When To Bait Deer With Man-Placed Feed

Baiting deer is a controversial topic, but when natural food sources are unavailable it can be the best option if your state's hunting regulations allow it.

When To Bait Deer With Man-Placed Feed

Baiting with corn or other man-placed feed is one of hunting’s most controversial topics. I’m neutral. I believe there are right and wrong ways to do it. If other food sources are available and actively being used, I see no sense in using a method that requires intrusive visits to your hunting area.

However, there are circumstances where it can be done effectively. One example is my North Dakota buck from December of 2007. My brother and I were being hosted by a generous family of residents with an extensive knowledge of the area we’d be hunting. Aside from leased land we couldn’t hunt, most of the ground was barren — all the crops had been harvested earlier in the year. Without bait, deer had no reason to pinch down in particular areas for an archery-close encounter. Our hosts began baiting for approximately one week before our arrival and plenty of deer were frequenting the bait stations.

During our first evening, we saw more than 50 deer as we approached our abandoned-house ambush. Once we settled in for the evening, we watched dozens of deer trickle through a skimpy shelterbelt 100 yards away. Does, fawns and young bucks visited the bait all afternoon. Six shooter bucks kept our eyes glued to binoculars, and as dusk was hinting its arrival, one of the shooter bucks — a fine 9-pointer with heavy mass and a split G-2 finally took the bait. I arrowed him. Before shooting light drained, Brad arrowed a mature doe. Our mid-December double proved late-season deer that have been hunted with rifles can be taken over bait.

Be sure to study your state’s hunting regulations before baiting. If it’s legal, be sure to follow limits. I’ve found starting with the maximum legal limit gets deer coming in, but once they’re hooked, reducing the amount encourages an earlier visit.

I rarely bait. In fact, I haven’t done it in years. But when I do, it’s during the late season when temperatures are frigid and crops have been harvested. Under these conditions, baiting can be a deadly ploy. If you choose not to for personal reasons, you have my respect. Again, I only do it when a natural food source isn’t available, which is rare.


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