Deer Baiting – The Never Ending Saga

February 20, 2009 by  

By Chris Hustad


A photo from the ND Game & Fish showing a very large bait pile

A photo from the ND Game & Fish showing a very large bait pile

One of the most controversial topics to ever come up in the Nodak Outdoors forums is whether or not deer baiting is ethical. Keep in mind, anytime you want to argue ethics you’re arguing a very large gray area. Who decides what is ethical? That is in the eye of the beholder, and everyone’s book of ethics is different.

Many argue that baiting with a pile is no different then using a food plot, which is a very common practice all over the U.S. Yet to others, this isn’t a valid argument as in the following opinion. “There is a difference in baiting and hunting over a food plot. With baiting you get them to come to the exact spot you want them to come. With food plots the deer can go anywhere out in the food plot, most of the time, for me, out of bow range. Now if I was baiting the chances of me getting a deer would increase by a lot compared to over a food plot.”

Some claim they don’t want to bait deer simply because it attracts too much attention. This hunter goes on to say, “…the main reason I don’t do it is when the big boy comes walking by, I don’t want 20 does around me increasing the odds of getting busted.”

Another point that’s thrown around often is how baiting will affect a deer’s natural daily pattern. According to one hunter, “…you’ll never shoot a big buck over bait and it’s actually detrimental to a deer herd and you kill less deer because they tend to become nocturnal over bait.” So while this will bring more deer to your location, it might not bring the deer you’re looking for.

Another element that’s argued often is the potential for baiting to further spread CWD through the deer herds. The state of Michigan recently issued the emergency “no baiting” rule after Michigan’s first case of Chronic Wasting Disease was detected in the Grand Rapids area. Not only did this bring on a lot of heat over the topic of deer baiting, but a lawsuit was filed by farmers and retailers who claimed this recent ban was greatly affecting their business. The lawsuit was recently dismissed so the deer baiting ban goes on in Michigan. Up until that ban, there was a 2 gallon limit per hunting location that could be spread over a 10′ x 10′ minimum area.

There has been a lot of pressure to make the practice of deer baiting illegal in North Dakota. Not only has this been very controversial, but the defining and enforcing of a deer ban will be difficult. There was a recent article from Doug Leier from the ND Game & Fish on the Deer Baiting Issue.

If you’d like to read and comment in the current discussion over deer baiting, see our Deer Baiting Topic.


5 Comments on "Deer Baiting – The Never Ending Saga"

  1. JW Nelson on Sat, 26th Dec 2009 11:24 am 

    I think it ( both food plots & baiting as well as decoys ) should be banned in North Dakota, and the sooner the better! It takes away the issue of “fair chase”.
    In another issue, I’d like to see something done about the preservation of our Trophy Bucks here. Its known widespread that Bow hunters take an extremely high amount of our larger Bucks, there should be a law implemented to preservation here. All Bow hunters; regardless of where their hunting should respect the genetics, because once their gone, their gone forever, and its not like they really even care. Sure, there are some people that live out in the country that believe their doing them a favor by taking out the older Bucks and leaving younger Bucks also taking out the older Does leaving the younger Does, that brings the question up of whether or not their know what their doing. Deer dont interbreed amongst their own clan, thats why you see Younger Bucks that are a couple years of age migrate into unknown territory to seek out a Doe in heat and once they find them their constantly looking for a place to hide, be it a farmstead or inside a Cornfield. Ive sat here for many, many years watching the Deer that live nearby, the circumstance is always the same where the bigger out of area Bucks that come in for the older Does fight with the younger Bucks with some of them pushing them out to seek another clan. They can get very vicious and I have seen wounded Deer many times. Now getting back to what I originally meant to write here, there should be a law passed that protects the genes of these monster Bucks we have, that seem to only come out for the luckiest of hunters, the law should go something like this; NO Bucks with an antler amount of 8+ points should be taken for a 3 year period and after that 3 year period they can be harvested for a 1 year period, then closed for another 3 year period and so on and so forth. Now before the state of North Dakota turns into the barren state of Minnesota where the Deer are almost nonexistent, an issue should be brought up here.
    Also a law that “should” be passed is where nobody is allowed to shoot a firearm or Bow within a 100 yards of any existing road or byway. And when the G&F come up with these extra tags in certain zones, they should be sold over the counter rather than sold over the internet or by mail etc. My reason is simple, it makes it easier to poach Deer in other zones. Plus, I’d love to see more and more Game Wardens in our state, and more to the extent of two or three per county.

  2. James J on Fri, 29th Oct 2010 9:00 am 

    Baiting should be legal with the bow becasue you give the deer a chance the way it is

  3. Marc on Wed, 17th Nov 2010 12:43 pm 

    The obvious ethical reasons for hunting over bait is being left out of the discussion and it appears there is a jealous bias against bow hunters. Baiting is legal in Ontario for good reason. The most important reason is it provides for a clean kill shot when bow hunting. Second the deer need food to survive our winters. I think that more food plots should be grown here in Ontario to lessen supplemental feeding and make deer food sustainable. What we don’t want is deer crash like what I hear the 60’s and 70’s were like. Second baiting is not easy. You can’t just plop your corn down anywhere and expect results. You got to find where the deer are comfortable; for me that is almost two miles in the bush. Down a hill, across a swamp, up a hill, and down a ridge. Carrying 25kg sacks of corn on your back is something most people can’t do. The terrain is way too rough for a four wheeler. My gf can’t even pick it up. Also baiting doen’t eliminate all the mistakes hunters make. You still have to do everything else right. Hunting the right wind, scent control, etc. etc.. Finally these are big woods deer, certainly not farm field deer. The terrain is so vast and natural food sources spread far apart or non-existant by late fall that baiting makes sense to make your area appealing to deer. Also deer are not the only beneficiary, grouse, bear, song birds, and squirrels eat probably 50% of the feed I place out. So although baiting is not for everyone and every region, it certainly is an acceptable, ethical, and legal hunting practice for many! Do you ever put a worm on a hook? It is no different. Some like to fish with lures including myself, but when you absolutely have to catch a fish live bait is the way to go. Same with hunting deer.

  4. nate on Mon, 2nd May 2011 10:33 am 

    deer should be allowed to be baited

  5. Jonathon Hallman on Thu, 15th Dec 2011 9:29 pm 

    If your trying to feed a family a little late season baiting may be a good idea.

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