Wildlife - Deer Information

A Retrospective on Hunting Deer Over Bait in South Carolina - Can Baiting Negatively Affect Hunter Success and Deer Harvest Rates?

Social or Public Relations Issues

Due to changes in deer movements, distribution, and behavior, baiting impacts adjacent landowners or clubs as the deer resource is unnaturally "partitioned." This is particularly the case where small land ownerships are dominant such as in the Piedmont.

When baiting occurs in an area, hunters feel that they must bait in order to have any expectation of seeing deer on their property. This "baiting in self-defense" creates hostilities between adjacent landowners and among hunters, even hunters utilizing the same property.

Similarly, many hunters believe that they can make any piece of property a good deer hunting tract if they can bait. This mind set devalues the skills and challenges inherent in hunting because rather than the hunter hunting the deer, the roles become reversed as the deer hunts the hunter. It becomes only a matter of buying bait, having some place to put it, and being a good shot. The traditional aspects of developing hunting skills and woodsmanship, as well as, an intimate knowledge of the habitat and the animal's habits, are no longer part of the equation with bait.

Complaints are frequent about individuals using bait to "draw" deer onto small properties and in-holdings within larger tracts.14 These properties typically lack suitable deer habitat, however, deer are often harvested at disproportionately high rates, often at the expense and frustration of neighboring landowners who have expended effort and expense on a traditional deer and habitat management program.

Baiting for deer has created situations in South Carolina where dove and turkey hunting could not be allowed because the area was considered "baited" for these activities.15 In these situations, the hunter(s) and SCDNR are placed in difficult situations. Further, it could be argued that legal baiting for deer (which attracts turkeys) may "lead" some hunters to consider or practice illegal baiting for turkeys in order to prevent the turkeys from leaving their property.