Scribe, where did you get your degree? I too have (hopefully as of next friday) my degree in Wildlife & Fisheries Management.
I agree with most of what you are saying but I do have a question or arguement. If sheer numbers was a problem, wouldn't long seasons/higher bag limits be a better idea? I know when I have hunted Illinois (out of state hunter, and been a few years ago...Clay County I believe), I could only kill one deer of either sex and the seasons were extremely short. Also, I don't think making harvest goals more readily obtainable is that good of an option because many hunters now-a-days are beginning to wait for bigger and bigger buck. If this is the case it may lead to just longer instances of baiting. Just kinda my initial thoughts...
I constantly have been in an argument of with many of my professors over this very issue. Here are some points I like to make:
1. Deer are social animals. Bucks get into bachelor groups during the summer and feed together and does do the same thing. So if these deer generally bed and travel together, they already have a chance at spreading of a disease. I mean many of us hunt travel routes but we don't see just one deer.
2. Food plots are baiting. Plain and simple. It may be a much harder (but for me a much more rewarding) type of it that requires some time, sweat, and money. Throwing out piles of corn is much easier and cheaper. However, both have the same goal of influencing wildlife to travel to a certain area and stay for an extended time (in hopes of a better chance of harvest). Both practices concentrate deer in an area to feed. Yet my argument is that during the mast production/fall, deer gather at many of the same trees to feed. Every hunter I know has a favorite white/red oak to sit by when the acorns are falling because they know the deer "tear it up". Therefore is baiting (food plots included) really concentrating deer any more? Of course the answer could depend on the amount acres you have for food plots and how many acres of mast trees you have.
3. There could be different types of baiting. When I hear "baiting" a dumptruck load of corn piled in the woods is what I see in my mind. But what about broadcast baiting. Say that you could bait but only if you spread out X amount of lbs of bait over X amount of acreage (something that a simple feeder couldn't do)? I don't care what state or area you live in, but the huge corn pile type of baiting is not ethical or ecological for several reasons. However, broadcasting the bait over an area could be a viable option. It would be hard to police (being purely objective) and may lead to just saying that you cant make large/huge piles.
Honestly, and I have read the wildlife society publications on baiting and most come from states/areas with naturally low occuring food. Also, many of those studies that show nothing but harmful effects have only done it on one large bait source (dumptruck of corn). I have asked my professors to let me look into baiting in other areas or by other means as a grad project, but I have basically been told that "we know everything about baiting". I see some fallacies in the published studies mainly because:
1. there is more than one way to bait
2. the baiting was a huge increase in a food source that could lead to artificially increased number of deer (number goes up but once bait is gone, carrying capacity of the land decreases, and that causes high mortality. Therefore number goes up for a bit only to crash)
3. Much of the baiting was done with just corn
4. Many of the studies done on the harmful effects of baiting were done in a closed system (large pen or high-fenced area).
They have not found a confirmed case of CWD in TN and I hope that constantly remains the case. I recently looked at a map and compared areas that allow baiting to areas that have high cases of CWD. They didn't match up very well (least the ones I found didn't). I have heard and almost support the idea that CWD is a naturally occuring process to keep the deer population numbers down. This could hold more water because many of the areas high with CWD are not the best habitat areas for Elk/Deer.
I for one could never hunt over bait just poured out on the ground. I find it much more satisfying to work with my hands to produce a food plot to bring in deer. Also, I read many publications on the palatibilty, nutrition, and preference of many different food sources to deer. I then try and use this in my plantings/management. Then it becomes a game of wits and science combined.
Just my $.02, but I hope this thread goes on because I enjoy talking about subjects like these
Last edited by VolHunter; 11-29-2011 at 10:14 PM.