Deer baiting can often be a contentious topic among bow hunters. Some states ban it, yet, others allow it. But even in the many states where deer baiting is legal, hunters have divided opinions on the topic. If you plan to hunt in a state that allows baiting but aren’t sure whether or not you want to engage in the practice, there are several dos and don’ts you ought to consider.
Baiting and Other Hunting Tactics
Many hunters use a variety of ways to make their hunt more successful. You already might use deer scent to fool bucks into thinking a doe is nearby. You also might locate a food source, such as a small food plot, or have permission to hunt in a corn field frequented by deer that inflict crop loss for a local farmer. A nutritious haystack or an oak tree that sheds acorns also can be great places to ambush a large buck.
Reducing Hunting Difficulty
If you are hunting on public lands, in many states, that means you likely are hunting where game populations are lowest. In many states, the majority of game are located on private lands, particularly those that support farming operations. Deer, after all, go where food, water, and cover are in the largest supply. If you don’t have permission to hunt on private land, you generally have two options for improving your chances of success. One is to spend a great deal of time scouting your hunting grounds weeks or months in advance. Your second option is to use a bait pile, making sure that you are within the specific laws of your state. The general aim is for you to create a specific location where a trophy buck is more likely to visit and bag it when it is in the vicinity.
Baiting for Bow Hunters
Many avid hunters enjoy bow hunting, which has a much shorter range than when hunting with a rifle. If you are planning a bow hunt, your most ethical shot will require you to be in very close to the deer and hit it in the vital organs. Of course, deer have excellent hearing and sense of smell and aren’t likely to simply wander into range while you are bow hunting. If you are hunting in a state that allows baiting, a bait pile can help draw your prey in close enough for you to take an ethical shot and make a humane kill with your bow.
Ethical Use of Baiting
When you choose to use baiting to increase your odds of hunting success, you still have ethical choices to make. Many hunters do not condone shooting a deer while it is at the bait pile. Instead, you should take your shot while it is on its way to or from the bait pile along a game trail. Many regional customs also might discourage use of baiting, even if it is legal. If you are in a location where there are established game trails used heavily by deer, particularly trophy bucks, the need for baiting is lessened. Some states have more wide open spaces where it is more difficult to locate established game trails. Others have mountains and other topography through which deer funnel and are much easier to locate. When you hunt in a location where natural topography force your prey to use established game trails, baiting is not necessary and often will be discouraged.