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Deer Hunting? You Need to Know About These U.S. Baiting Laws

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As an avid hunter, you probably know some of the controversy surrounding deer baiting. This is the practice of leaving large mounds of feeding material, like corn or grain, to attract deer to a hunting area. Sometimes large salt licks are used, or even fruits and vegetables. Many people feel like this is a lazy way to hunt and doesn’t follow the rules of “fair chase.” There are nearly 12 million people in the United States alone who practice “sport hunting.”

Deer baiting is also illegal in a number of states. Michigan is the latest state to ban deer baiting across most of the state, with this being the first hunting season to kick off without it being allowed. Deer season in Michigan starts on October 1st, with bow hunters being allowed to get out there for first dibs. The firearm season for hunting there starts on November 15th and runs for two weeks.

Most Conservation Clubs Support the Ban

Most conservation clubs and the Michigan Farm Bureau also are in favor of the ban. Some people that don’t support the ban feel that this might take away from some of the tourism that hunting brings to the area in the fall months. There are some numbers to support the fact that hunting in Michigan is a two billion dollar a year money maker for the state.

Even Ted Nugent, the rockstar and famously outspoken Second Amendment supporter, testified in a hearing recently to overturn the ban because it is a “ruination of our hunting heritage.” He feels strongly about the issue being from Michigan and a long-standing hunter.

According to a survey done in 2017, around half of the hunters in Michigan used deer baiting as part of their hunting season.

One of the Biggest Reasons for the Ban

The spread of disease among elk and deer is one of the problems with deer baiting, since it encourages them to interact in order to obtain the food left by hunters. The specific disease is called “chronic wasting disease” and for CWD it means a neurological attack on their systems that can cause brain dysfunction, loss of weight, and bodily functions for the elk and deer. It’s highly contagious among the animals and scientists don’t currently have a cure for treatment. So, prevention to keep the deer and elk population healthy is important with the ban on deer baiting as a part of that initiative.

28 States Have Similar Bans on Deer Baiting

Michigan isn’t alone in their ban on deer baiting. 28 states have similar regulations in place for the entire state or in certain parts of it. There are also a few Canadian provinces that don’t allow it as well.

So, before you head out to hunt deer this season, it pays to understand the laws in each state. If you violate the laws in an area, you can lose your hunting license, face jail time, and get a pretty heavy fine.


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