Should We Hunt Over Deer Feed?
Dr. John Woods 12.07.16
Hunting over deer feeders is an impassioned issue. In some states like Texas the practice of using and hunting over deer feeders has been the status quo for years. The rationales for using deer feeders are understood with some of the rough terrains and thorny habitats across places like the Lone Star State. However, the rationale is weaker for other states. What say you?
The Mississippi State Wildlife Commission recently changed the rules to allow the hunting of deer over feeders. Deer feeders were allowed before, but hunters could not shoot deer in their sight. The rule is that the feeder must be at least 100 yards away from the deer stand.
Now, despite the rule change, nobody here is silly enough to think that hunters have not been doing this for years. The local farm co-ops will tell you firsthand that their No.1 business is selling corn to feed deer. Deer were being shot over feed. To think otherwise is beyond naive. But now the practice is legal.
Boil all the arguments down and it really just comes to two issues. One against the use of feeders is from hunters who like to hunt in a more traditional style by pursuing their game man against deer. They love the chase and the free will form of hunting a deer in the wilds. Surely we can all appreciate that style of deer hunting. Those hunters can elect not to use feeders.
Those wanting to hunt over feeders argue the opportunities it gives younger hunters making it easier for a youth hunter to harvest a deer. They say this encourages more youth to get into hunting. We need that.
Others argue that feeders offer a chance at easier manipulation of deer populations by taking more antlerless deer and/or selective bucks. Having feeders on the property allows these herd managers a more direct hands-on way to control their deer.
Apart from the pure hunting aspects are the biological ones. Deer biologists argue against feeding deer. They fear congregating deer could result in spreading diseases especially Chronic Wasting Disease, CWD. This does become a real issue and has impacted numerous states.
So, it is a tough issue. If you don’t want to feed deer, then don’t. If you do, then that is your option, but understand the risks. We would love to hear your input.