Saturday, September 20, 2014

Baiting Deer

In some quarters, few topics will get hunters into a lather quicker than the topic of "baiting deer".

Again' it

On one side of the issue are the purist who believe that hunting should be a near out-of-body experience where we forge kinship with our ancestors and the ghosts of the Native American who wander the land at the crevice in time between NIGHT and LIGHT.  Lovers of the hunt know this mystical hour as "Deer-thirty".

The purists claim that it is that path, not the destination that nourishes us.  It is the hunt, not the kill that makes us hunters.

They point to diseases spread by snot-nosed deer rubbing their pathogens on the tottering piles of soggy, rotten sugar beets.

They point to noble, wild animals being reduced to common drunks by the lure of cubic yards of rich foods.  That is not fair chase, they cry.

"Why not go to the zoo and pot Bambi?" they snidely ask.

Fer it

Those who bait will often dismiss the objections of those who are against baiting.  In the baiter's mind it is easy to be against baiting if you inherited a membership in a high-fence deer club where professional property managers have been grooming the property for the last sixty years.  Those who live in the Garden of Eden have little need for sandwiches purchased from vending machines nor with those who eat such things.

The fellow who purchased 10.01 acres of property at the outer edge of suburbia so he could have some place to hunt, nay, any place to hunt makes a compelling case for baiting.  He bought his 10.01 acres where it was offered.  There are not very many parcels offered that are that large.  The chances of that 10.01 acres being outstanding deer habitat are vanishingly small.  Would the purist be willing to sit in a deer stand and stare at a swale filled with Reed Canary Grass every day of deer season for fifteen years.  And. Not. See. A. Single. Deer?

Is there a middle ground


I once worked with a guy nicknamed Dave Nohammer.  Dave was not much of a worker but a heck of a deer hunter.  Any factory of modest size will have several Dave Nohammers.

The Dave Nohammer theory of baiting is that you never want to put down more than a double-handful (a bit less than a quart or a liter) of bait in any one place.  He said, "Think about it.  If you pile fifty bushel of corn on the ground, those deer aren't stupid.  They will show up at night and eat themselves silly.  Then they will sleep all day.  You will never see those deer."

See all the little corners of cover poking out into fields.  A double handful of shelled corn at each corner 15 yards from that cover will really move the deer.  So will a handful of corn in a few places along those fence rows.

He said, "Just think about this a little bit.  You cannot hardly see deer if they are not moving.  The way to get them to move is to train them to move from one little bait pile to the next.  When you put out just a little bit the first deer to the bait can eat it all.  The latecomers can smell the corn that was there.  Makes them mad.

Suppose your were to find a line of cover like a drainage ditch running across a section, or suppose you had a couple of hundred acres of brushy swamp holding deer (picture).  If you put a couple handfuls of corn just a little ways out from the cover, no more than 15 yards (heck, five yards would be better)....and you had a line of these bait piles with a pile every 200 yards or so....why pretty soon those deer will be racing each other from pile to pile.  They sure as heck won't be waiting for the middle of the night." 

"You have to start a few weeks early.  And you cannot get lazy.  A double handful.  No more.  You don't need to refresh it every day but you better figure on at least every other day.  People get lazy.  They just want to dump one big pile of corn, beets or carrots and be done with it.  All they do is hurt themselves."

If you are going to bait, then do it right.  Little bait piles means no nose-to-nose snot transmission.  Little piles are not aesthetically in-your-face to people who are antihunting.  Little bait piles don't pervert wild animals into zoo animals.

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