Mathews Inc.
Baiting or Food plot?
Whitetail Deer
Contributors to this thread:
Mike Ukrainetz 10-Dec-23
scentman 10-Dec-23
molsonarcher 10-Dec-23
WV Mountaineer 10-Dec-23
Candor 10-Dec-23
Bowfreak 11-Dec-23
Buckdeer 11-Dec-23
sitO 11-Dec-23
wildwilderness 11-Dec-23
wildwilderness 11-Dec-23
sitO 11-Dec-23
fuzzy 11-Dec-23
x-man 11-Dec-23
fuzzy 11-Dec-23
goyt 11-Dec-23
Grey Ghost 11-Dec-23
KSflatlander 11-Dec-23
KSflatlander 11-Dec-23
Thornton 11-Dec-23
Jimmyjumpup 11-Dec-23
Ziek 11-Dec-23
Juancho 11-Dec-23
Missouribreaks 12-Dec-23
fuzzy 12-Dec-23
KHNC 12-Dec-23
fuzzy 12-Dec-23
SteveB 12-Dec-23
Corax_latrans 12-Dec-23
steve 12-Dec-23
Candor 12-Dec-23
WV Mountaineer 12-Dec-23
sitO 12-Dec-23
WV Mountaineer 12-Dec-23
WV Mountaineer 12-Dec-23
gjs4 13-Dec-23
fuzzy 13-Dec-23
drycreek 13-Dec-23
x-man 13-Dec-23
Grey Ghost 13-Dec-23
Groundhunter 13-Dec-23
Buckdeer 13-Dec-23
sitO 13-Dec-23
KHNC 13-Dec-23
Hancock West 13-Dec-23
RK 13-Dec-23
sitO 13-Dec-23
Cazador 13-Dec-23
RK 13-Dec-23
drycreek 13-Dec-23
Candor 13-Dec-23
sitO 13-Dec-23
Grey Ghost 13-Dec-23
t-roy 13-Dec-23
WV Mountaineer 13-Dec-23
drycreek 13-Dec-23
bigswivle 13-Dec-23
Missouribreaks 13-Dec-23
bigswivle 13-Dec-23
APauls 13-Dec-23
fuzzy 13-Dec-23
caribou77 14-Dec-23
GFL 14-Dec-23
GFL 14-Dec-23
10-Dec-23
With all of the arguing on bowsite about baiting and food plots I was wondering which is best for killing a big deer? In the Midwest USA some states allow baiting and some don’t but all of them allow planting food plots for deer.

Do you think it’s easier to kill a big buck, let’s say the most mature buck for the area, over a food plot or a bait pile? And which area will have the biggest deer, a non bait or a bait state?

(I’m from Alberta, Canada and we can’t bait for deer and food plotting specifically for deer hunting is very rare, grey area for being legal.)

From: scentman
10-Dec-23
Up Der in Saskatchewan ey their killing some brutes over bait, at least on some hunting shows... I mean even hay piles are bait right? I figure, feed em good they taste good... but legally. scentman

From: molsonarcher
10-Dec-23
IME here in Ohio, most that own ground do both. Some to a very large extent also, in as much as I know several that spend many thousands on food plots, but double that on bait and mineral sites. The deer on those places are never hungry, and on the larger parcels pretty much never leave.

If Ohio had the hunter numbers that Iowa did, we could most definitely keep pace if not beat the quality of deer killed there.

Either situation could produce the bigger deer IMO. I really think thats a wash. The hunter numbers is the big factor, IMO.

10-Dec-23
i think it all depends on how you hunt them. big bucks can be taken over both.

as to your second question...with all other things being equal i think a non baiting state will produce more mature deer because people who hunt over bait tend to be less selective.

10-Dec-23
In WV, bait piles educate the deer. Yes, there are some mature deer killed here over them. Rarely is that deer a mature buck.

Good plot all the way.

From: Candor
10-Dec-23
In the southeast:

Big deer do not like to venture out into open areas. Not like I’ve experienced elsewhere. Bait piles can be placed near bedding and cover. Allowing big deer to stay in a comfortable vertical cover.

