Some Readers Hate Bait

Some Readers Hate Bait

"If the goal is to put venison on the table, shooting is good."

Whenever we publish a story or air a Bowhunter TV program that involves deer baiting, readers and viewers pummel us. For the latest example, see Between Bowhunters (p. 10), in which David D. Smith, from Wisconsin, throws a few hard blows.

He makes some valid points, and, personally, I agree with much of what he says. Still, as an editor, writer, and hunter, I feel compelled to respond because his letter, like many others, doesn't address the whole picture.


As an editor, I feel some need to defend the content of our magazine and TV program.


The fact is, baiting is far more widespread than many people realize. According to C.J. Winand's "2009 Deer Forecast" (see www.bowhunter.com), deer baiting is legal in all or parts of 29 states/provinces. So it is widely practiced, and we, as a magazine, don't take a stance on baiting. It's just another legal hunting method we occasionally cover. The responsibility for setting regulations rests on the individual states and provinces.

As a writer, I see value in participating in all legal hunting methods because I cannot write -- pro or con -- about any hunting method unless I've been there and done that. So I've hunted deer over bait. In years past, I've hunted over corn feeders in Texas, and during the past two seasons, I've hunted over bait in Saskatchewan and Washington.


As a hunter, having hunted over bait allows me to draw some informed conclusions, and when Smith writes, "I am sure it does make things easier," I would not fully agree. As C.J. points out in his response to Smith, baiters actually spend more time in the field per deer killed than do non-baiters.


My experience would bear that out. Where I was hunting, trail cameras showed plenty of mature bucks -- feeding at night. But seeing one during the day proved to be a whole other story.

Around the baits, deer are more cautious and skittish than in natural situations, probably because they are vulnerable to predators and are continually vying with each other. As a result, on stand you simply cannot move. Even the slightest rustle of clothing will send deer into flight, never to be seen again.

Smith said that baiting is "€¦not hunting; it's shooting." That depends on how you define hunting. No, baiters don't have to sleuth out travel routes, creep through the woods for hours, or call like world champions. But those aren't the only elements of hunting. Sitting dead still for 11 hours in below-zero weather takes unwavering discipline, and in that sense, hunting over bait requires some serious hunting skill.

Perhaps more to the point, even if it is "shooting," is that so bad? If the goal is to put venison on the table, shooting is good. And I can attest that deer shot over bait taste just as good as those shot anywhere else.

I can also attest that the sight of a monster buck near bait is no less thrilling than anywhere else. That's one reason I went to Saskatchewan and Washington, two mother lodes of trophy bucks. Heck, killing my biggest buck ever would be easy.

So, in 2008, I spent eight full days on stand in Saskatchewan and never lifted my bow. In 2009, I spent another eight days there and killed an average eight-pointer the last hour of the last day. In Washington in 2009, I spent nine days on stand. On the seventh, I started to draw on a good buck -- and got busted by another deer. That was my only chance.

Thus, in 25 full days of hunting over bait in the great North Woods, I tagged one average buck. Frankly, I would have been happy with a little less hunting and a lot more shooting.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Daybreak Whitetail Bowhunt

Daybreak Whitetail Bowhunt

Bowhunter TV Editor Derek Mleynek has a chance to fill his buck tag on a mixed bag hunt in Texas.

Season Opener: Kentucky Whitetail Bowhunt

Season Opener: Kentucky Whitetail Bowhunt

Christian Berg arrives at Whitetail Heaven Outfitters in Kentucky to kick off the beginning of his hunting season.

Kansas Turkey Bowhunt

Kansas Turkey Bowhunt

Bowhunter contributor Matt Palmquist sets up shop for a turkey hunt in Kansas.

Canyon Ranch Bowhunt

Canyon Ranch Bowhunt

Bowhunter Equipment Editor Tony Peterson sees plenty of action while hunting whitetails and hogs in Texas.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Chasing predators is great for calming big-game nerves. Other Game

Tips for Bowhunting Predators

Joe Bell

Chasing predators is great for calming big-game nerves.

 Cooking venison in camp is the best way to celebrate success. Recipes

Fresh Meat: Cooking Venison in Camp

David Draper

Cooking venison in camp is the best way to celebrate success.

Follow this advice before embarking on your first hunt! Big Game

Beginner's Guide to Bowhunting Mule Deer

Ron Niziolek

Follow this advice before embarking on your first hunt!

Take your hang-and-hunt to the next level with a Trophyline Tree Saddle. Treestands & Blinds

Look to Tree Saddle Hunting for Fall Success

Brian K. Strickland

Sponsored By
Trophyline

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

It's often said archers do it Stories

The Journey For A Longbow Super Slam

Nathan L. Andersohn - July 31, 2018

It's often said archers do it "the hard way," but hunting with a longbow is, by far, the...

On a cold day in December 2014, I had the pleasure of viewing an incredibly special whitetail deer. Stories

A DIY Quest for a 200-Class Whitetail

Dayne Majeau - July 27, 2016

On a cold day in December 2014, I had the pleasure of viewing an incredibly special whitetail...

Suddenly quiet, the bright-orange, one-time Danish Coast Guard boat drifted with the current, water Stories

A Greenland Hunting Adventure to Remember

Jeff Waring - January 02, 2018

Suddenly quiet, the bright-orange, one-time Danish Coast Guard boat drifted with the current,...

Dwight Schuh explains why it's okay to be serious about bowhunting - but not too serious! Stories

Hunting for the Fun of It

Dwight Schuh

Dwight Schuh explains why it's okay to be serious about bowhunting - but not too serious!

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Bowhunter subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now