The Bait/No-Bait Debate


Right up there with “Which bullet or broadhead is best?” falls the bait/no-bait debate. As hunters look for ways to increase deer hunting success. Ironically, some research suggests that baiting deer does not give hunters an increased advantage because deer pattern hunter movements and feed at night. With the hunting season just around the corner, consider the pros and cons.

TX Deer 06 274First, baiting deer may not be legal in your state or county, so be sure to check the regulations carefully. These regulations are based on disease prevention, particularly contagious Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). The more deer that accumulate in a small space, the greater the chance for disease transmission. Additionally, deer feeders tend to limit the core range of deer, which can cause them to over-browse an area and limit their diet to specific foods. In black bear areas, deer feeders are frequently visited (and destroyed) by bears who my not play nice with your cabin — and the more you feed, the more likely they’ll stick around. Finally, deer feeders, like bird feeders, can cause wildlife to depend on a specific food source. During a bad winter, if the food source stops (or if animals can’t access the feeders), those animals may starve.

On the positive side, deer feeders are an excellent way to observe and enjoy animals on your property. Deer are most active at night and a feeder is an ideal place to post a game camera to learn what’s really out there. Archers may benefit from feeders because they help pinpoint the exact location of deer activity and provide close range shots at animals that are not alarmed. If you own a small piece of property, even an acre, you may be able to attract deer from neighboring properties with a regular food supply. You might even provide minerals for increased antler growth and overall health. Finally, if you’re less able to walk long distances, you may lure deer closer for easier access, a benefit for retrieval as well.

As the season approaches, outdoor stores will offer great deals on wildlife feeders. First, do your research online. A good place to start is at The Sportsman’s Guide, which offers a variety of feeders from major manufacturers, with discounted prices starting at $26.99.

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Joe Byers
Joe Byers has more than 1,000 magazine articles in print and is currently a field editor with Whitetail Journal, Predator Xtreme, Whitetails Unlimited, Crossbow Revolution, and African Hunting Journal magazines. He’s spent the last three decades depicting the thrill of the chase and photographing the majesty of all things wild. Byers is a member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association and numerous other professional and conservation organizations.