I also think Trail cams are a factor in that people can put a bait pile out and get pictures of any deer that actually hits the bait. Whereas the same is less likely true for a plot. Which allows someone to really focus their effort on a bait pile that may be drawing a good deer. Whereas a plot that is drawing a good deer, they may never get a picture of or have very few pictures of that good buck.

From: Bowfreak
11-Dec-23
I know a few guys who have killed good bucks over bait, but it is normally in September and not later in the year. Baiting is good for hammering does, but for bucks >1.5 yrs old I don't think it is the best option.

From: Buckdeer
11-Dec-23
I agree I will get 10 pics of mature deer in food plot compared to 1 at a feeder during daylight and barely any difference after dark.The right food plot or even a scrape has more mature bucks

From: sitO
11-Dec-23
First off, be glad that Alberta doesnt allow baiting, it's welfare for the deer and the so called "hunter".

The number of "big deer" killed over bait piles far exceeds those over food plots. It's simple math, the overwhelming majority of folks don't and won't take the time to plant a food plot. It's far easier to dump a pile, and train an animal to come to a certain 5'x5' spot in any setting. People are weak, and weak people need easy buttons.

11-Dec-23
sitO must be so strong doesn’t need a bait pile.

Plenty of people use bait where legal and don’t where not legal. I guess sitO judges people off of corn :)

11-Dec-23
Also the most effective method is putting your bait pile or feeder in your food plot! Deer will move by as they feed

From: sitO
11-Dec-23
"Plenty of people use bait"... but they aren't hunters. There I fixed it for ya.

From: fuzzy
11-Dec-23
Baiting is good for killing lots of young deer, food plots are good for killing deer legally and hunting is good for killing mature deer

From: x-man
11-Dec-23
I am going to disagree with some of the above comments. Although I must admit I've never done either...

Most mature bucks seem to be the most vulnerable during the rut. My logic would lend me to attracting the most does possible in order to attract the big bucks. Bait piles seem like they should attract does correct? Why then would that not translate into better opportunities for big bucks?

From: fuzzy
11-Dec-23
X man, primarily because the bait piles are still there in the dark

From: goyt
11-Dec-23
I think that a lot of it has to do with how many people bait in the area. If you are the only one baiting for a mile or two in any direction, then the deer including mature bucks have not been trained to avoid bait during daylight hours. If you only shoot mature bucks off of your bait and no one else is baiting, I think that you could do well putting out 600-1,200#s of bait with a cell camera.

From: Grey Ghost
11-Dec-23
I know a few hunters who kill big bucks over bait piles in KS almost every year. Ironically, one of them also advocates making baiting illegal in a different state where he owns property with big food plots.

Matt

From: KSflatlander
11-Dec-23
LMAO

From: KSflatlander
11-Dec-23
DP

From: Thornton
11-Dec-23
WV Mountaineer I will actually disagree with you on that. Entire operations in KS rely on baiting to kill thousands of large bucks every year. My neighbor killed a 167" this year over a feeder and his relative killed a 156".

From: Jimmyjumpup
11-Dec-23
I agree with Mountaineer. Baiting here in WV where legal makes the bucks go nocturnal. They may hit the bait but it is at night. The county where I hunt we can't bait. And the people that use food plots have good luck early and later in the season. Most bucks won't hit those either until after dark.

From: Ziek
11-Dec-23
I think the biggest difference is the amount of work that goes into each method.

From: Juancho
11-Dec-23
I bait in Ontario, legally.

12-Dec-23
"I know a few hunters who kill big bucks over bait piles in KS almost every year. Ironically, one of them also advocates making baiting illegal in a different state where he owns property with big food plots."

i think they call that "nimby."

years ago there was a prominent traditional bowhunter that railed and railed about how unethical hunting bears over bait was.

then he wrote an article about how he shot an elk...quartered and packed out the meat...and then proceeded to shoot a bear over the remaining carcass a couple days later.

go figure...

12-Dec-23
I never worry about nocturnal bucks, they are still on the landscape during the day. Hunt them up !!!

