Is Baiting Deer Fair Chase? Boone & Crockett Club Weighs In

There’s long been a debate over the ethics of baiting deer for hunting. Some love the opportunity while others can’t even talk about the topic without working themselves into a mad-on. But regardless of any preconceived notions, is baiting deer fair chase? A recent release from the Boone and Crockett Club shares their new position statement on baiting. Check it out below…

According to the Boone and Crockett Club, animal rights and anti-hunting groups have again misconstrued the meaning of Fair Chase. This time, it involves baiting, which they claim should be banned because it is not Fair Chase.

The Club has a history of defining what is and is not Fair Chase, and has released a new position statement on baiting. The position reads in part; “Fair Chase is based on the meaning of ‘fair’ that relates to legitimate, genuine, or appropriate given the circumstances. Where an increased harvest of a particular species needs to occur, or where positive identification of size or sex is a legal requirement, baiting is appropriate given the circumstances and does not violate Fair Chase principles.”

Is baiting deer fair chase? baiting-bucks

Is baiting deer fair chase?

“Over the past 132 years, the Club has helped to eliminate unsportsmanlike practices,” said Timothy C. Brady, president of the Boone and Crockett Club. “Chasing game rendered helpless in deep snow, spotlighting, driving game into lakes, or using aircraft to locate or herd game then landing to hunt them were all commonplace at one time. The Club was the first organization to recognize these practices as both unsustainable and unethical.”

With respect to baiting, the Club acknowledges in its new position statement that, “Outside of what hunting laws provide, there is no simple answer to the question about baiting being right or wrong.” If baiting is legal, whether to use bait or not becomes a matter of personal choice.

Brady explained, “The reality is that different big game species inhabit a wide variety of landscapes across North America, and they can’t sustainably be managed all the same way. That’s why we rely on wildlife managers to determine what the hunter harvest levels should be, how best to achieve harvest objectives, and what hunting methods are legal and encouraged. If a wildlife agency has made baiting legal for a particular species in a certain area, there is a sound rationale behind that decision.”

The assertion that baiting should be banned because it’s not Fair Chase is not only incorrect, it undermines their broader anti-hunting agenda. As Brady noted, “These anti-hunting groups are contradicting themselves. Before, it was all hunting is bad and should be stopped. Now they are essentially saying hunting is acceptable as long as it’s Fair Chase. At least that much we can agree upon.”

See more from the Boone and Crockett Club at

Brodie Swisher

Brodie Swisher

Editorial Manager at
Brodie Swisher is a world champion game caller, outdoor writer, seminar speaker and Editor for Brodie and his family live in the Kentucky Lake area of west Tennessee.
Brodie Swisher

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  1. John Torchick says:

    Interesting post. I see the buck is standing in a pile of what looks like corn. If we carry the idea of baiting, what category do food plots fall into? Even if we don’t hunt over corn, clover, etc., what about hunting in an oak grove where deer come to feed on acorns? Or feed on any naturally occurring vegetation? I do like the second paragraph from the end- game management is essential to herd management and population control through legitimate hunting. Thanks for sharing this article from B&C.

    • Kevin Mulder says:

      This is a huge issue right now in Michigan. The DNR banned all baiting and mineral use this year to help slow the spread of CWD. One DNR spokesman recently said that all hunters who bait in CWD areas don’t care about the deer herd, just about getting a deer. I would be interested to hear Boone and Crocket’s opinion on baiting and the spread of CWD. I don’t like baiting at all, but I do think deer mineral is very beneficial in areas of malnutrition – a problem some parts of Michigan has.

  2. borntohunt says:

    Some guys in Michigan don’t think they can kill a deer without bait and say they won’t hunt because baiting is banned.

  3. I’m in Michigan and always follow the baiting rules. I hunt a set of three trails between bedding and a water source on public land. Typically I have 6-7 legal shooter bucks on my trail cameras using these trails. From June to the third week in August / 1st week of September, I have them patterned. Then suddenly they disappear and while scouting I find a illegal size and early bait pile in a place that they normally don’t travel. September 15th rolls around and I start legally baiting (previous years), by Opening day, a few of the bucks start using their normal trails.
    My point is that I can kill a deer without bait. I have spent the time to figure out how the deer move on this patch of public land. Unfortunately, there are others that don’t respect the rules and don’t put the time in. A new rule that completely abolishes baiting isn’t going to stop them. What it will do is make the area completely unpredictable.


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