This past summer and fall, a General Assembly study committee held public hearings and looked into the possibility of allowing hunting deer over bait. While this practice has become somewhat commonplace among hunters, it is illegal under current law. Several south Georgia representatives are pushing a change in the law to allow hunting over bait, and large hunting plantation owners in south Georgia see baiting as a way to guarantee customers a kill. I can tell you from attending one of the hearings that there are VERY strong feelings on both sides of this debate.
My personal feeling (as a hunter) is that shooting a deer over bait takes the sport out of the “Sport of hunting”. Hunting is supposed to be a challenge, and hunters are not entitled to kill a deer every time they walk into the woods. If that were the case, it would be called “deer shooting” and not “deer hunting”. Another good argument against this proposal – which was pointed out to me by Glenn Dowling of the Georgia Wildlife Federation – is that the vast majority of the public does not hunt. Allowing hunting over bait could spark a public outrage that would jeopardize the sport altogether. The GWF has some facts about hunting over bait here.
The House is currently considering House Bill 1285 which would allow hunting over bait in south Georgia. This proposal has the potential to devastate the public’s perception of hunters. I would urge the General Assembly to consider this with great caution, and with an eye toward potential future impacts on the sport.