View Full Version : Is baiting / plotting ethical, in your opinion?

September 24, 2004, 02:20 PM
Although it's LEGAL for most game in most states, as I understand it, do you consider it ethical to use a feeder or food plot to bait your game? Or does it depend on the species somehow as to whether it's ethical or not? Or, do you consider your ethics to be co-extensive with the law - for example, in my state you can bait most anything (whitetail, hogs, etc.) but not turkey - do you just figure that if its legal, it is therefore ethical, or what?

September 24, 2004, 02:37 PM
Here in Alabama it's illegal to hunt over any type of bait but you can plant food plots....doesn't make much sense to me. To my way of thinking, the bait is going to lay on the ground just the same as a food plot. And when the acorns are down, the deer won't come to a pile of corn or food plot. The only thing I don't agree with is feeders with timers on them. They train the deer to come in at a certain time and I don't feel like that is very ethical. Some may see it differently but then there's different strokes for different folks.

September 25, 2004, 03:38 PM
Food Plots and Agriculture - I consider these ethical because they need year around attention and actually are good for the land and animals. This is the same as farming and should be considered agriculture. Our camp has spent a couple of thousand dollars on seed, fertilizer and implements to maintain our food plots.

Stradling the Line - We used to have a farmer who would "spill" a bit of corn in strategic locations for us. They'd also leave a few rows of standing corn about 20 yards out from the woods line. I felt that this was baiting but the deer sure liked it and its perfectly legal in NYS.

Baiting - Throwing out a bushel of apples, where there are no apple trees, just to bring in a deer, isn't ethical in my book. I'm not a bit happy when I see the "experts" hunting over feeders etc. I know I'll get crucified, but I don't agree with bear hunting over bait either. That deer attractor stuff that comes in bags doesn't seem right either.

But then again - Are attractor scents baiting? How about rattling or grunting? Turkey calls? Bugling for elk?

September 26, 2004, 02:58 AM
The truth of the matter is that bringing the animals to you is becoming more necessary (I didn't say ethical) as we lose huntable private land and public hunting areas are down-sized or become congested with hunters. :(

As a Hunter Education Instructor I will always prefer food plots to feeders, but unless we regain some of these lost areas, I'm afraid the writing is on the wall, my brothers!

September 27, 2004, 11:03 AM
Well I might as well involve myself in some kind of substantial conversation while THR is down. :rolleyes:

It's a good discussion question FirstFreedom.

Although I'm still not totally decided on how I feel about it I continue to hunt over a feeder for the time being and I'll tell you why. Our land is rugged country. It's covered in thick mesquite and because of that we rarely see deer unless it's at a feeder. Because of the thick trees you'd rarely have a shot of more than 40 yards on the land....maybe 50 yards in a few places. In one of our tree stands you could stand there and see glimpses of antlers, movement in the brush etc... within 50 yards but never actually see a deer that you could get a shot on because of the trees. Also, in Bastrop county you can only take doe during bow season and I don't bow hunt...that makes it even tougher to get some venison because you might see plenty of doe at the feeder and never see a buck. After some fruitless years of hunting in which one old buck was taken over the course of a few years we finally put up some feeders. We've taken a few bucks but even with feeders they are still clever and elusive and not one buck was taken last year. Maybe in some areas a feeder ensures that plenty of bucks will be lounging around ready for easy pickins but not where I hunt.

Food Plots and Agriculture - I consider these ethical because they need year around attention and actually are good for the land and animals.

Hmm...our feeders require year-round attention and we usually try to keep them full of corn year round. Also, we are constantly having to repair feeder mechanisms, drain water and repair seals and whatnot. I don't think something requiring year round attention really affects the ethics of it though. We actually set up a protein feeder once that was restricted from hunting just to attempt to help increase the size and health of the deer out there but the deer just ate the corn and left the protein pellets that were mixed in and we let it fall into disrepair...so...we continue to feed the deer (and feral hogs :rolleyes: ) corn from automatic feeders that dispense at morning and night. It doesn't appear to make the big bucks any less elusive though.

