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Michigan has lifted its ban on deer baiting. Too bad. This relatively new hunting habit should be banned for good in Michigan and in every other state. Currently, 28 states ban deer baiting, 8 others limit the practice.

Baiting is the practice of placing carrots or sugar beets or some other food product in piles in the woods to attract deer (or bear) to the food source. Hunters set up nearby and wait for deer, conditioned after a few days of finding food in this spot, walk into range of hunters’ firepower.

Deer baiting seems to me to remove much of the challenge or sport of hunting deer. Unsuspecting deer become ducks in a barrel. The hunter doesn’t have to take time learning deer’s habits, tracking them, or finding the place to stand that most probably will offer a shot opportunity later in the day. Apparently my view is shared by some who support baiting because one of their arguments is that they “don’t have time” to do “real hunting.” No, with baiting, hunters simply bait-and-wait. Doesn’t seem like much of a sport to me.

Banning deer baiting helps reduce the possibility of the spread of disease like bovine TB or chronic wasting disease, which is why Michigan banned the practice for the past few years. Baiting increases likelihood of disease because animals are eating in one place rather than multiple places across the landscape. Now, though, because of political pressure, baiting is back.

Deer baiting is generally not supported by natural resource scientists or their scientific studies. It’s not supported by environmentalists or conservationists. It’s not even supported by most hunters, just a minority who apparently believe they cannot hunt deer in any other way.

I’m not against hunting. Actually, I think baiting harms hunting because it removes much of the need for hunters to spend time in the craft and improve their hunting skills. To put it bluntly, about anyone can sit with a gun and shoot when a target comes in view. That’s not hunting. It’s a carnival shooting gallery.

Baiting should be banned for hunting of any and all animals in all states. Banning baiting for good would be better for not just the animals, or for the sensibilities of the modern public, but for hunters and hunting too. What’s not to like about that?


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

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