VOTES Results 2002

Hunters voice opinions on deer baiting, crossbows, an alligator season and West Point bass length limits.

GON Staff | May 1, 2002

The Georgia General Assembly finally went home on April 12, 2002, ending the most-active legislative session in memory in terms of potential impacts on hunters. We asked sportsmen through last month’s VOTES card to tell us how they felt about four bills that were being debated. The results of what the legislators voted on can be found here. What follows are the results of how GON readers voted.

VOTES Question 1: If you were a legislator, how would you vote on allowing baiting deer only in the Southern Zone?

Senate Bill 369 would have legalized baiting for deer and hogs in the Southern Zone only. The text of this bill was basically the amendment that was added to the crossbow bill that was hotly debated. According to our VOTES results, many hunters who favor baiting did not like this bill because it split the state in half, making game violators out of Northern Zone hunters who hunted near a feeder, while Southern Zone hunters would have been legal. Out of 807 responses, 594 (74 percent) said they would vote against this proposed law. Only 213 (26 percent) said they favored the language of SB 369.

The other baiting law debated in at the Capitol was House Bill 1095, which would have legalized baiting statewide, but would have required mechanized feeders and a $50 permit. Of 827 responses, 431 (52 percent) opposed the language of this bill, while 396 (48 percent) were in favor.

Two legislative bills in 2002 would have legalized hunting deer over feeders. VOTES respondents particularly didn’t like a bill that would have legalized baiting only in the Southern Zone.

Baiting comments included:

• “I don’t like anything that separates the north and the south. I know you legislators think it is just fine, but it is not Constitutional.”

• “Here a bill, there a bill, everywhere a bill-bill. Whatever happened to the term fair chase?”

• “There is no moral or ethical difference between hunting over a 6-month maintained feeder and a 1/2-acre plot planted with some super-duper clover-pea-rye-wheat mix… except that tractor payment.”

• “The baiting bills are an anti-hunter’s dream come true. These bills weaken the very fiber of what hunting is all about.”

• “I think $25 per feeder is more than enough. I have six feeders ($300 plus $50 each!) But allowing hunting over these feeders is worth $25 in better management ability.”

• “A hunter is unethical and will ruin our future if he wants to run a feeder, meanwhile Mr. High and Mighty puts out 100 percent [urine] from a female deer in heat and that’s OK? I don’t think the anti-hunters would see doe-in-heat [urine] as less of an attractant and less objectionable than a feeder.”

• “Opposed. I don’t like baiting, I use food plots.”

• “Baiting will encourage more lazy, unethical people to enter the deer woods. If you have no hunting skills, stay home. Instead of baiting, learn how to hunt.”

• “What is a food plot but bait or feed? Baiting is OK, but if no baiting in the north, no baiting in the south.”

• “Explain how planting one acre of corn in a cutover is okay, but corn in a feeder is illegal. The law shouldn’t be divided over who can afford a tractor and who can’t.”

• “Baiting is a black eye on all hunters. It is not fair chase.”

• “Baiting has been legal for years. Hunters just have to remove bait 10 days before season opens.”

• “We don’t need baiting. If a club member buys a permit and I don’t, then he baits the spot I want to hunt or the whole club, I’m blackmailed into buying a permit or be illegal!”

• “Baiting in only the Southern Zone is crazy. I hunt in Crawford County, so if that passes I ain’t gonna have any more deer. Everybody across the Flint River in Taylor County is going to shoot all our deer.”

• “If (baiting bills) pass, let’s rename the hunting license to the harvesters license. Maybe PETA has a valid argument!”

• “Make it statewide. Hunting over bait in Southern Zone only is unfair to us on leased land in the Northern Zone.”

• “Baiting is legal in S.C. and Fla. Deer herds are strong. Georgia should make it legal also. It would free up game wardens for more serious offenses.”

• “Next year get a law passed banning food plots and scents — come on people, in the eyes of the public baiting is nothing compared to some stuff hunters do!”