From: fuzzy
12-Dec-23
Missouri breaks exactly. Have to hunt em not bait em

From: KHNC
12-Dec-23
I have a friend who owns 9 acres just east of Winston Salem NC. This year he and his wife have killed 4 bucks scoring between 120-137 on that property. They have a corn pile the size of a prius on it. Pulls deer in from all over. These were all 4.5-5.5 yo bucks. He also has quite a few 2.5-3.5 yo's and a pile of does still hitting the bait. Saying you cant kill mature bucks over bait in the south is not true at all. It gets extremely expensive maintaining a corn pile of that size though. I prefer to stick to plots with a timed feeder that goes off for 8 seconds an hour before dark each day. Encourages the deer to hit the plots before dark. They are already hitting them anyway, the feeder gets them there a little early in some case. Just enough for a snack. Its productive to hunt the entry trails from the bedding areas with a bow and not the plots themselves. They are mostly a sanctuary on my place in SC.

From: fuzzy
12-Dec-23
Wow, that's surprising.

From: SteveB
12-Dec-23
Planted crops for most season and corn after ground is frozen. I do agree that very few big bucks will be killed over bait in our area. It's more a place to see what bucks are still around, as they don't visit during daylight very often. Some don't visit bait at all. You can see them walk right on by at times.

12-Dec-23

Corax_latrans's embedded Photo
Shooting a “book” buck over a bait pile = “I caught this on my 4-wt flyrod”
Corax_latrans's embedded Photo
Shooting a “book” buck over a bait pile = “I caught this on my 4-wt flyrod”
“then he wrote an article about how he shot an elk...quartered and packed out the meat...and then proceeded to shoot a bear over the remaining carcass a couple days later.”

If you don’t see a difference between capitalizing on an ephemeral food source where it lies and habituating a bunch of bears to associate human presence/activity with a reliable food source in a specific location (of your choosing)…. then you don’t see it.

From: steve
12-Dec-23
Where I live in CT its acorns or bait Piles. very few farms . and you can kill big deer over bait but early season or when there is snow on the ground. Big maybe 130, for are area. but they don’t daylight much.

From: Candor
12-Dec-23
It will be interesting if hunters will support making baiting illegal if there is a stronger correlation made between corn aflatoxin and turkey declines.

I do not care if folks bait, I have done it before and likely will at some point in the future. It does not compare with the sense of accomplishment I get when I kill a mature buck without baiting, a food plot or calling. Just patterning and hunting. But I am not above using any of the methods. It is just a helluva lot harder to do it without a manipulated food source. It would be even better if I could do it off the ground (but I never have in my home state (SC)). Each thing that makes it harder, like a compound bow is to a rifle or a recurve is to a compound, increases the satisfaction/accomplishment. But I won't belittle any of it. But to not acknowledge what makes hunting easier is foolhardy.

12-Dec-23
Some of you guys need to pay attention to what’s said. Kansas or the south isn’t WV. And, I clearly stated in my first post I was referring to my area of WV.

I’ve done both. Extensively. Baiting in southern WV, where the habitat is so diverse due to logging, mining, and agriculture in south eastern counties of this state, is futile. I know because I gave it an honest try.

I fed year round. I created mineral licks in these baiting areas. I stayed out except to go fill up 55 gallon drums elevated off the ground between two trees, with 3/4” skidder cables. You had to do that to keep bears off of them. These feeders would feed for three weeks between fill ups. So, I did not pollute these places.

I hung cameras over every one of these feeders. I found that often, within the first day or so of hanging these feeders, I’d get pictures of big bucks. Sometimes three or four together in summer time. But, in all those photos, I’ve only got a second pic of one of those deer. It was on Night two when he came back to clean up the bag of apples I’d thrown out below the feeder the day before. That’s it. Not one of these other deer ever came back to a feeder. I’m not talking about 10 deer or two feeders here. I’m talking about 10 feeders spread over 30 miles apart.

When you are running cameras and continue to get these deer in the area but, never on the feeder cameras, that’s got to mean something. Especially the number of times and locations this occurred.

I also had three food plots totaling 5 acres on some property I had exclusive access to. It was a larger parcel, over 500 acres. And, it was mountain land and farm bottoms.

I bought the timber off this property, set up the harvest plan, supervised the logging, and was given permission to plow and plant those plots in the valley. I knew this area like my own yard. It had a good deer density and there were some real studs that called this place home.

Anyways, While the deer rarely fed in the plots due to the explosion of natural growth from the logging, they’d feed in the old pasture I kept mowed around it. Often times just browsing through the plots but, never relying on them. So, I know the plots didn’t spook them even though the deer did t use them consistently.

