Outdoors: New law allows hunters to take deer and wild pigs over bait

Deer feeder

Some deer feeders protect the feed and allow deer access to feed at any time.

Back in April, the Alabama Legislature passed a law allowing hunters to take white-tailed deer and wild pigs over bait. In years past, similar baiting bills have come up for a vote but failed to pass. The new law only allows baiting on private and leased lands.

Chris Blankenship, Commissioner for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said this is not a requirement that people hunt over bait. It’s a tool that people can use if that is what they prefer. Somebody who is totally opposed to that type of hunting can hunt the way they always have. This is just an option.

For hunters who prefer not to hunt over bait the Area Definition Regulation remains in effect. The Area Definition Regulation allows for supplemental feeding if the feed is more than 100 yards away and out of the line of sight of the hunter because of natural vegetation or naturally occurring terrain features.

Under the new baiting law only white-tailed deer and feral hogs can be taken by the aid of bait. No other game animal can be taken with the aid of bait. While wild hogs can be taken year-round during daylight hours only, deer can only be taken during the deer hunting season.

Hunters that do hunt deer or wild hogs over bait will be required to purchase a Bait Privileged License. The license is $15 for Alabama residents and $51 for non-residents.

Also, there are no exemptions under the new baiting law. Everyone that is hunting with the aid of bait is required to have a baiting license.  That means hunters 65 years old and older and hunters under 16 years old must have a valid bait license when hunting with the aid of bait. That also includes people hunting on their own property and lifetime license holders.

A valid hunting license is also required for hunters that are not exempt. Also, remember baiting is not allowed on Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs),  National Forests and other public lands.

At the recent World Deer Expo in Birmingham, deer feeders were a popular item. Several feeder manufacturers and vendors were eager to show off their models. Hunters gathered around to ask questions and obtain information.

“Our feeders can use any type of feed,” said Samuel Knight of Wilderness Calls, makers of covered feeders for deer. “There is no wasted feed and it stays dry. There are no timers and the deer can feed anytime day or night.”

Knight went on to say his feeders have a life of about 30 years and are made in the U.S.A. Certain models can hold from 150- to 350- pounds of feed and have critter guards to prevent hogs, racoons and other animals from accessing the feed.

There are many types of feeders on the market. The most popular type is a broadcast feeder that broadcasts feed at certain times with a programmable timer.

Hunting deer over bait has created some controversy among hunters. While many hunters will take advantage of the law, others will hunt traditionally and not hunt over bait. Hunting over bait is not a magic potion. Research has shown a majority of deer will usually visit the feeder at night.

Charles Johnson is the Star’s outdoor editor. You can reach Charles at charjohn@cableone.net