The Michigan Natural Resources Commission voted early last month to lift the current deer baiting and feeding ban in the state's Lower Peninsula. The ban had been in effect since 2008, when Chronic Wasting Disease was found in a deer in a private facility.
The ban has certainly required adjustments on behalf of some hunters but for others caused little to change. Deer baiting in Michigan has always been a controversial issue. There were people happy to see baiting banned, and there will no doubt be people glad to see the ban lifted.
Personally, I don't have a problem with baiting. While it does have a way of taking some of the sport out of a hunt, it also usually provides hunters with opportunities to make a closer, more humane kill.
There is also the business side to baiting. When the bait ban went into effect late in the summer of 2008, most farmers had already planted their fields and devoted resources toward producing feed crops to be used for deer bait. When you think about the losses the farmers sustained in 2008 and combine that with the tough start to this growing season, you can't help but feel a little sense of justice that they'll once again be able to sell bait to supplement their incomes.
I also feel that the NRC needs some credit for their decision. Like I said earlier, many people would have been happy to see the bait ban made permanent. It took some fortitude to reinstate baiting in the quickest time period allowed by law. Once CWD was found in that Kent County deer, the baiting ban was mandatory for three years.
The NRC also saw fit to implement new rules on baiting to ensure we wouldn't be going back to the days when you could dump a truckload of carrots or sugar beets into a field and wait for the cavalcade of deer to show up. The new rules will allow hunters to bait in limited quantities, no more than two gallons at a time across a 10-foot by 10-foot area per hunting location, from Oct. 1 to Jan. 1.