• “I consider hunting over bait repugnant. It is a slap in the face to those of us who are concerned about the loss of hunting ethics.”

• “Baiting is widespread now. Game wardens have too much authority to come on property now. Hunters ultimately determine what they kill.”

• “Opposed to baiting. Thank you for not allowing photocopies.  Sportsmen, your image matters!”

• “Feed is feed — planted or poured.”

• “The baiting bill only adds fuel to the fire for the antis!”

• “Favor legalizing mechanized feeders if required to operate them year round.”

• “You can’t legalize deer baiting in the Southern Zone only. That’s unfair. The Southern Zone already has the top places to hunt. Why make it easier?”

• “The non-hunting public doesn’t understand hunting in the first place, and all it would take for them to turn on us is the media to show deer being shot over bait… these same elected officials would have every soccer mom in the state beating down their door to put a stop to hunting.”

• “Baiting would be a useful management tool for me in controlling feral-hog populations. The herd is such where I hunt that I don’t need baiting to fill my freezer with venison.”

• “Legalize baiting statewide, and legalize any kind of feeder. Don’t divide zones.”

• “Hunting over bait… I suppose it’s an option if you don’t know how to hunt. The only difference between baiting and the petting zoo is a gate.”

• “I favor baiting as long as farmers can obtain permits to kill deer eating the crops. Why not let the hunters do it?”

• “SB 369: I do not agree with this bill because I don’t believe it would be fair to allow me in the Southern Zone to hunt near a feeder and it not be legal in the Northern Zone. I do not agree with the permit fee because we pay enough already.”

• “They should legalize baiting because it’s being done anyway by most hunters. I’m in forestry and in the woods everyday seeing this done.”

• “We all need to unite to protect our sport, but baiting is not the answer for unity.”

• “If non-hunters think 300-yard rifle shots are not fair chase, are we going to stop using rifles for deer hunting because of what they think?”

• “Opposed. I think the baiting law is only for the money, which the state already wastes too much of.”

• “We should support all hunting opportunities in Georgia. If you do not like baiting, then do not hunt over bait, but let those who want to go ahead.”

• “I’m opposed to baiting of any kind. In favor of supplemental feeding during off-season.”

• “We don’t need baiting in Georgia. It takes away from the hunt and will cause extra expense in the attitude of ‘he who has the most corn — wins.’”

• “Hell! Let’s shoot ’em by the light of the moon. No feeders!!”

• “Baiting, especially to control hogs, is needed. It’s done already. Make it legal and collect wildlife dollars.”

• “If baiting is legalized the hunt is over. Just go to Texas and see. The adventure will become a shoot.”

• “Instead of baiting the proper language should be supplemental feeding of wildlife, then the antis would have less ammo!”

• “Oppose HB 1095. I am for hunting over bait, but not with just mechanized feeders.”

• “Baiting is in direct conflict with the concept of fair chase. Go shoot pen-raised deer if you are too lazy or incompetent to hunt fairly.”

• “If baiting is legalized, people with lifetime licenses shouldn’t have to buy a baiting permit.”

• “Georgia legislators don’t give a rip about the sport of hunting! They are just using these things to get more revenue from us.”

• “I would vote to legalize baiting for the Southern Zone only, archery season only. No restriction on the type of feeders.”

• “Shooting deer eating corn out of a bucket is not hunting. The next step after baiting will be to legalize hand grenades, dynamite and booby traps!”

• “Opposed to both bills. We bait now, but oppose fees, permits and restrictions to feeders.”

• “Georgia hunters have controlled the deer population without baiting — we do not need baiting in Georgia.”

• “I would like to see baiting for hogs on private land — hogs only, not deer.”

• “Baiting will ruin turkey hunting because people will use the bait site to kill turkeys. I am 66, and I can still kill deer without bait.”

• “With respect to HB 1095, I am in favor of legalizing deer baiting, but not in favor of limiting baiting to mechanized feeders.”

• “Deer hunting is about hunting, not baiting. I see this as a way for wealthy hunters to take the challenge out of hunting.”