I also baited on that same property. I saw a lot of big deer there. But, in four years of planting and mowing those plots, and running the feeders there, I never got the first picture of a big buck at the feeders.

While a logger who cut for me hunted 150 acres of his own property, on the same mountain 4 miles away, and killed huge deer every year I did this experiment. He had a rule that his brother and father both adhered to on his property. No baiting.

That with what I was experiencing other places feeding corn convinced me what I claimed. Around these parts, baiting educates deer. There’s no debating that in my experience. And, I know a bunch of hunters around here that would testify to the exact same results.

That may not be the way it is other places. But, that’s the way it is here. I promise. And, While I don’t care to set over bait, I would indeed still be doing it if big bucks visited it.

From: sitO
12-Dec-23

sitO's Link
Listen to this Leif, it's more than just the aflatoxin.

12-Dec-23
Kenny, my brother manages about 10,000 acres scattered about about 40 miles east of there, he has tremendous success getting BIG bucks to hit bait sites. I don’t know why because that area is agriculture rich. But, the deer there flock to corn piles.

12-Dec-23
Xman, doe’s all but abandon feeders once the pre rut gets going. Like the plaque. I think it’s due to the fear of bumping into bucks around them. But, you can set your watch by that statement.

But, by the same token, most doe’s abandon food plots the same way. Once again, in my opinion because they get pestered so much by younger bucks once the pre rut gets going.

My experience over those 4 years leads me to that conclusion. You get does, fawns, and bucks visit them still. Just sparingly. And, the young bucks will out number the does and fawns in visits during this time frame.

As the rut progresses into full bore and into the back side, the doe’s will start to return.

Anyways, for me, the lack of deer sightings, the knowledge that it’s futile, and the lack of enthusiasm to set and watch a bait pile makes it a no brainer to me.

From: gjs4
13-Dec-23
There is luck, skill, and effort. When you get to the point of understanding they're buckets you fill in the reverse order for consistent success.

From: fuzzy
13-Dec-23
I just fill my luck bucket and leave the rest empty

From: drycreek
13-Dec-23
sit0, don’t read this, you will have convulsions. In Texas, we have used corn feeders for all of my life. I haven’t always hunted around them, but I do now. If there’s a good acorn crop, the corn will feed the coons but the deer won’t touch it. They won’t run out of the woods when the feeder spins either. This is gospel. Corn is a big draw in areas where there are no acorns, but that ain’t where I hunt. My main attraction is food plots, I love to grow them and I love to hunt over them. I take personal pride in feeding the deer and my plots help them through the winter after acorns are long gone. We are so blessed to have millions of fricking hogs that vacuum up the acorns in about half the time that the acorns should last, so the corn kicks in after the acorns are gone. I like my deer well fed, so I throw corn from September until spring green up, usually sometime in March. If they want it it’s there, but nobody is forcing it down their throats. When the soil warms to 60*, I’m planting spring plots. This not only helps bucks grow antlers, it helps the does have enough milk to feed twins if the coyotes don’t get one or both. The deer I shoot are normally not around the feeder, they are in the food plot or on the edge. According to those that shall remain nameless, that makes me weak, and not a hunter. I do not care, it’s legal, and I like venison. It’s my choice and I sleep well.

From: x-man
13-Dec-23

x-man's embedded Photo
x-man's embedded Photo
Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

From: Grey Ghost
13-Dec-23
Bait piles may not work in WV, but they certainly draw big bucks in Kansas. We've seen it on full display for years, sadly.

Matt

From: Groundhunter
13-Dec-23
Baiting is legal in the UP. Now buck size, and predator pressure, are not even close. There are some that know some baiting tricks that do work, and up here, putting out alot of bait, is not good...... Now when you see big bucks on bait, it's low pressure, managed land, where deer simply are not hunted hard.

What gets the deer and nicer bucks in bait here, is dictated by weather. Been really mild, so activity is slow.

From: Buckdeer
13-Dec-23
Feeders probably tend to draw more bucks if less ag and natural food around but in most of Kansas theres ag scattered.I am betting that if 10 deer go through my food plot or ag field in an evening 3 might stop by feeder and maybe 1 day a week it will be a 2.5 or older buck during daylight.

