Baiting has changed deer hunting

By Ed Gilbert • Last Updated 12:58 pm on Monday, October 31, 2011

Well duh, don’t we all know that baiting has made a huge difference in deer hunting?

Sure we know it, especially those of us who are older and still remember the ‘old days.’ But, like everything else we can think of, time and tide wait for no man.

So, as has about everything else changed, so has deer hunting.

We had a little taste of that change for a few years, when baiting was disallowed in Michigan. And many hunters, those who were used to bait piles, didn’t like going back to the old way of sitting on a runway or up in a stand with no bait below to entice deer.

But now those hunters are indeed happy campers and the number of hunters in the woods is bound to increase. More licenses will be purchased and this will put more money in the DNR’s bank account.

But something else will put money in their account as well.  And that will occur because many hunters don’t understand the rules of baiting and will be violating those rules.

Let’s take a look at some of these facts or rules involving baiting.

First of all, what is considered bait?

“Bait” is a substance composed of grains, minerals, salt, fruits, vegetables, hay or other food materials which may lure or attract deer to aid in the hunt.

According to the DNR’s rules, baiting may occur only from October 1 to January 1 and the bait may be of any food type. Also, only two gallons are allowed at any one hunting site and it must be spread over a minimum of a 10-foot by 10-foot area.

Those last two rules are bound to trip up some hunters. And that would be those who are used to making a bait pile rather than spreading it around an area, along with those who used to back up and unload a pickup truck with goodies.

However, their is an option to placing bait over an area. It can be scattered by a mechanical feeder such as a spin-cast feeder, as long as you don’t exceed the maximum volume. Also, if one places food out strictly for viewing deer, or for ‘recreational viewing’ as the DNR puts it, you can’t exceed the two-gallon limit and it must be within 100 yards from a residence on land owned or possessed by that person.

Here’s one kicker that has been in vogue for many years. That is food plots. And those may be naturally occurring foods, standing agricultural crops or food placed as a result of using normal agricultural practices. Those, say the DNR, are not considered to be bait or feed.

So there are some of the ‘differences’ or changes involving deer hunting today. Personally, I’ve never made it a practice to bait deer, beyond an apple I’ve tossed from my deer stand on occasion. I usually prefer the old fashioned methods of scouting, tracking and merely sitting alongside a runway while waiting for deer to come along.

Yeah, I’m an old guy, and that’s the way we used to hunt. I still believe it’s the best way, but I harbor no ill feelings toward those who wish to bait deer. It’s their choice.

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