• “No one should bait any game, after all, it should be about hunting not about killing or shooting! One problem that may occur is if someone belongs to a club but does not want to hunt over bait, he may be forced to do so in order to see game!”

• “I think HB 1095 should be like SB 369 — feeders that protect grain from elements allowed. Mechanized feeders will be a big money racket.”

• “I would hate to see Georgia hunters become dependent on baiting. We do not need children being taught or shown that there is no other way to hunt than baiting. Then it becomes shooting practice, laziness, no scouting, non-challenging, no appreciation, non-sportsmanship, and really not hunting.”

• “Why not legalize baiting in the Northern Zone only? What’s so special about the Southern Zone?”

The next piece of legislation was HB 1158, which would increase the deer limit to 10 does and two bucks, but require that the second buck have at least four points on one side; and increase the deer season by one week.

Of 809 responses, 497 (61 percent) favored this proposal, compared to 312 (39 percent) who opposed at least part of the proposal. Legislators passed this bill on the final day. Most of the comments related to this bill were negative, despite a strong majority voting in favor of the bill.

HB 1158 comments included:

• “If deer season is going to be longer, it needs to be at the end of the season. Or cut a week of bow season and make muzzleloader a week longer.”

• “Shorten deer season. Dog owners do not have the opportunity to squirrel hunt because deer season is too long.”

• “QDM is not the state’s responsibility.”

• “Twelve deer is way too many. No one needs to kill that many in one year.”

• “Ten does is too many, will not happen in my club!”

• “Most clubs aren’t killing does anymore; increasing the limit will not help.”

• “Deer hunting will be history if we allow any increase in harvest! Who’s behind this, quail hunters? Every year less deer are seen, less sign, etc. means more boring hunts and more deer hunters quitting!”

• “Increase deer season one week, but do it in January and let Northern Zone have same number of days as Southern Zone.”

• “Since the change of the way deer are tagged, there has been more abuse of limits and not reporting that has resulted in more deer killed. We don’t need a limit increase.”

• “I believe the insurance companies would have us kill all the deer if they had their way. I would say they are the ones lobbying for more deer harvest.”

• “I don’t think there should be statewide QDM because of first-time hunts with kids.”

• “I oppose the 4-points on one side law. Where I hunt we see no big bucks.”

• “Make all season antlerless days and leave the limit like it is.”

• “Who in the world would want to shoot 12 deer? Five is plenty. This sounds like an insurance-company promotion.”

• “A buck is a buck if he has one spike or 10 points. Don’t take away my right to choose what I shoot.”

• “I believe we should be able to take more deer. If you don’t want the extra tags, don’t use them.”

• “I would never increase the bag limit any higher, the limit now is way too high. Also, I am not in favor of any form of antler restrictions.”

• “In Lincoln County on the land we lease, a buck of 4-points on a side is hard to come by. A 4-pointer period is hard.”

• “The 4-points on a side or better rule I really like. I hear fairly frequently, ‘if I don’t shoot it, someone else will.’ Now, if they do, it will be illegal!”

• “Disagree strongly with 4-points on a side rule. Just a trick vote for statewide QDM. Rich man’s deer hunting.”

The final bill we asked our readers to vote on was HB 1174, which would legalize crossbows during all seasons, including archery season. Out of 821 responses, a slim majority of 423 (52 percent) said they favored legalizing crossbows, while 398 (48 percent) opposed the idea. This measure also passed the legislature on the final day.

Crossbow comments included:

• “Crossbows are not primitive weapons. Don’t allow them outside of rifle season, if at all.”

• “As far as the crossbows are concerned, I am all for it. They are a good weapon that takes skill and knowledge to use.”

• “Favor legalizing. Crossbow use should be looked at as inline muzzleloaders are during primitive-weapons season. If you want to use one, do so. If not, then don’t.”

• “I have a crossbow permit and use the crossbow to hunt. I am not at an advantage over hunters with compound bows. The crossbow is not any more accurate, nor does it kill at a farther distance.”

