Maine outdoor writer Steve Carpenteri, in a recent article in the Northwoods Sporting Journal, posed a number of questions related to the baiting of deer by hunters. He then answered those questions in an informative and useful way. While many states allow the hunting of deer over unnatural bait, including neighboring New Hampshire, Maine is not one of them. Here, hunting deer over unnatural bait is illegal.

Carpenteri, who has hunted a lot over bait in other states, points out that even baiting is no sure thing, especially when it comes to mature deer, who are exceedingly wary of bait sites. The outdoor writer explained that it is legal in Maine to put out deer bait prior to the opening of any given deer season. This sometimes can have results with younger deer, who develop a routine and may check out a former bait site after the bait has been removed.

What Carpenteri may not have known was that as he was putting the finishing touches on his column, the Maine Legislature voted to enact a bill called “An Act to Prohibit the Feeding of Deer from August 15th to December 15th. This will take effect 90 days from legislative adjournment without the governor’s signature. So, in effect, the pre-baiting tactic that Carpenteri writes about will be illegal for the summer-fall of 2018.

Yes, Steve, it is almost impossible to keep up with the Augusta legislative machine that cranks out laws like cheap lollypops.

Interestingly, the folks at Fish and Wildlife testified in support of this bill, LD 767, arguing that it would help in the areas of disease transmission and deer-car collisions. The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine opposed the bill, along with a bunch of others, all of which it claims were “attempts by the general public to either protect deer or alter DIF&W management policy.”

On balance, it seems that neither the opponents or the proponents were very focused in their testimony, although SAM makes a salient observation..

There is an indisputable ethical component to this debate, one that is never broached by Carpenteri, SAM or DIF&W.

If you are a deer hunter, what do you think? Is it ethical to bait deer? Is it different than putting a tree stand over an apple tree or a corn field? As a Maine bow hunter, I have engaged in pre-baiting, for all the good that it has done. Although I am not sure where I come down on this issue from an ethical standpoint, I do believe that: 1) Ethics should figure in the debate, and 2) the legislative machine is too quick to pass laws that never get fully fleshed out and wind up criminalizing sportsmen, who just can’t stay abreast of the legislative flurry.

SAM plans to introduce legislation next winter to retract this new pre-baiting ban.

The author is editor of the “Northwoods Sporting Journal.” He is also a Maine guide and host of a weekly radio program — “Maine Outdoors” — heard Sundays at 7 p.m. on “The Voice of Maine News – Talk Network.” He has authored three books; online purchase information is available at www.maineoutdoorpublications.com.

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