OUTDOOR TRUTHS: Pros & Cons of Deer Baiting
By Gary Miller
Baiting deer has its proponents and opponents. In fact, not even all state wildlife agencies agree. In my area, Kentucky allows it, and Virginia and Tennessee do not. And much of the time, we’re talking about the same deer. Individuals are divided on the activity as well. Those who are against it believe it offers an unfair advantage to the hunter. They would compare it to fishing in pond. Those who are okay with baiting, think that other factors involved keep any advantage to a minimum.
For me, since I live on the border of three states, I can speak to both sides and can also tell you what I prefer. Well, let me just tell you. I wished all states allowed baiting, unless those states have critical issues with Chronic Wasting Disease. If that’s the case, baiting needs to be stopped. Otherwise, go for it. Here’s what I’ve noticed. First, baiting gives an opportunity for a new hunter to harvest a deer. It’s more effective in growing the hunter population, which is paramount for the future of hunting. Secondly, baiting doesn’t increase the number of deer one can harvest per season. A hunter in Kentucky is still not allowed to take more than one buck each year. This means if a hunter decides to shoot a six-pointer, he is done for the year and out of the woods. This makes more room and opportunity for those who are looking for a larger trophy. And for those who are holding out for a large-racked deer; they rarely settle for anything less. This means if a trophy hunter doesn’t ever see that big buck, she will probably end the year with that tag unfilled.
Lastly, baiting does not guarantee a particular deer will show up. In fact, bucks (especially big ones) are smart animals. They got big by remaining skeptical, especially when there is something in their woods that is not indigenous.
I know I’ll get a couple of e-mails about my opinion, but it’s just my opinion. I’m not a scientist or biologist, but as I said earlier, even those biologists in our state wildlife agencies disagree. So, I’m not sure if anyone can say there is only one way. I’m just an observer with a desire for others to join the hunting ranks. With the exorbitant fees that hunters must pay to hunt, the ranks are getting thinner by the year. Unfortunately, those same agencies that want us to hunt, will bear much of the guilt for its demise in the years to come. They are slowly pricing our sport into one only the elite can participate in. Which means that one day, the anti-hunters will outnumber the hunters, and we will be voted into submission. Perhaps a pile of corn on a Kentucky ridge can bring a new hunter into the fold. And perhaps that will give a little more time for some higher-ups to figure out how to bring in more money to the commissions without getting rid of the hunter in the process. And that’s the Outdoor Truth.
Gary Miller can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.