"Bayou Bill" Scifres
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Baiting Deer Is Still Illegal
Copyright © 2008 by Bill Scifres

With the gun deer season knocking on the door (Nov. 15-30) the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has warned potential gun hunters (bow hunters, too) that “Baiting deer is still illegal.”

Thus, we give you, the potential hunters of many critters, the DNR NEWS verbatim. It goes as follows:

With deer firearm hunting season just around the corner (Nov. 15-30), the DNR Division of Law Enforcement's conservation officers remind hunters that they will be watching for violators of the fair chase law, specifically as it applies to baiting.

Despite heavy commercial promotion on some hunting television shows, extensive sales of such products at some sporting goods stores, and evidence of the use of some of these products on some DNR properties, baiting for the purposes of hunting deer remains illegal. "Bait" is best described as anything a deer (or other wildlife) might ingest or lick.

"It has been a long standing practice for our officers to enforce the hunting over bait rule," said Lt. Mark Farmer, public information officer for DNR Law Enforcement. "Gaining an advantage over your quarry by the use of a food or mineral product is illegal." 

It is legal to place food products or mineral blocks in the wild, but hunting near them is illegal. 

"If a person had put out a feeder or other bait during the summer months to attract wildlife to his property, it must be totally removed 10 days prior to the opening of the hunting season before a hunter could legally hunt in that area," Farmer said.

Odor differs from bait. Deer lures in the form of scents are legal to use when hunting. 

"Basically, if you place corn, apples, salt or mineral blocks or anything that isn't grown in the area and hunt there, it's illegal," Farmer said. "Hunting from an apple tree is legal, but placing apples under your tree stand would place you in conflict with current Indiana Law." 

Violators apprehended while hunting over bait will face a Class C Misdemeanor charge, and upon conviction could face criminal penalties of up to $500 fine, 60 days incarceration and possible loss of hunting equipment upon conviction.  

MY TAKE:  Basically, the DNR handout is good information. Every hunter should read and heed. But it doesn’t go quite far enough to please me.

Several years ago I became aware that “baiting” wild animals for the purpose of luring them to a place where a hunter would, in some manner, harvest them. So I checked with the Midwest regional office of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service at St. Paul, Minnesota.

Here, basically, is what they told me, and what I used in a column:

If the so-called “bait” is placed somewhere (anywhere) by a normal operation of a farm, this is not deemed bait. It is legally huntable.

For example, let’s just say that several of the Colts football team are handed their release, a road map, and a sack of apples and bid adieu (as they probably should). In their hasty exodus they chance to pass my deer stand and lose several golden delicious apples (my favorite), but by the time I get there, Bambi (with horns . . . actually antlers) has discovered the smorgasbord and is leading a troupe of his friends to the fruit under my deer stand.

Not knowing the apples are there in the falling leaves, I buckle my full body safety harness and climb into my ladder stand without accident. But as Bambi and friends approach, I suddenly discover the apples.

THE QUESTION: Can I legally shoot?

THE ANSWER: Of course, I can. The apples were put there by accident, just like grain spills and hundreds of other accidents. Maybe this thinking needs to be revised.

On the other hand, if those former Colts, realizing that I have “this thing” for golden delicious, throw out some goodies for me as a parting gesture, and to help me scragg a wall hanger, this is a strict “NO-NO.”

Without regard to the species you are hunting, baiting is baiting.

Yep! I would have to say baiting regulations need to be rethought.

All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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