Baiting Vs Food Plots For Deer Hunting

by Phillip Gentry

Upstate Outdoors
October 11, 2019 - 9:18 am
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This week-end marks the opening of the firearms season for whitetail deer hunting in the Upstate. While many may have been in the woods with bow or muzzle loader for a couple of weeks or more, this week-end will definitely see a surge of hunters in the woods.

Hunters who hunt on private land have most likely made some preparations for the opening of the season by preparing food plots or created baited areas to draw deer into a specific area. The practice of baiting for deer has been legal in the Upstate since 2012, but in the end, which is better for the deer and deer hunting in general?

Regardless of which side of the great debate you fall on, it’s a fact that baiting has become a factor in how hunters pattern deer in the piedmont. Even hunters who don’t bait for deer are afraid of losing deer to other properties that do bait.

Will Montgomery, owner of Carolina Farm & Wildlife Supply in Pauline, SC claims your danged if you do and danged if you don’t.

“My belief is that the people who have been planting food plots will recognize that a food plot, management-wise, is 10 times better for deer than a bag of corn,” said Montgomery. “A food plot will feed the herd for an extended period of time.  A bag of corn will feed a few deer for a very short period of time.”

Like many hunters, Montgomery chooses to remain neutral over the debate, since he offers both food plot supplies and bagged corn at his store. He’s more interested in Upstate hunters learning to integrate baiting into the whole equation than using it as a catch-all.

“I’m not opposed to baiting,” he said. “I think there is room for both and a need for it.  I definitely think there is a strong need for food plots.  If you want to just kill deer for meat, then go buy a bag of corn.  If you want to try to create quality habitat with a quality herd, it takes a year-round feeding regimen that includes food plots, deer minerals, and supplemental feeding with a high-protein deer pellet.  It requires serious management to grow a deer you’ll be proud to put on the wall.”  

The terrain in the Upstate is considerably different than other parts of the state, some better and some worse. It changes the way a hunter can and should pattern a buck that he’d like to harvest. 

Since both food plots and baited sites involve patterning deer over food, the strategies for hunting in and around them is similar.

With the breeding season soon at hand, does will be attracted to any available food source to gain winter weight and beef up for carrying and birthing fawns. Contrary to popular belief, buck continue to eat during the breeding season but food becomes less important.

The best of both worlds is to plant foods or make bait available in locations where does will congregate and feel safe from hunters and other predators. 

Any situation where you have does gathering in one location is likely the most effective way to draw in bucks. Even the presence of smaller bucks will trigger the territorial instincts of mature bucks and bring them forward to protect their does and their territory.

That’s when the real fun begins.

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Phillip Gentry is the host of “Upstate Outdoors,” broadcast from noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on 106.3 WORD FM or online at 1063word.radio.com.

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