What roles do feeders/baiting play into your overall habitat and hunting strategy?
I have friends in TX that hunt feeders successfully, I have friends in KS that run food year long for health and hunting but don't hunt feeders, I have heard all sorts of opinions about feeders in Ohio, and this is where my specific query comes from. I really know nothing about baiting but theories with everything from "you need them", to "your neighbor has two, so you have to have them", to "gravity only""or ground spread" for bucks.....so on and so forth.....
I’ve tried it. It just doesn’t work. You might get a yearling buck or two under one early season. You will get a doe or two under you. But, the first deer that figures out that lingering human smell now comes with bad intentions, you are done.
You’ve seen the reactions of prey around predators. Sometimes they intermingle like they are buds. But, let the predator start thinking about hunting the prey, and it’s on. The prey animals know when they are being hunted. EVERYTIME. Hunting over a feeder is no different.
That’s just my experience. If it were me, I’d increase habitat quality and increase year round food plots to concentrate deer. And leave the baiting alone. It has far worse impacts than good on a hunting area.
This is assuming you don’t live in an extremely dry or frigid environment.
I would give you my 40 years of supplemental feeding in Texas but I see that Texans are disqualified
I have a good client in Pittsburgh Pa that used to lease in West Virginia and killed nice bucks over feeders Different experience than WV. He now leases in Ohio and kills really big deer and none of them are over feeders, even though he has them running all year.
At home in East Texas I grow food plots, but there’s a feeder there also. The feeder brings the does, and sometimes the bucks. We have lots of thick cover here, unlike Central Texas, and my plots are mostly about 80/90 yards long and 40 yards wide. Bucks feel a little more secure in this setting, but you still ain’t gonna have a bunch of mature bucks hitting that feeder, or the plot for that matter. Small properties don’t bode well for QDM so my goal is a 3.5 year old buck or better. That’s pretty realistic where I hunt.
I’m sure it works. But, hassling around all the bear problems to hopefully shoot a deer that’s going to react severely to your string, isn’t a successful venture. That’s deer baiting in southern WV. And I have trail cam pics forcing me to feel this way.
On hand generated feed, I often get a night tone pic of the most mature deer in that area. The first or second nights its out. To never get a pic of those deer again. Ever on a camera over a feeder. Not once.
MOST IMPORTANTLY- I have nothing against Texas/Texans/etc...(hence the start with "I have friends in Texas..."). Had a few sentences chopped up with formatting.
Anyway; PSA/Public Apology for my horrid post but I think it is in order now, both making more sense and not slandering anyone.
I have 75 ac in south east Ohio hill country on the edge of a small city. Not much for ag, with the nearest being about a mile in any direction. There are lots of oaks everywhere but browse is somewhat a lesser species. No food plots for a mile or so other than mine. Knowing that some of the neighbors and a outfitter a little ways away run corn... am I at a loss for mature deer not doing it? I know you cant kill what isn't there but is not having a feeder limiting him from being there unless he calls my area home? That's where the logic for the original question is coming from...
I use protein feeders on my farm for supplements but I also don’t hunt around them. I’m not saying I’m against it if legal either.
I saw a video once from a guy in i believe Michigan. He had LOTS of deer and some HUGE bucks. The biggest bucks NEVER came to the feeder to eat. They would visit close but never came to eat and we're talking conditions (below zero and 2' of snow) where they had to want to but didn't. The does and young bucks ate at will.
For guys on here that eschew the thought of baiting (I'm with you) but the environment GJS4 is in, is the same environment Goyt, Pat and I are in (with many more I'm unaware of) on our farms in Ohio, currently a bait legal state.
My $02 - It's an additional draw. Think of corn as "Golden Acorns", that only drop when and where you want them to.
If you hunt a white oak ridge poorly when real acorns are dropping you'll see similar results - as WVM states, "You’ve seen the reactions of prey around predators. Sometimes they intermingle like they are buds. But, let the predator start thinking about hunting the prey, and it’s on. The prey animals know when they are being hunted. EVERYTIME. Hunting over a feeder is no different."
On a Ohio specific forum there's a thread that details how to kill a mature buck over a feeder: You have to copy and paste don't know how to insert a link on this one.
