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 "'┬Žnot 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.

Recommended for You

In the market for a new traditional bow? Here are our top picks from the 2019 ATA Show! ATA Show

New Recurve Bows for 2019

Brian Strickland - January 11, 2019

In the market for a new traditional bow? Here are our top picks from the 2019 ATA Show!

New year, new look at your whitetail ground How-To

Summer Scouting from Scratch

Tony J. Peterson

New year, new look at your whitetail ground

For those of us heading into the elk woods with the hopes of a close encounter with a rutting bull, Field Tools

5 Must-Have Pieces of Gear for Any Elk Hunt

Zach Bowhay - September 23, 2016

For those of us heading into the elk woods with the hopes of a close encounter with a rutting...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Elk Bulls Abound in Colorado

Elk Bulls Abound in Colorado

Bowhunter team member Rudy Bachraty gets his chance to take an elk with Cross Mountain Outfitters of Colorado.

Kentucky Bowfishing Competition

Kentucky Bowfishing Competition

Bowhunter Editor Curt Wells has a friendly bowfishing competition with members of the Muzzy Bowfishing team on Kentucky Lake.

2018 Bowhunter TV Episode 6: Great Start!

2018 Bowhunter TV Episode 6: Great Start!

Guest hunter Christian Berg visits Whitetail Heaven Outfitters in Kentucky and gets his deer-hunting season off to a great start with an amazing velvet buck.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

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.

New year, new look at your whitetail ground How-To

Summer Scouting from Scratch

Tony J. Peterson

New year, new look at your whitetail ground

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!

See More Stories

More Stories

As hunters, we need to give the respect we want to receive from others. Stories

Respect for the Hunt & Other Hunters

Dwight Schuh

As hunters, we need to give the respect we want to receive from others.

If your vacation plans take you to the American Midwest, be sure to visit the St. Charles Museum of Bowhunting, a place where the Beanfield Buck still stands guard Stories

Mel Johnson's Buck Still Stands Guard at Pope and Young Club Museum

Lynn Burkhead - June 15, 2018

If your vacation plans take you to the American Midwest, be sure to visit the St. Charles...

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...

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

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