disease, you really need to take a long hard look at baiting.
Deer are browsers. They don't feed at trough's like Cows. Think more in terms of Goats. They take a nip here and a bite there. When Deer feed at bait piles, pieces of food get mouthed and left behind. Other deer can pick these pieces of food up and eat them. If the first Deer was diseased, the disease is passed on. By concentrating Deer in one area with bait, diseases's can spread through the herd quickly, having a devastating and long lasting effect on local Deer herds.
Baiting Deer - The Ugly
If there is one thing that turns me off about baiting, it's that most Hunters stop doing it as soon as Deer season is over.
Why is that a problem?
Because Deer season ends just as Winter is ramping up. If Deer are used to supplementing their browse habits by stopping by a bait pile or corn feeder, then all of a sudden it's gone, it can have devastating effects on the herd during the Winter. Especially the further North you are.
That's why I prefer food plots. They're there for many months. Some are there year round. They feed Deer through the Winter and into the most nutritional challenging time of year, just before Spring green up.
Hey Hunters, if you're going to bait, at least keep the bait out until Spring greenup arrives!
Better yet, plant food plots. It's less likely to pass disease and the Deer will get long lasting benefits from it. And you won't have to think about putting out more feed on Sunday afternoon, you can stay in and watch football!
As a final note, in some States, baiting and feeding wild Deer is against the law. So make sure you read all the regulations before putting out that pile of corn!