baiting, my opinion and yours
We are not allowed to bait deer in Illinois. and with the onslaught of CWD, we are not even allowed to put out salt or anything else that would entice deer to gather in a specific location. do I agree with the current laws? yes and no. I believe that indiscriminate baiting should continue to be unlawful, but in the same notion, for increased harvesting purposes baiting should be allowed during certain times of the hunting season. this would bring deer to areas they might not otherwise congregate. hunters would have to spend less time in the field to accomplish their harvest goals thereby returning to them time to do other activities that may be more productive in stimulating economic growth. it would accomplish higher harvest numbers and aid in controlling high deer populations where it is problematic, where more nocturnal activity is present or areas where the prevalence of CWD had been determined as epidemic. a successful hunter is more likely to spend more money in pursuit of an activity he feels will return to him and equal exchange for his time and $$$. you could even do baiting on odd or even years. And that's just a few reasons to support baiting as I see it.
I don't think bait would improve my hunting but I live in an area that has a lot of deer. I guess some would call food plots baiting and I don't have a problem hunting those, so if it is legal I don't have a proble with it.
There are two facets to baiting, ethical and ecological.
Ethically, I leave that up to the shooter. If it is legal and one chooses to hunt over bait, that is thier business. As for me, no. I have hunted over bait twice, did not enjoy either as to me, it was not hunting. It was simply shooting. My last time was in Sask. and I shot a high 130" buck in which I take no pride or satisfaction.
Ecologically, I oppose baiting because I believe it may lead to a greater chance of the spread of disease. Although I can furnish no prove of this, to me, it is simply common sense. My degree is in wildlife biology and the concentration of animals in a highly restricted area for the purpose of feeding just does not make good sense to me.
Baiting is legal here in Texas. Due to the extended drought (we are still in), the Dept of Game & Wildlife is recommending to hunters to max out their tags this year or there will not be enough natural food remaining for the deer population to survive on.
We've had a lot of fawns born due to the relative wet season and successful rut we had last year. So I intend on following up on the recommendations by trying to take out a couple of the more mature does in the herds that pass through my property. I've already harvested my one buck allowed by the county, but do have two other active shooters (my son and daughter) who have yet to shoot anything yet this year.
I have water and food down range for a variety of reasons - baiting could be one of them, ensuring a successful hunt for seasons to come could be another. Ethical or ecological, I have baited every year I've hunted here and have also put several in the freezer every year as well. I don't hunt for trophy, I hunt to put food on the table. Do I have to hunt to survive? Not with town only 5 miles away with a Super Wally and HEB (grocery store). But hunting is something learned from my grandfather and something I am trying to pass down to my children - before it becomes a "dying" sport.
I bait right in my backyard, however the only reason I do this is for my wife and I to be able to watch the deer as they feed on corn and apples. I would never, and have never even considered killing a deer that has been baited. To me it just takes all the fun out of what is supposed to be "hunting." I also wouldn't do this if I thought the deer were going to be killed on the way to the feeder, but the entire mtn I live on is owned by an anti hunter, so I know they are safe traveling to eat in my yard!! But that is just the way I feel about it, doesn't make me right I don't reckon!
I believe that if we look at it scientifically,baiting will spread CWD and ultimately lead to the destruction of the deer herd.Deer need to disperse to remain healthy.Concentrating them in one area repeatedly creates problems other than CWD also.
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
University of Wyoming...many years ago.
For me hunting is not waiting. Its hunting, trekking thru the woods, tracking my game, stocking it. I think baiting is cheating. Making them come to you cause they are hungry and lying in wait is not sportmen.
What about making them come to you because they are overloaded with hormones and sex crazed. ever use estrus?
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