• “The whole Professional Bowhunter’s Society object strongly with allowing crossbows during bow season. ”

• “There is a big misconception about crossbows. Everything needs to be perfect or they will be very inaccurate. I am sure people think they are like a rifle, so they will take shots that will result in a lot of deer being wounded.”

• “I am a disabled, licensed crossbow hunter and enjoy it very much. I have many friends over 70 as I am that cannot pull a string back on a regular bow and yet are not disabled. With a cocking string, they could crossbow hunt as I do.”

• “This would be good for young and old alike. The young who can’t pull a bow and the old who are not 100 percent disabled, but are disabled.”

• “Legalizing crossbows will increase injuries to hunters, increased numbers of wounded and lost deer.”

• “Leave the crossbows for disabled people because it is not a challenge to use!”

• “Allowing crossbows during archery season would change the face of hunting as we know it. The safety of the sport would be greatly diminished by the ease and speed at which a bolt can be shot from a crossbow.”

VOTES Question 2: Would you apply for an alligator-hunting permit if Georgia starts a season?

Out of 862 responses, 326 (38 percent) said “Yes,” they would apply for an alligator-hunt permit. Another 191 respondents (22 percent) said they still weren’t sure about the idea, while 345 (40 percent) said ‘no thanks,’ the idea of wrestling an alligator wasn’t on their to-do list. Comments included:

• “I personally would not apply, but I think it should be an option for the state of Georgia.”

• “I might hunt a gator once or twice.”

• “I think alligators should have an open season year-round. They are a nuisance.”

• “I hope that an aggressive alligator reduction plan will be implemented.”

Question 3: Which length limit do you prefer for largemouth bass on Lake West Point?

The Fisheries Section is looking into the idea of reducing the minimum length limit for largemouth bass at West Point. Out of 668 VOTES responses, most anglers preferred a reduction, with 342 (51 percent) saying reduce it to 14 inches, and another 147 (22 percent) preferring a reduction to 12 inches. Only 27 percent want the length limit to remain at 16 inches.

Comments included:

• “I bass fish West Point a lot. Lowering the limit to 14 or 12 inches only caters to the whining of those who can’t seem to ever catch a limit in a tournament. Lowering the standards has never worked. Let’s keep the little fish in the lake and out of the livewells.”

Miscellaneous comments included:

• “What about a reduction of the number of hunters on quota hunts, i.e. B.F. Grant with a quota of 600, 400 show up and 300 hunt the same areas? Too crowded!”

• “Why can’t we hunt on Fort Mountain State Park? They have 3,500 acres and use very little of it for recreation, camping, hiking, etc.”

• “How about night fishing PFAs? Why not allow it? July and 101 degrees in the shade, but can’t night fish the PFAs!?”

• “Allow hunters to purchase up to two doe tags that can be used anytime during the season.”

• “DNR/WRD needs to push Friends of WMAs chapters for each WMA. With cut dollars and hours, the [area managers] need as much help as possible.”

• “Not all clubs have the know-how or equipment to establish quality food plots. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was some sort of hunter-assistance program to help hunters if they wanted to establish food plots on their lands?”

• “Devote more pages to Scrapbook section of your magazine!”

• “I would like to see a primitive-weapons hunt on Clybel WMA.”

• “Why can’t hunters have a target range on Paulding Forest WMA? We buy licenses too.”

• “Allow electric calls on WMAs for crows, bobcats and coyotes.”

• “I am 52 years old and my eyes are not as good as years past, so why not allow scopes for muzzleloaders?”

• “The shot ranger and the hunter were both wrong. Justice was served. I resent WRD saying 12-man jury was wrong. WRD has arrogant attitude sometimes.”

• “I believe the limit on white perch at Lake Oconee could be raised to 50 fish per person. It is costly to drive two hours to the lake and only catch 30 fish when on some trips you may only catch a few because they are not biting.”

• “I would like to see more days to rabbit hunt — open season earlier.”

• “Why are hunters and fishermen the only ones who have to pay to use the state Wildlife Management Areas?”

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