The bait debate for deer hunting - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

The bait debate for deer hunting

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - A Wisconsin tradition is a work in progress with one issue being a debate about bait.

As part of a recent deer trustee report teams were created to survey the public on several things, to review the results click on these blue words.

Some questions focused on baiting deer. 

The majority of those who responded to the survey want restrictions on baiting.

"You don't see anything unless you've got something out there to attract them," says hunter Arlen Stuber.

One of the easiest methods to do this is by using a bait pile.

"For deer it's primarily used as a hunting tool to attract deer within bow range or rifle range," says DNR wildlife biologist John Dunn.

"If they're hunting public lands some people use bait piles there because they don't have as good a food source as a neighboring property," says Mouldy's Archery manager Will Moulton.

But the majority of those responding to a deer trustee survey want baiting restricted allowing it for special hunts only like for those with disabilities in state approved bait zones.

"There are places in the state where you cannot bait or feed.  Those are areas that have had CWD positive deer," says Dunn.

Because chronic wasting disease is believed to spread by deer sharing bait piles with other infected deer, leading many hunters who have the extra land to use a completely different approach to attract the racks.

"The food plots are nice if you have a 40-acre piece of land and you can put in a couple half acre food plots and hunt over an alfalfa field or soybean field or corn, that's ideal," says Moulton.

They're also not limited by the two-gallon daily quota for baiting or the seasonal restrictions.

"Food plots are really considered an agricultural activity and food plots are not regulated by any of the feeding or baiting regulations," says Dunn.

"I haven't had real good luck hunting on bait piles, but it's enjoyable watching the other deer, everything else that comes around," says Stuber.

Leaving it up to hunters to decide if bait is the best approach to snagging a new mount for their wall this fall.

Even though those deer trustee survey results show hunters want to limit bait usage in the deer hunt, the DNR won't be making any changes, because they only enforce baiting laws.

Legislation would have to be drafted to make a change to the state's bait rules outside of chronic wasting disease zones.

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