Baiting in Michigan

After a three year hiatus, baiting in Michigan is legal for the 2011 hunting season.  For those that don't know, the ban was enacted three years ago after a scare with a deer on a private farm.  The deer was found to have contracted a disease called chronic wasting disease.

Chronic wasting disease is a very serious issue and one that shouldn't be taken lightly.  In other states, entire herds of deer have been wiped out by the disease.  Many experts believe that chronic wasting disease spreads faster when the practicing of baiting is allowed.

The logic is that the deer are so close to each other on a bait-pile that the odds of passing on the disease increases.  However, many hunters disagree.  They say that deer are always in close proximity so if the disease is going to spread... it is going to spread.

Fortunately for Michigan hunters, after three years, no other deer were found to have the disease.  Because of this fact, during the summer of 2011, the state of Michigan decided to lift the ban.  Michigan hunters are allowed to bait again.  Hunters can put out up to two gallons of bait making sure to spread the bait out over a ten foot by ten foot area.

Most people love to complain about the state but I believe they got this one right.  I supported the ban initially but if the ban was because of the CWD scare and 0 deer were found to have the disease, the ban needed to be lifted.

Now that the bait ban has been lifted, does that mean a monster buck is a done deal?  Not in the least bit.  To get a chance at a monster buck, hunters still need to do the right things in the woods.

One of the side effects of baiting is that the deer become nocturnal.  Think about it.  If all you had to do in life was eat, sleep and rut, when would you come out to eat?  When a thousand camouflaged crazies where in the woods or when they were home eating dinner?

If you were starving for food, you might take your chances with the armed mob but bait-pile deer don't have to worry about that.  They can come and go at dark.  This is why it is extremely important to not put your stand right over the bait pile.  If you decide to put your stand over the food source, you better like shooting does.

I am sure it has happened before but most monster bucks are usually not taken right on top of a bait pile.  This is why hunters need to put their stands on a travel route to the pile and hope to ambush a late arrival to the party.

Another positive of putting your stand on a travel route is not spooking the deer when you leave the hunt.  Most of the time, while hunting over a bait pile, a doe party will be on right at dark.  If you decide not to take a doe, you better be in stealth mode if you want to slip out undetected.

I have made this mistake before.  My thinking was...  I haven't saw any bucks so who cares if these does get spooked.  This is a bad move... what do you think the odds are that a buck or two is watching the action?  If a buck notices a hunter spook a deer, you just helped educate him on when not to be in the area.

A doe I shot in 2007 coming to a bait pile
The last piece of advice about baiting in Michigan is to use real bait.  A lot of hunting shows push the use of products like deer cocaine or something similar to it.  These products seem to work during the early season but their allure seem to fade away around October 15th.  Deer do not need as many minerals after this date.  It is more important for them to find real food.

Popular real baits are anything that will give the deer a challenge.  You do not want to put out something that a deer will devour in one night.  Food types that fit this bill include sugar beets, apples, and carrots.  When using these foods, make sure to experiment.  What works in one area might not work in another.  The deer on the property that I hunt love carrots.  However, my father-in law hunts within thirty miles of where I hunt and the carrots he puts out will sit and rot. 

If you are going to try baiting in Michigan this year, try remembering some of the tips from this article.  Hopefully, they will help you get a shot at a memory of a lifetime.

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