EDIT: Oh yeah, one more thing regarding food plots...I don't think we've ever really considered it because of what the ground is like out there. It's this red clay that is really hard to dig through. I don't know though..maybe we could grow some kind of food in it that would be attractive to deer.

brad cook

September 27, 2004, 06:54 PM
I bait my hook when I fish. Why shouldn't I bait my hunting area for deer?

September 28, 2004, 10:21 PM
I've done it both ways.

I could not agree more with the comments by Digme. You could hunt lots of places in TX w/o feeders and not seem many animals and you will not see all of them w/ feeders. Don't want to burst any bubbles but if you think dumping out a pickup load of corn or apples guarentees a meeting with Mr. B&C white tail you don't know much about the subject.

I was on a lease a few years back where the guys supplemented year round. Some with food plots/some with feeders. They knew every buck on the place, its age etc and the doe it came from in most cases. This was in the middle of heavily farmed country. It was my impression that the only reason we ever saw good numbers of deer was their total management plan ...and the feeders were just part of that plan. BTW total management is a lot of work and not inexpensive. It also benefits lots of non-target species.

Was it unethical for me to harvest a deer under those conditions? I think not.
The other positive element of using feeders is related to safety. Locating the feeders with shooting lines in mind can make things much safer for all concerned.

No flame intended here but many opposed to supplementing have had precious little exposure to a total management plan. Many seem to think only those skills directly related to woodscraft, tracking and stalking are to be found in the skill sets of ethical hunters. Let me tell you the guys that managed that lease (one was a wildlife biologist) had plenty of knowledge and worked hard to get and keep the herd they had. You could have looked long and hard and not found a better or more ethical bunch.



September 29, 2004, 01:48 PM
Baiting bears and baiting Deer are like apples and pairs, Baiting bears is very ethical, most of the time you have a nice clear shot, you have plenty of time to take the shot, otherwise your chances for seeing them is rare, if for some reason like last year in NH the baiting was really good and the quota was hit half way through the season, the F&G just shuts the season early as they did. Seems there is less wounding of bears using bait sites, free ranging bears, they are ranging and moving most of the time, very hard to get a good clear shot, not saying this can not be done, just makes it harder.
Now baiting deer during season is illegal in most NorthEast states, you can bait before but not during, I agree with this situation, but up in canada where you see all these huge trophy bucks in most cases they are baited during season, the old smarter bucks are on to the program when the hunt begins, the only way to get them to slip is a rut or bait, I'm not big on baiting deer like farm animals, but in someways it can produce good clear shots for the hunters and less wounding, don't get wrong there is just some hunters that will wound a animal even if it was ten feet away, so there is always wounding happing, shooters error. I hope baiting bears continue, without it, our chances will decrease a great deal, now there is places in north america that have very high concentrations of bears and bear baiting is not needed, like Alaska or even out side of our country British Columbia etc...but in the thick bush of the northeast your chances are far and in-between. There is a place for baiting in curtain regions of our country, also helps to keep the numbers at bay, instead of over populating area's, then you will find bears on your door step begging for goodies, the only problem with that, you may be the goodies ;) Controlling numbers is the right words. Keeping the bears with a healthy population is the bottom line, before F&G preservation came into play, Hunters killed till there was almost no more,Look what almost happed to the Buffalo, at one time there was a healthy population of elk in NH/Maine/Vermont, there has not been a elk in many years in those area's, way before my time, on the other hand we have more deer etc... than any other time in the history of our land, this was due to conservation and preserving our animals for our children to enjoy for times to come, Teddy Roosevelt was one of the first to see beyond the hunt, and knew if we did not create a preservation for our animals there would be no more for other generations to come, Yellow Stone came to be. I would think in todays times we can control populations and keep them healthy and plentiful for generations to come. Our biggest problem is ignorance. God Bless America. Aim small hit small. RAMbo.

