John C. from West Virginia writes to ask about baiting. “It seems that everyone is baiting now in West Virginia. I hear from the Midwest that baiting helps spread chronic wasting disease. Also, I believe that big bucks just don’t come to bait all that much. Finally, I feel that kids just don’t learn many hunting skills when they hunt over bait for deer. My state is now considering a baiting ban during the hunting season. What do you think about baiting?”
First, the bottom line is that more and more folks are baiting, and yes, it definitely helps spread chronic wasting disease. We now know that contact with urine and feces of infected deer, leads to spread of that disease. So, the wildlife agency in West Virginia is doing the right thing. Some day, when CWD does get to West Virginia, they will then have to stop baiting. Doing it now is a step in the right direction, but hunters will not like it.
A new study out of South Carolina shows that in that state, the part of the state with baiting has lower harvest rates than the part of the state without baiting. I find that very interesting. And, I concur. Big bucks are less likely to come to bait sites where there is fair hunting pressure, except during the night.
In short, I am not a fan of baiting deer. The negatives far outweigh the positives.
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Dr. Dave writes a weekly column for sportsmansguide.com. Dr. Dave studied deer for 30 years as a wildlife management professor at West Virginia University. In addition he has been a bowhunter for over 40 years, with deer being his main prey. He’s also an outdoor writer and has been with “Bowhunter” magazine for 31 years.