Not really P&Y fair chase and not real sporting but it can happen, if you have mature bucks in your area and follow the formula in the link above. Which brings me to another point. I'm betting based on my 45 years of hunting in Ohio 85%-95% of hunters who bait in Ohio do it poorly or wrong, if their outcome is kill a mature buck over a feeder. They leave scent, hunt the wrong winds, spook deer off the feeder, put the feeder in the wrong place, etc... Meaning that if your neighbors bait but hunt it poorly the mature bucks will know and not hit them in daylight... if you have mature bucks in the neighborhood.
Adding Golden Acorns, or any draw, to your property in a way that complements mature buck travel routes to your food plots associated with the topography and you stands and access to stands (they can't see, hear or smell you) isn't a good or bad thing - it's how you incorporate it into your plan that'll make the difference.
I will add there is MARKED difference in mature bucks patterns and travel while hunting them pre-rut, during the rut and post rut. That all plays into my hunting calculus as a distant land-owner. Which WTD behavior (Pre/Rut/Post) can I hunt/do I want to hunt based on my trail cams and observations leading up to that specific hunting season. The change in 10 years I've been managing my farm has been stark. 2017-2021 were great for Pre-Rut (local mature bucks in daylight on the property) Last year I didn't capture a mature buck on cams or see one until the rut.
Hope this helps in some way.
That said I do run feeders on my place and I get good deer on the piles. I do hunt on them sometimes if I can get them patterned and have shot a couple doing so but I also hunt spots without corn. Typically I take my little brother out to shoot a doe or two
To me a hunting a bait pile is no different than sitting on a small “kill plot” but to each their own, I’ve got nothing against how anyone hunts as long as it’s legal
To me and like almost all deer based experiences, it is more of a regional thing. That was what I was trying to mutter in my initial post before starting a war with the Lone Star state.
My current perceptions- It is hard to factor baiting/feeding for folks who don't have it legal to them. Stating this for myself first and foremost. Baiting and Feeding aren't the same. Corn and protein feed aren't the same. Reactions differ with these factors. Baiting and/or feeding will affect the herd. Hunting over bait or feed may be a tactic in some areas, and for year round dinner plates, but doesn't appear to be the best strategy in most areas. There is nothing cheap, easy or convenient about baiting or feeding. It seems (via Lays chips)- Once you start you can't stop... Most folks use the opportunity where legal.
Great learning thus far....
If you hunt under oaks dropping acorns you’re hunting bait. Same with food plots. Same hunting lopes at a water hole. Same if you duped a bull elk into thinking he’s gonna score some tail. Same if you are hunting a rub line or scrape.
So, we are back to the stone axe and loincloth. All this technology that we ALL use to kill a deer makes no damn difference to a dead deer. You have a finite number of tags, use them as you see fit within the law and stop looking down your nose at the other guy. This is not directed at anyone in particular, and certainly not the OP. As your grade school teacher probably said……you know who you are ! ;-)
Sitting on private property where the trails come together fifty yards from a food plot or ag field is called patterning.
To each their own, whatever gets people outdoors and in the woods works for me. I’m not here to judge anyone for how they feel is the best way to fill their freezer.
To you it may be flawed to me both guys are sitting over food, as I stated earlier, to each their own.
A guy has an opposing view and you guys start flipping out lol feels like I’m talking to a bunch of liberals.
Yes I hunt over corn if I get multiple pictures of a nice deer visiting it. Why would I not ? I also hunt public land where you cannot bait at all, hunt other states where baiting isn’t allowed, and still have success.
Like I said to each their own. Don’t like bait ? Don’t hunt with it. If you like it and it’s legal then hunt with it. It’s as simple as that.
One of those was shot on corn, in Oklahoma, which is legal on private land, which I was on. As stated I had multiple pictures of him on the corn pile for a week or two around the same time every evening, aka “pattern”. Here he is on said corn pile.
I also shot my antelope sitting in a blind over a water hole, so we can add him to my list of trained animals if you like
I hope OK eliminates baiting one day, until then yes it's legal...but it sure as heck ain't hunting. Pretty sure you know the difference.