Deer baiting takes the sport out of hunting and can cause disease
WORTHINGTON -- When I go pheasant hunting I always check the sunset table in the hunting regulation handbook so I know when sunset is. If I am hunting an area and the designated times comes and if I am not back to the truck, I will unload my shot...
WORTHINGTON -- When I go pheasant hunting I always check the sunset table in the hunting regulation handbook so I know when sunset is.
If I am hunting an area and the designated times comes and if I am not back to the truck, I will unload my shotgun and walk back empty.
I will relive the flushes and the feats of the dogs, but shooting after hours gives me no satisfaction. Shooting a pheasant 20 minutes after sunset is easier than at any other time. They are headed back to roosting cover and are easier to approach. Some hunters will push this envelope to the maximum, but if I cannot take my quarry legally I can take no pleasure in it.
Hunting with ethics gives me the greatest satisfaction. One area of hunter ethics that has been challenged in recent years is baiting for deer.
Deer baiting in Minnesota has been illegal since 1991. Most deer baiting is done in the northern part of the state but it has seen an increase even in farm country. Most baiting is done by pouring corn in a big pile under deer stands or along travel lanes that deer use. Corn is common, but so are apples, small grain or even beets. The sad part is that other states do not ban deer baiting. This results in the "Other states do it so why can't we?" mentality.
So why is deer baiting bad? To me it doesn't pass the fair chase test. Fair chase is the sportsman's skill and knowledge pitted against the animals' natural instinct and wariness. When wild animals can walk up to the equivalent of a wild game feed bunk, they become accustomed to the easy meal and let down their guard.
Deer baiting requires less hunting skill to bag game, and makes hunters and sportsman into just shooters. Not everyone will agree with me on this subject and I respect their opinion, but baiting has no place in the ethic sportsman's bag of tricks from my point of view.
An area is considered baited if feed was deposited 10 days before the hunting season that you are participating in. In reality I think that the residual effect lasts much long than 10 days. The fine if you get caught is only $382. I think it should be about $1,000. What are these hunters teaching the young kids in their hunting parties? Easy is best, so pour the corn.
So what other negatives exist as a result of deer baiting? In cows it's called mad cow disease. In deer it's called Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).
This disease is spread deer to deer by close contact. What do you supposed a pile of corn does? It puts deer in very close proximity and in large numbers.
What it the result? The spread of this devastating disease.
In areas that CWD is discovered the solutions are not pretty. In many cases the managing authority has no choice but to try to harvest (kill) 100 percent of the deer in that area. That means shooting all of the deer in certain areas. Makes you want to keep CWD out of your neighborhood. These methods are not completely proven to succeed, but until more is known it seems the only available remedy.
So baiting spreads CWD, but so does recreational feed by non-hunters. Recreational feeding has gotten to be big business by many feed companies that cater to the suburban homeowner who thinks watch deer in the back yard is neat. Seeing deer is neat, but concentrating deer, whether is a bait pile by a deer stand or a feed pile in the back yard, will both cause the same problem.
Deer feeding is not illegal in Minnesota yet but I wish it were. This rule change will not come easily as there will be uproar from homeowners and shooters (notice I did not say hunters?) who enjoy the practice. This pressure needs to be overcome for the health of the deer heard before CWD becomes common all over the upper Midwest. It is a lot easier to keep the cat in the bag than it is to try to put it back once it has escaped. Have you ever tried to put a cat in a bag?
Baiting is all about hunter ethics and fair chase. If it were legal in Minnesota I still would not do it, even if it meant less venison in the freezer. These issues are important for the future of hunting. Share your ideas will friends and spread the word. Spirited debates bring about solid results.
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