Georgia Hunting Regulations: Deer Baiting and HB 277

There has been an interesting bill that has been bouncing around the Georgia State Legislature this session involving baiting for whitetail deer and feral hogs in Georgia.  It’s progress has been reported recently around the state, but particularly in papers like this Tifton Gazette article on the deer baiting bill, that are situated in the southern zone which would be most effected.  Currently, it is legal in Georgia to provide “supplemental feed” for game animals on your property via corn, wheat, grains, salt, apples,etc.  However, it is also currently illegal to hunt over the supplemental food plots.  The current law states that you must hunt more than 200 yards away from where you have placed your feed.  Further, you must not have a line of sight to your supplemental food plot when hunting. 

The original Georgia House Bill 277 (you can see the bill’s progress and read the bill in its entirety at that link) would have allowed for baiting of whitetail deer and feral hogs throughout Georgia.  After amendments and the normal machinations of the state legislature the final bill that has passed the House and Senate allows for baiting of whitetail deer and feral hogs ONLY in the southern zone.  It would prohibit baiting on all federal and state properties such as state parks and WMA but would be legal on private lands.  It also has language restricting placing any bait within 50 yards of property lines and upholds the prohibition of baiting for game birds. 

The bill currently sits on Governor Deal’s desk for his signature or veto.  I expect he will sign it into law.

I don’t have particularly strong stance on this one way or another but there has been considerable debate at places like the whitetail domian forums on this issue.  There are many in the southern zone who have argued for this for years.  There are also a large number of others who argue that baiting leads to the increase of communicable diseases in the deer population and it destroys the concept of the “fair chase”.    There are some like this fellow over at deerhuntingbigbucks.com who are more uncertain on deer baiting like myself.

When it comes to hogs, who are a notorious nuisance, I think I could be sold without too much difficulty.  They can destroy fields, crops and property fairly easily and if you surprise one, particularly in breeding season, they can be quite dangerous.  The whitetail issue is a bit more thorny for me.  It strikes me as less hunting and more target practice and to me would certainly reduce the thrill of the hunt.  That said, it doesn’t strike me as a “world is coming to an end” type of issue as some have portrayed it.

I’m curious as to what you think.    Please leave your comments below, or as an alternative you can go to our facebook page and comment, (You can find a Facebook logo link in the upper right corner of the blog.  While you’re there, like us if you’re so inclined, we’d appreciate it.) as I really would like to get some input on what the hunting and wildlife community think on this issue.

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About Ryan Brashear

Ryan Brashear has been a licensed REALTOR® for 14 years specializing in land, farm and acreage sales in the CSRA. He is co-owner and Vice President of Brashear Realty Corporation as well as co-owner of Brashear Development Corporation. He has served as a Past President of the Greater Augusta Association of REALTORS® and is currently serving as a Vice President of the Georgia Association of REALTORS®.
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23 Responses to Georgia Hunting Regulations: Deer Baiting and HB 277

  1. larry alford says:

    I think in order to help reduce the wild hog population in Georgia, House Bill 277 needs to be signed by the Governor.By allowing hunters to hunt deer over bait hunters will also shoot the hogs as well.On our lease in Chattahoochee county our food plots[MY OPINION FOOD PLOTS IS ALSO BAITING]are destroyed as soon as we plant them.There are so many wild hogs now that they are being hit by cars and trucks.Hogs root around in the woods eating everything that is eatable including turkey eggs, deer fawns, food plots and natural foods that our deer heard needs to survive.The state of Texas has been baiting for years and has one of the best deer heards around.They have never had one bit of problem with any disease affecting there deer.Chronic wasting disease is a term used by people that are not for baiting trying to scare the public.The baiting bill if signed by the Governor truly puts all hunters on the same page of hunting.I think game wardens fear this bill will pass and if so takes away there mightier than GOD attitude and their power to roam the woods at will.I think deer hunters and game wardens should work together and try to make this work.

