Hunters baiting deer sometimes draw bears

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I’ve always thought hunting deer over bait was the lazy man’s way of filling the freezer.

Georgia's deer hunters will be out in force next week, when the state's firearms season opens statewide. The season will run from Oct. 20 to as late as Jan. 15.  ROB PAVEY/STAFF
ROB PAVEY/STAFF
Georgia's deer hunters will be out in force next week, when the state's firearms season opens statewide. The season will run from Oct. 20 to as late as Jan. 15.
Video: Augusta Outdoors
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Pour the corn, climb a tree. What could possibly go wrong?

In South Carolina’s Lowcountry, where baiting has been legal for decades, deer hunters have a new problem: bears.

“The last few years, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources has noted an increase in the number of calls it receives from deer hunters complaining of bears eating their deer bait,” said Deanna Ruth, the state’s coastal bear biologist, in a recent news release. “There have even been reports of bears refusing to leave a ‘corn pile’ when the deer hunter enters the area to hunt.”

A recent study concluded there are as many as 800 black bears in the coastal plain of South Carolina, with more than half of them living in Horry, Georgetown, Marion, Williamsburg, Charleston, and Berkeley counties.

The problem can be easily solved by halting the use of bait for two weeks or more, which will encourage hungry bears to wander elsewhere.

In other states that allow baiting for deer, hunters have found that scattering the bait (primarily corn) over a wide area decreases bear visitations, Ruth said. Bears are intelligent, but lazy creatures.

Deer will continue to pick around to find the bait, but bears often lose interest and move on.

DEER AND GUNS: After the black powder warmup week, Georgia’s orange-clad hunters will be out in full force beginning next weekend when the stateside firearms season commences.

“Regulated hunting is the most cost effective and efficient means of managing the deer herd,” says John Bowers, Georgia’s assistant game management chief. “In addition, sportsmen and women provide more than $30 million each year to fund wildlife conservation in the state through license fees and self-imposed excise taxes collected on the purchase of firearms, ammunition, archery equipment and fishing equipment.”

Last season, 280,000 licensed hunters took more than 340,000 deer.

The season runs from Oct. 20 to Jan. 1 in the Northern Zone and through Jan. 15 in the Southern Zone.

For more information on deer hunting seasons and regulations, visit www.gohuntgeorgia.com/hunting/regulations.

COASTAL FISHING: Efforts to make coastal sportfish stocks more sustainable appear to be working, according to new figures presented recently to the Georgia Board of Natural Resources.

According to a report compiled by our Morris News Service colleague in Atlanta, Walter Jones, the newest surveys show recreational anglers who kept two out of three fish in 1992 now release two out of three.

Spotted sea trout, a staple in coastal creeks and estuaries, ranks with redfish and kingfish as the three most sought after saltwater species.

Last year, Jones reported, anglers released 43 percent of the red drum and 57 percent of the southern kingfish, compared to keeping 96 percent of the kingfish 20 years ago.


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