Art Eatman
October 1, 2004, 09:43 AM
I used to be against feeders for Bambi, but as I came to realize that for many people there's no way to find the time to hunt or the time to learn stalking skills, I changed my mind.

It's just like guided hunting: Some guy works his tail off in a city to have some sort of life--which precludes spending many hours, days or months outdoors to learn hunting skills. So, he takes some shortcuts in the brief time allowed him. Me, I'd like for that sort of guy to have at least a chance to have some successful hunting...

I've hunted over a feeder, but I find it boring. I like walking or stalking, but that's just me. But I grew up outdoors, in a different time and a different world...


October 1, 2004, 08:55 PM
I personaly dont like baiting any animal...it seems to mess up their natural clocks...for example if you start putting out apples in a place with no apples the deer will come...but then hunting seaso nwill end and the deer will get no apples...but they will look ofr them...im ok with food plots and since ive never been bear hunting i cant have an opinon on that...

October 12, 2004, 12:17 PM
I dont feel its wrong to bait deer. As long as you dont shoot everything that goes into the feeder to munch. You have to have some kind of a management plan. Besides, if you hunt for the "big one" as alot of us do, the chance of him actually going to the feeder is pretty slim, but it helps. Im not saying that the big one will never go into the feeders, but, The big old bucks will be weary of them.

October 23, 2004, 08:22 AM
How is baiting a deer any different than baiting a hook for a fish?

How is a food plot any different than chumming the ocean before wetting a line for a game fish?

A photographer for National Geographic might even bait a picturesque spot for a great shot of an animal.

The goal of a hunt in my book is to provide meat. So, do I use my wits and farming skills to provide meat or do I find natural food plots by which my quarry wanders?

I think we apply a human sense of fair play to a situation in which the animals have no such concept. It is ethical to minimize suffering with clean kills, but is it proper to apply my higher moral philosophy to an animal that will never experience those thoughts?

October 27, 2004, 11:09 PM
"Ethical" is not always easy to define, and depending on the issue, can be almost impossible for a group to arrive at a concensus on. In the end, I think ethical behavior comes down to doing what you feel is good and right.

For me, an integral part of hunting is the strategy involved in figuring out how to place myself where that critter I'm after is going to be. I study the land, read the sign, develop a stealthy, nondisruptive strategy, and go after him. Along the way, I continually gain experience, learning about the game and the land, and as a result I grow as a hunter and woodsman. With baiting, on the other hand, the hunter is attempting to alter the animal's movement patterns to bring it to him. To me, this takes the "hunting" out of it, and reduces it to waiting and shooting.

Food plots can be used for two puposes: herd management, and baiting. I think planting food crops to supply supplemental nutrition and increase the health and quality of resident game is an excellent idea. However, I don't much care for the practice of placing plots in strategic locations and hunting over them. This is baiting, pure and simple, and the tactic just doesn't appeal to me.

Calling and rattling can't realistically be compared to baiting. Calling is a direct tactical interaction with the animal that requires some skill and knowledge of it's behavior. Animals come to bait because they know it's there, and they generally approach with no more than their normal level of alertness. With calling, the animal is responding to a specific, unexpected stimuli, rather than a familiar destination like a bait station. They approach on high alert, and as a result of your active participation. The same may be said for scent attractants.

As for black bear, I understand the difficulty of locating the critter without the use of bait. This is at least partly why I've never felt the urge to hunt them.

Regarding the comparison made here between baiting game animals to baiting a fish hook: The basic methodology of the two sports is so completely different that the comparison is inapt. Fish are caught only when they've been successfully enticed to bite on the real or artificial bait used to retrieve them from the environment in which they live, into the vastly different environment from which we are pursuing them. In hunting, we must enter the game's environment, and the "catch" is made by launching projectiles. The successful fisherman absolutely must make the game aware of his terminal tackle, while the successful hunter must keep himself and his equipment undetected.

Like I said up top, ethics is ultimately a personal issue. This is how I feel about baiting personally, but I assure everyone I mean no offense to those who hold different views on the subject. This is a good topic for discussion, and I appreciate the opportunity to participate. Good hunting to all. I'm.....


