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Mississippi Hunters Can Bait Deer…or Maybe Not!

April 3rd, 2008

The state senate of Mississippi has passed a bill making it legal to hunt deer over bait by a narrow margin (25-24).  The state House has also passed the bill (68-51), so now it is on to the governor’s desk.  The problem is that the governor has already promised to veto the bill if it made it to his desk.

Though I haven’t really been following it, it seems that this has been a hot issue in Mississippi…maybe some of my readers from down there can jump in and help me out on understanding all of the intricacies of the issue as it has developed down that way.

It appears that just a year ago, the state gave the DNR the right to decide if baiting would be legal or not.  But, this year, they have jumped the gun and tried to push through legislation that would make the practice of baiting legal.  I suspect that this is at the heart of the issue as to why the governor would veto the bill when it makes it to his desk.  It seems that this move would make the law passed just last year insignificant–going around the law to institute something that was already taken care of.  It seems like they should have just legislated it how they wanted it last year!

I know that baiting can be a hot topic among deer hunters, much like other significant issues (high fence hunting, dog hunting, etc.)  But, as I was reading this article on the Commercial Dispatch Online, I was struck by one of the statements made toward the end of the article.  Quoting from the article:

When questioned about the practice of hunting deer over food, House Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Chairman Bo Eaton, D-Taylorsville, responded: “It’s all about ethics. If you feel like it’s unethical, then don’t do it.”

I think a lot of hunters spend time arguing over what is ethical, and what is not.  What we should focus on is what is LEGAL.  If a practice is legal, then it is really up to the individual whether or not he or she sees it as ethical.  I may decide not to hunt behind high fence, but if it is legal, I am not going to bash someone else who does it.  The same is true for baiting, hunting with dogs, or hunting with crossbows.  If I don’t like one of those practices, even though it is legal, I don’t have to participate!  That quote makes a lot of sense, and really should help us to see the approach we should take to many of these controversial, but legal issues.

So, what is your take on baiting deer?  It is legal here in WV, and we do have a couple of feeders set up.  What I would say is that we have harvested very few deer because of the feeders.  Most of us don’t hunt near them, as they are generally near the road (we don’t have a 4 wheeler to carry the feed into the feeders).  I will hunt near one a couple of times during bow season, but that is about all.  I know in the south they are used more, especially where there are no open fields.  I have hunted some places where there was little chance of getting a shot at an animal because the cover was so thick.  I can certainly understand using feeders in those situations to try and draw out some animals from the underbrush.

So, what do you do?  Tell us your take, especially if you are from Mississippi–how will this debate affect you and your hunting style?

3 Responses to “Mississippi Hunters Can Bait Deer…or Maybe Not!”

  1. I don’t like the thought of baiting (to me that means spreading food just to attract the deer to a particular spot during hunting season and is illegal here) however I wouldn’t have a problem hunting near a feeder that we left out year round (except of course that it is illegal here) – or over a food plot (this is legal). So basically I don’t think there is anything ethically wrong with hunting near a food supply, I do however think it is unethical to only put feed out in the hopes of killing whatever comes to it during season.

  2. I like the quote too. If you don’t think it’s right, don’t do it but don’t spend so much time fretting about what other people do.

    Baiting is very illegal here (I know a guy who got caught and lost his hunting license for a year.) From what I’ve seen and heard from guys who do it despite it’s illegal nature, spreading corn or using a feeder is a good way to guarantee you’ll see deer but doesn’t seem to greatly increase the chance of seeing a big buck.

    All in all, I’d rather it stay illegal but wouldn’t lose any sleep over it if baiting was legalized.

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