Our efforts to outwit and shoot deer are ramping up this weekend with opening of gun-deer season.
Illinois law on deer baiting
Statute 097-0564 was amended in 2011 and reads as follows:
“It shall be unlawful for any person to take deer by use of dogs, horses, automobiles, aircraft or other vehicles, or by the use of salt or aid of bait or baiting of any kind. For the purposes of this section, "bait" means any material, whether liquid or solid, including food, salt, minerals and other products that can be ingested, placed or scattered in such a manner as to attract or lure white-tailed deer. "Baiting" means the placement or scattering of bait to attract deer. An area is considered as baited during the presence of and for 10 consecutive days following the removal of bait.
For the purposes of taking white-tailed deer, nothing in this Section shall be construed to prevent the manipulation, including mowing or cutting, of standing crops as a normal agricultural or soil stabilization practice, food plots, or normal agricultural practices, including planting, harvesting, and maintenance such as cultivating or the use of products designed for scent only and not capable of ingestion, solid or liquid, placed or scattered, in such a manner as to attract or lure deer. Such manipulation for the purpose of taking white-tailed deer may be further modified by administrative rule.
But this isn’t like fishing and it’s not a time to bait up.
Deer baiting is illegal and was keeping Sgt. Hank Frazier of Illinois Conservation Police busy a week ago with bow hunters.
Salt blocks, apples and mineral blocks were being used to attract deer to an area, Frazier said. He said some hunters pour a bag of Deer Co-Cain (that’s right) onto the ground to participate in the time-honored tradition of the autumnal venison harvest.
“Deer cocaine” is a generic term used by hunters for various attractants and baits, commercial and homemade, and “Deer Co-Cain” is a commercial attractant. There are many baits and attractants on the market. The key is to know the difference between bait and attractant (see separate statute).
According to Frazier, some Illinois hunters use commercial products and they’re breaking the law. Some baits are poured onto the ground and are hard to see.
“They don’t think we’re going to find it,” Frazier said.
But wardens will collect soil samples and have them tested if they suspect bait, Frazier said.
The law is as much about biology as it is sportsmanship in Illinois, Frazier said. Chronic wasting disease is spread by muzzle-to-muzzle contact and this often happens as deer feed. It is especially likely to happen at artificial feeding stations.
For this reason, it also is illegal to feed deer at any time of the year, Frazier said. There are exceptions for bird feeding, as long as the feeding is not aimed at attracting deer, he said.
Have a happy hunt. Leave the bait in your tackle box.