October 31, 2004, 12:23 AM
To answer the question, Yes.
At least here in Alaska, baiting is legal only for black bears. It is also heavily regulated and managed. Bear baiting can only be done in the spring from April to June. The bait sites have to be registered with the ADF&G and the sites themselves have to be identified and posted w/ the hunter's information. Bait sites have to be at least a 1/4 mile from a roadway and a mile from any dwelling. At the end of the season the hunter must clean up the site and remove anything nature didn't put there.
Most bear baiters are bowhunters who ethically have to depend on a perfect presentation for a shot. You also have to remember that for most of the state black bears legally can be theoretically taken year round with a three to five bear limit.
Very few bears are taken in this manner since it requires a lot of work and not many people have the time to bait. Most black bears are taken as targets of opportunity during hunts for something else.

J. Scott
October 31, 2004, 09:31 AM
Up here in Maine bear is the only game animal were allowed to bait. This year it's on the ballot (tuesday) to ban the hunting of bear with bait and dogs. It's a hottly debated and fought over topic. IMO baiting takes the hunt out of it, after all don't we do this (hunting) for the hunt/stalk? for the meat also. We can lure deer with scent but thats all. I have never been bear hunting nor do I have any desire to go and I am sure they are elusive. I liken it to fishing, if you use a worm (bait) your gonna catch a fish, if you use a lure you may catch a fish, if you want a trout you better have the right lure. Only my opinion :) .

Good thread

November 2, 2004, 09:41 PM
Baiting for either deer or bear is leagal in Michigan. In some locations there are tomany deer and I want bow hunters to get a clear harvesting shoot and with bear baiting is one of 2 ways hunters have a chance to see a bear, so I agree with baiting. That said I personally don't care to use bait myself. I understand all the business about changing the deer's habits, buts its a level playing field as everyone may bait.

Double Naught Spy
November 3, 2004, 01:30 AM
Ethical to bait? That sort of depends on a variety of factors. If the hunted animal's meat is necessary as for for survival of the hunter, then the ethics don't really apply.

For other circumstances, what baiting does, in my opinion, is to remove the "hunt" aspect of hunting. Just because you shoot and animal doesn't make you a hunter. Shooting deer that come to a feeder is about as much hunting as would be shooting cattle.

If applied to military applications, baiting would be a way to set up an ambush or to draw out opponents to be sniped. While lots of folks shoot animals, many really aren't hunting, just sniping game drawn out into the open.

November 3, 2004, 08:24 AM
I dont hunt but when i ask people why they do, they always say it's time to get out with friends and get in the woods and try to stalk the deer, it's the whole hunting experience. You guys who use feeders are cheating the deer. Stop giving them food to lure them into your environment. Go find them in their natural environment, eating the natural foods supplied by nature, not by some farmer or yourself. If you dont get one, you dont get one. It's supposed to be about the whole experience. Not getting out of the city and going hunting for one day and slamming that deer. It's about getting away. Or supposidly that is what other people have told me the reason to go kill an unarmed animal is.
Crush this post if you want, but i just see no point in shooting at something that isn't going to harm you. Go take pictures of the darn things if you like them that much. And if it's because they are good to eat, the grocery store has many things which are good to eat also.

November 4, 2004, 08:38 PM
I think that this is one of those things which can be done in an ethical manner or an unethical manner, depending on circumstances. Like Art I agree that times have changed and like OutAtTheEdge I agree that herd management is a big consideration, especially as deer populations have skyrocketed.

the possum
November 11, 2004, 10:38 AM
I make no judgement on the practice itself, same as other methods of hunting such as driving. I'm sure baiting can be done in "good" or "bad" ways depending entirely upon the character of the people involved. Sound familiar?

Dan, I don't mean to be rude here, but if you don't like hunting why are you here? I figure by participating in on a hunting board you acknowledge that killing animals for a variety of reasons, including pure sport, is not a sin.

