May 20 12:56 PM
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Missing a true hunting experience

Dear Woods-N-Water News:

The baiting issue will probably never go away. I for one never liked baiting and taught myself as well as my son to hunt without the use of it, making the need of it not necessary to guarantee my success. For me the baiting issue revolves more around one's ability to hunt than it does the DNR's assertion of herd health. However, I do realize that we are in an age when one receives endless hours of "pleasure" looking at a computer screen. So it shouldn't surprise me that some may get enjoyment from the narrow view of a box blind, their gaze affixed upon a pile of beets anticipating the "enemy's" stealthy approach.

Simply stated, baiting isn't for me. It might be for you, and that's entirely fine. However, I will say, you are missing out on the true satisfaction of what a genuine hunt can really offer. For those ingrained in the use of bait, making the transition to no bait will force you to go through some major psychological changes. This won't be easy to accomplish as you're dealing with a trained routine, one that has been taught from a very early age. If baiting isn't an option, many won't attempt the transition, possibly even giving up hunting all together because this is such a foreign concept to them.

I once helped an acquaintance go through the process of putting in for the Iowa draw. He was enamored with the deer we were taking on a regular basis and wanted to try his hand at it. He was life-long northern Michigan native, hunting deer as long as he could remember. After a couple years he was finally drawn, and to say the least, was very excited about the upcoming season. I just happened to run upon him at a local sporting goods store during the late summer. Right away he commenced asking me all kind of questions about his upcoming hunt. Everything was fine until he asked me this question. "What type of bait works best in Iowa?"

His eyes were filled with a lost, almost fearful expression when I told him baiting wasn't allowed in Iowa.

"Then how do you kill the deer you've been bringing back?" "How do you know where to go?" he responded.

To me this was a very sad commentary on the life of a typical Michigan deer hunter. Here's a 45 year-old man, one that hunted his entire life, yet didn't have a clue of how to "hunt" deer without carrying a bag of corn to his hunting sight.

To me this is the real issue of baiting. It has nothing to do with the health of our herd. If this was the real impetus for the DNR baiting ban then they would also be equally concerned with our unbalanced age structure as well as our whacked out buck-to-doe ratio, as this is more indicative of poor herd health than any disease will ever be. It's just easier to scare the hunting populist by using disease as the battering ram than tackle a more daunting task of changing generations of Michigan hunting traditions as well as embracing 21st century management practices.

So, lobby for a change in the law if you want. Just realize doing so will never push you to hone the true hunting skills you all possess, a skill tucked firmly behind that large pile of sugar beets.

By Jeff Best
April 27, 2011

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