From: sitO
13-Dec-23
So why even have a feeder Randy? Let's be honest here.

From: KHNC
13-Dec-23
WV-Yes that area is pretty amazing with the quality of bucks compared to most of the state. I bet your buddy with 10k acres has some true bombers on the place!

From: Hancock West
13-Dec-23
Baiting is a very gray area as mentioned above by Mike. Food plots, standing grain, cut grain, orchards, manmade ponds, etc all attract deer. If people really have issues with these, they shouldn't sit near or on any farms that have been manipulated for a higher success rate. The also probably shouldn't fish with live bait either... LOL

From: RK
13-Dec-23
I have a really good friend that bought about 1500 in Kansas a few years ago. Built a really pretty lodge and started improving parts of it for the enjoyment of his family. His wife was from Kansas. She wanted a place to take the kids to enjoy her home State.

He has numerous well maintained food plots throughout the property Each food plot has a wildlife watering station and a feeder and or covered feed station where he feeds corn treated with Ivamec.

He gets some amazing pictures of Very large buck deer, world record raccoons and very healthy Turkeys

Catch to all of it, he allows no Deer Hunting. Upland birds and Dove. Amazing to see big bucks in the plots during the day

Place is truly amazing. Ive been up several times and really enjoy it a lot

From: sitO
13-Dec-23
You have a friend RK, mind blown. Does he allow you to shoot his dogs, ya know cause yer so stinking tough and all?

From: Cazador
13-Dec-23
Only in the WT world do you see the insanity. Nothing brings out assholes like a WT deer.

From: RK
13-Dec-23
SitO. I assure you I am the least tough guy you will ever meet. Never shot a dog on his place. He has a Forman that takes care of that if need be

Never asked him if they had a stray dog problem. He is death on his coyote population though

From: drycreek
13-Dec-23
I don’t get the hate for someone who hunts differently than you do. Whether it’s about guns, crossbows, feeders, plots, tree stands , trad bows, compounds or whatever. Why the fricking hate ? Do y’all hate the people who don’t wear the camo that you do ? Do you hate Mathews guys if you shoot a Hoyt ? Do you hate blonde women if yours is a redhead ? Do you hate guys that sit on the couch drinking beer if you are working out and drinking carrot juice ? I can go on, but can you not see how stupid this is ? If you want to hate, feel free to hate the socialist bastards that are ruining our country and stop hating each other for doing something differently than you. Good grief !

From: Candor
13-Dec-23
Drycreek - I hate you for saying that.

From: sitO
13-Dec-23
I don't hate anyone Don, but I certainly hate what these baiters are doing to something I care about. I'm sure being from TX that may be hard to understand, but bottom line we don't want to be like TX...it's a mess.

From: Grey Ghost
13-Dec-23
Whenever this topic comes up I relate it to the turkeys that live on my place. Over the years they've learned that my horses are sloppy eaters, so they show up at my barn at horse feeding time every morning and evening to enjoy an easy meal on the grain my horses scatter on the ground. You could literally kill them with a rock at those times. When they aren't around my barn, they are just as spooky as any other wild turkeys. For me, hunting deer over a bait pile would be similar to hunting turkeys at my barn...no challenge, no sport, and no fair chase. But that's just where I draw my line on the ethics of baiting. I respect the right of others to draw a different line, as long as it's legal.

Matt

From: t-roy
13-Dec-23
Drycreek……..I wouldn’t call it hate, but some of the Hoyt guys rub me the wrong way, sometimes. Now, about democrats. I friggen HATE those bastards!!!

13-Dec-23
Anybody that’s hunted somewhere besides just their back yard, would see that there’s a great variety in the habitat we hunt across this country.

It’s easy to say how another should hunt. When you aren’t hunting there. And, it’s also easy to assume hunting is the same for all whitetail deer.

How many guys used to hunting the Midwest agriculture, could go to Alabama and kill deer as easily? I’m betting zero. I’m not saying they aren’t as good a hunter. I’m saying you’ll see more deer in one season in the Midwest than you’ll likely see in 5 years in thick country.

It’s not because there is more deer in the Midwest either. It’s because they gotta be karate range in order to even see one in thick country.