  2. Thanks for commenting Larry. I appreciate your thoughts. I have little trouble in agreeing with you on the hogs. We have owned several properties where hogs were present and they were a real problem. They consistently rooted up the fields and generally tore everything to pieces. If they are in fact gorging themselves on fawns, turkey eggs and the like then their prescence is even more disconcerting. As for the deer, I just have little to no experience on what effects baiting has on a deer herd. Chronic Wasting Disease may be totally irrelevant, I have just seen numerous arguments against it with detailed descriptions on why it increases the prevalence of CWD. I have no real opinion whether hunting over bait is good or bad. I probably wouldn’t choose this method for myself, but if I can’t be convinced it’s an overall bad practice for whatever reason, I don’t think I could argue against it for others.

  3. Sean Norsworthy says:

    I live in Harris County, GA and work for LEM Products. We sell and provide high quality meat processing equipment to help the hunters process their game and take it to the table. With me working in the hunting industry, I have a total different outlook to this feeding bill. I look at this bill being passed as a possitive outlook to our economy. Hopefully with the feeding bill being passed, it will open up more farmers to planting feed corn to meet the higher demand. The companies that manufacture feeders will increase their sales into Georgia.

    Now, if a hunter don’t want to hunt over bait, they don’t have to, they can continue to hunt the way they do. I don’t think anyone is blind to the fact that the majority of hunters either have been hunting over bait, or putting out bait in a selected area of their property (staying over 200 yards away), or they have been putting out bait in the off season such as minerals, corn, or suppliments to help grow bigger deer. My point is, baiting is and has been a big part of our hunting tradition. I am Not saying our “Georgia” hunters are all hunting over bait, I am only saying that some sort of “baiting” has been a big part and legal for as long as I know. With all the baiting and the number of different supplements I have seen come through the industry, I have not heard of one case where there was some disease passed onto our deer herd.

    Finally, I totally agree with Larry Alford, food plots is “baiting”! No other way around it, you plant a source of food to attract deer to a location for you to harvest that animal. The only thing different in putting up a feeder, is that it allows that individual who does not have the equipment, nor the resources to plant a legal food plot, can put up a source of bait that will also attract deer to their stand. I do understand everyone’s point of view and respect it. I am proud to live in this country and I am ALSO greatful to have a place to hunt. If this bait bill is passed, I hope everyone will continue to hunt the way they want to hunt and pass on their values to the next hunter. This is why I am so proud to live in a free country.

    God Bless.. Sean Norsworthy

  4. Bill Hamilton says:

    I live in Florida, but own property in Georgia. I cannot see why you cannot hunt over feed when most of the adjoining states allow it. My biggest gripe is that I have to buy a license to hunt on my own property, although I pay property taxes & spend much more than the cost of a license keeping up my property & equipment, as well as all the other I spend for gas, groceries & etc. Just does not my good sense to me. Sounds like to me they don!t want any outsiders hunting in Georgia.

  5. Thanks for the comments.

    Sean, thanks for your input on CWD. I have little experiencew with it and given your profession I suspect you know more about the prevalence of CWD in our herd than I do. I can’t diasgree with you on the placing of supplements and food plots. It amounts to baiting, although it’s not exactly the same if you’re not hunting directly over it. Nonetheless, we’re talking small degrees of seperation here.

    Bill, no need to worry about it anymore as Governor Deal has signed the bill into law and its effective date will be July 1, 2011. So as of then, hunting over bait will be perfectly legal.

    As for this point, “My biggest gripe is that I have to buy a license to hunt on my own property, although I pay property taxes & spend much more than the cost of a license keeping up my property & equipment” I could and do say the same thing about property taxes. I sometimes feel like I don’t own any property in Georgia, but instead merely rent it from the government. I can’t dispute a similar argument against hunting licenses. I will say I don’t think Georgia is intentionally trying to drive away out of state hunters.

  6. Patrick says:

    I live and hunt in Florida as well as hunt in Georgia. I’ve heard several people arguing that baiting decreases the population but there is a season limit in Georgia so that is really a mute point in my opinion. In Florida you can kill 2 deer per day and to be honest I’ve never had any problems with a lack of deer. Another point I can bring forward from experience, which many people in Georgia will soon learn, big bucks don’t like feeders. The best way to kill a big buck is away from feed. The only way I’ve ever had good deer come to corn was by hand spreading corn in the woods. When you come down to it that method is very similar to a deer grazing in a food plot. I still plant food plots just like I do in Georgia and get about the same response. Personally I’m glad that Georgia decided to allow baiting. It does bring many does and younger bucks to your stand on a regular basis and helps ensure that you will see something when you go. It’s a great way to introduce someone to hunting. My brother is just now getting into the sport. The first weekend he hunted he saw 26 different deer over a two day period. He never saw anything to kill but enjoyed seeing all the deer. I’m sure many people are like me and just enjoy watching deer as much as killing.

