A total statewide (WI) ban on using bait for deer hunting was announced today. Also banned is residential feeding of deer. The reason is the outbreak of chronic wasting disease (CWD) discovered in deer harvested by hunters last fall in SW Wisconsin. This is the first time it's been discovered east of the Miss. River. There's been somewhat of a panic amongst wildlife management personnel (maybe justly so). Feeding and baiting of deer concentrates deer together at feed sights, sometimes nose to nose, and this may facilitate the spead of the disease.
I feed deer regularly by my home. I've had as many as 15-20 at one time, less than 20 yards from my living room window. Sometimes I'd forget to put out some corn, and they'd just stare up at the window, waiting for me. I'd go out and feed them, talking softly to them, and the "regulars" got to recognize my voice, and would not run off... I'd get as close as 10 yds sometimes. I will miss this, but I understand why the ban... and I agree with it.
What I won't miss is the practice of baiting for hunting. Too many hunters have forgotten how to hunt, and merely dump a pile of corn in the woods and wait nearby. It's gotten so bad in the last few years, that if you didn't bait like everybody else (on public land) you'd see very few deer, as they'd all head directly for the bait piles. I succumbed to the temptation of baiting, because I hunt on public land and the "competition" had corn piles all over the woods... but I limited it to small amounts, and only during bow season.
While I'm glad it's gone, I fear it's a two edge sword. Our deer population is out of control, and the practice of baiting was a huge help in reducing the numbers of deer, by hunters. So many guys have relied so heavily on it however, that they forgot how to really go out and hunt for deer. Because of this, I see the deer harvest next fall taking a huge nosedive. With so many deer on the landscape, making more deer to deer contact because of these huge numbers that will now concentrate at natural feed locations instead of the millionms of corn piles in the woods for a few weeks, will this ban be a help in controlling CWD, or help it spread? Even though I don't like the practice of hunters baiting, I think banning it will do more harm than good, because most of the baiters are gun hunters, and our gun season is only 9 days. Banning residential feeding which goes on year-round, however, I think is a very necessary step. Hunters are limited to 10 gallons of bait, but residential feeders have no limit, and I've seen corn or potato piles bigger than my truck, and literally hundreds of deer together at some locations. In these situations, one infected deer could pass on the disease to hundreds of others, that it would never contact so closely otherwise.
Just my own opinions, what do you guys think? Any other WI hunters got any opinions?
Baiting is a very useful method of hunting. Especially in areas of dense foliage.
It seems that a lot of folks look down on it, I've never figured out why. It reminds me of the debate on shooting does.
I've killed lots of deer for meat at corn feeders. I have never killed a really good buck at one though. Most of the good bucks I've killed have been chasing does during the rut.
One of the things I've always found contradictory is the guys who look on deer baiting with disdain, but will happily hunt a field planted in wheat or oats. What is the difference?