November 11, 2004, 11:56 PM
It's the determining difference between hunting and harvesting to me.

We'd harvest deer out of the fields when I grew up on the farm. That was simply nothing more than target shooting. It's not meant to give the animals a sporting chance and I don't recall any of us ever calling that hunting. We didn't hunt any of the other farm animals we ate either.

We did plenty of hunting though. This was the active pursuit of wild game through free chase, stalking, or whatever you want to call it. We'd do this for sport because it's fun, exciting, and challenging. It's far from a sure thing and requires one to develop skills beyond punching a hole in a target.

Ethics are in the eye of the beholder. I have some, they are mine, I don't go around imposing them on others and I don't think they make me superior to those who don't share them. To each his own, free country, and all that.

November 14, 2004, 03:59 AM
hey when i go out to do me some killin i like to know at the end of the day that i done my best and gave those vermin a run for their money. for me baitting takes all the sport out of it. but then again i like to eat it just as much as i like to hunt it, so maybe i would bait one site just to make sure i stocked the freezer every year. hehehe.

November 18, 2004, 12:41 PM
Moral reasoning is always going to be a personal thing. I don't consider myself a sport hunter. I hunt for meat. I like to eat it, its healthier than what I can buy, and with 5 kids, it makes a difference in terms of groceries. Fortunately I also thoroughly enjoy hunting. If I could legally improve my or my kids' chances of getting a deer or elk, I'd do it and not loose any sleep for doing so. Those hunters who want to increase the challenge...I take my hat off to them. To each thier own.

Don't worry too much about an animal becoming "dependent" on an artificial food source. Unless they are migratory and the artificial source keeps them from their migration, they'll do fine. They get around and and still know where to find the "natural" stuff.

November 20, 2004, 01:22 AM
I guess it depends on what your purpose is for hunting. We bait the hell out of our place to cull deer that the biologist says to cull. I still have a hard time killing all the does he wants taken out. I don't hunt to brag or to hang on a wall. I eat the meat reluctantly, and only hunt to improve the herd.

Now if you go kill a 120+ B&C eating under a feeder, I certainly wouldn't brag about your skill as a hunter. Good luck finding an unbaited deer in Texas though. Even if you don't have a feeder, chances are he's walking from one feeder to another when he crosses your path. Is that ethical? To sit on a path that the deer have beat down going to your neighbors' feeders?

December 7, 2004, 03:06 AM
I say do whatever works for you just as long as we hunt sustainably!!!

Double Naught Spy
December 7, 2004, 09:55 AM
If you don't bait the deer so that they will come in really close, how do you expect the drunk hunters to be able to shoot the deer?

December 11, 2004, 05:16 PM
How about just stop hunting, let the deer get out of control, then see who comes to who to solve the problem..............nope that wouldn't work...the gov would just send out the National Guard to mow'm down and dump the meat in the Gulf....bad idea....sorry I thought of it. :barf:

December 18, 2004, 02:36 PM
Reading this thread takes me back about 20 years when I was a young hunting guide on the Texas/Mexico border. I have sat and listened to clients vilify everything from timed feeders to smokeless powder.

One gentleman hunted with a single shot, open sighted rifle and was generally derisive of any hunter with a repeating rifle, even a bolt action. Repeaters weren't "fair".

Another refused to let me take him to a draw in the jeep.
Vehicles weren't "fair".

We had no feeders on the property, but sometimes I would bait a road with corn in the morning, hoping to get a shot in the afternoon. My father hated the practice, and said it wasn't "fair".

So here's the deal. Get out of bed in the morning and go hunting naked.
No boots; deer don't have them.
No drawers, not even a jockstrap.
No gun, no rifle, no knife, nothing.

Because the minute you manufacture cloth for those undies, or pick up a rock and start chipping at flint, you are using human intelligence, and beginning the long path up that leads to GPS, night vision, timed feeders, game cameras, and those horrible sacks of corn.

So, skivvies ain't "fair". :p