How do you up your odds then? Because we all have limited time. What would you do to ensure yourself the best odds of getting a deer in range? Keep bouncing around till you get lucky?

That might work sometimes but, it surely isn’t a productive way of maximizing your chances the limited time you do have. However, planting or throwing out a food source sure does up your odds. See how that works?

On the flip side, how do you get a deer in orator country to stroll within 40 yards of you? I’ve hunted wide open places where deer get pressured. They learn quick that danger lurks in the trees and brush. How do you get one of these deer within 40 yards of you in that kind of country? See how that works.

I got zero problems with people baiting. And, while I dont fool with it anymore, That doesn’t mean I’m a more ethical hunter. It means the boredom, the amount of commitment it takes, and the results it creates just don’t equal out. I imagine that coin could be flipped to just the opposite of my experiences. Depending on where someone is hunting.

It’s like crossbows. Who in their right mind would trade that for a vertical bow. If you are interested in the greatest thrill during a kill, no one would. Same as shooting deer over bait. You wouldn’t do it if you didn’t rationalize it as a plus.

So, there is No need to ridicule or rationalize what another chooses. You aren’t walking in that other guys boots. Just be happy you were blessed enough to get to hunt.

If someone wants to set over a pile of corn, it’s their loss in quality to do so if they have other options. If someone is setting over it because they need to in order to be consistently efficient, I’m sorry that’s your pediment. But, I ain’t judging you for it. Just glad that I have choices that prevents that from being me.

From: drycreek
13-Dec-23
Sit0, you say Texas is a mess. It’s a mess with a deer population of 4,000,000. When I was a kid, there were zero deer anywhere except S Texas, or the Hill Country, and damn few there. The story of deer hunting in Texas is a resounding success. The only gripe I have are these: deer breeders and hogs. I do not believe that moving deer around the country or breeding and genetic philandering is in the best interest of the wild deer herd. That’s how CWD gets into wild deer.

Hogs…..ain’t got anything good to say about those bastards ! The state could have gotten ahead of that problem years ago but it’s too late now. It was mostly because of hunters, because they wanted something to hunt besides whitetails. It was Pandora’s box, and it has not only opened, it has turned upside down. If we don’t have more hogs than deer right now, it won’t be long until we do. I also believe that the state would suppress the actual hog numbers if it suited them. I don’t think they know, or care, how many hogs we have. For instance, I never see herds of deer numbering in the twenties, but I see hogs numbering in the twenties quite often. In Texas, there are only two kinds of people where hogs are concerned. Those that have them, and those that are gonna have them.

I guess I just don’t get why anybody cares how someone else approaches a legal activity when it has nothing to do with him/her. How does me feeding corn or having a food plot affect you sit0 ?

From: bigswivle
13-Dec-23
We wouldn’t have deer in Florida without feed. Lol

13-Dec-23
I have no issue with feeding wildlife and pollinators. I plant bait plots. Could care less if a hunter uses feeders or dumps foodstuffs.

From: bigswivle
13-Dec-23
I wouldn’t call it hate, but some of the Hoyt guys rub me the wrong way, sometimes.

Shots fired!!!! I question the masculinity of any man that doesn’t shoot a Hoyt!!! Years of observation!!

From: APauls
13-Dec-23
Hoyt guys must have huge balls to shoot those loud canons and hope the deer is still in the same spot when the arrow arrives.

From: fuzzy
13-Dec-23
" dudes got Hoyt balls" lol

From: caribou77
14-Dec-23
We don’t get to bait in Iowa. But will tell you I’ve never done so well bow hunting until we started planting food plots. It definitely takes a different strategy to hunt them and be successful.

Usually any corn piles left over from cleaning combines or up by the bins are dumped down by the woods. They don’t last long. Get hit by 100 does a night…. Bucks eat it too but unless you had plenty of money to continually put it out I can’t see where bait would be more productive than a good plot. Most of our plots are 1/4 to 1/2 acre

From: GFL
14-Dec-23

GFL's embedded Photo
GFL's embedded Photo
I feed only because it’s legal here but I never hunt over a feeder. Actually in November you’re better off on my planted fields. The feeders here are there safe place on my farm.

From: GFL
14-Dec-23

GFL's embedded Photo
GFL's embedded Photo

  • Sitka Gear