  7. Robert says:

    There is no difference in hunting a farm where corn has been planted and killing deer that go there to feed than pouring out corn in the woods for the deer to eat. The end result is the same, deer come to the corn, you sit and wait for them. We have been hunting over corn with feeders for 20 years and yes the “big bucks” do come to them too, just not at the times they go off and sling corn. As always, where the does are at, the bucks are close by. I am thrilled they passed this law, and from what i have read, the Governor singed this last week and will be law on July 1 2011.

  8. ron says:

    that really sucks. i live in north ga. now is that really fair they can hunt over bait in south ga and we can’t in north ga? not fair, not fair, not fair.

  9. Dusty says:

    I think it is very unfair for half of the state to be able to hunt over bait and the other half not. I live and hunt in the southern zone and I was very pleased when the bill passed. I think it will become legal in the northern zone in a couple of years!

  10. Mike T says:

    I have been hunting for over thiry years and I don’t understand why we can’t use corn in both zones. Planting food plots is the same as corn but all hunters that don’t have access to planting equipment. Georgia -Alabama-and Florida need to get together on outer state hunting fees. There are many of us that own land in Alabama but if that not our primary residence it cost us $275.00 out of state fee for deer hunting license.

  11. Austin says:

    The southern zone can now hunt over corn and have an extra week to hunt deer. Sounds like discrimination to me.

  12. Thomas says:

    I think there is a big difference between planting corn and putting it out from a feeder. It takes alot more work and time and knowledge to plant corn than spend 10 dollars at walmart for a 50 lb bag. I have an old farm in the southern zone that I keep planted for deer year round, not much tops 30 acres during the fall. But it really sucks to manage and spend the money while some neighbor with 10 acres can bait and shoot your two and three year old bucks before they get to maturity. We got a farm in alabama too but don’t live there anymore and Mike your right the hunting licenses are ridiculous.

  13. Tom Scott says:

    It seems to me that the state of GA is grossly overpopulated with deer. You see them dead on the roads year ’round. Those of us in the northern zone should be allowed to hunt over feeders just like those in the south and we should be allowed to take feral hogs by what ever means necessary.

  14. Wes says:

    After reading and researching on my own I plan to be part of lobby actions to include the northern zone. I am in the process of contacting my state representatives. I am alos planning a facebook page to bring light to this issue. The inclusion of the northern zone would only inhance hunting and help hunters better manage their deer herds. As with states that currently provide this measure it is a definitely benefit to the overall deer population and its control. As far is the feral hog debate is concerned, the state should allow hunters any means necessary to control that population just short of setting poison. Thank you for the forum.

  15. Gary says:

    I enjoy seeing deer, as do others. However I can teach my kids to hunt and watch them in their natural habitat or I can pour out a bucket of corn and watch my kids shoot them from the porch. Why even call it hunting? Deer Shooting would be a better term.

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  17. wayne says:

    I have been hunting in ga. For about 45 years now & I love the sport of it & thereat is great. My grandsons now hunt with me &I they love it &thereat I truly think hunting &I fishing give our kids great moments together.I hope baiting for deer hunting is passed in the northern zone for the 2012sport season.there are just to many deer being killed on road raising our auto insurance so why note have a better chance to hunting in the wood over bait.

  18. Last year was tough even with corn,

  19. Donnie V says:

    I agree with hunting over bait. By doing so it allows you to better manage the population by weeding out the old or sick. It will keep the deer healthy so they can continue to thrive. I hate to hear about people shooting anything that moves. By baiting game it will give trigger happy folks a reason to be a little more patent so they can hold out for mature game. Hunting over bait also makes for great photos of wildlife. So once again I hope the bill passes.

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  23. Ronnie A Morgan says:

    Baiting has been legal in Michigan where I am from for years and does no harm to the deer herd at all. Baiting gives a market to farmers for sugar beets, corn and carrots they normally would not have. Deer become used to bait piles and sometimes will not come to them except at night. Bait piles will draw deer into your area, but in no way makes killing a deer a sure thing.

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