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Do Baiting Laws Need to Be Changed?


Should duck farming be outlawed?  

18 members have voted

  1. 1. Should duck farming be outlawed?

    • Yes, the laws need to be updated to make this practice illegal.
    • No, there's nothing wrong with growing crops with no intention of havesting anything but ducks.

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Currently, the law allows waterfowlers to add water to grain fields, but does not allow for the adding of grain to water.


What's the difference?

There isn't any.


When these laws were written, the flooded crops allowance meant that hunters could shoot birds over harvested or unharvested grain fields that had become flooded due to natural occurences.


These days, however, big money duck clubs are building huge impoundments designed and engineered to allow for the easy flooding of grains that were never meant to be harvested, but merely planted for the purpose of flooding to attract waterfowl in droves.


These crops are planted for no other reason than to be flooded later on when the grains have matured.

The fields have dams, drains, and pumps to make sure that the "crops" get flooded just in time for duck season.


In my opinion, this is baiting, and therefore should be just as illegal as tossing a five gallon bucket of corn into a swamp.


What do you say?

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have you ever seen someone add loose grain to the pond before it is flooded? Thats all it takes to be a duck shooter but us duck hunters prefer to find the ducks . Just last year I got invited to go hunt in a flooded bean field and it was the first time I have ever seen wild greenheads trying to land while you are setting out decoys that seems to me that , that just ain't write.

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  • 2 weeks later...

if your not allowed to bait any other game animals then why should you be allowed to bait ducks? To me baiting is kind of like poaching in a way, you make the best possible situation for ducks to come in instead doing homework scouting out the best possible place to set out decoys call in ducks and actually work for your limit. I could see baiting at a club for young hunters or the disabled.

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I beleive if you farm and own the land you should be able to do what ever you like to it, even to benifit your waterfowl shooting. If your farming fields strictly for the use of flooding and then hunting and you have no other fields intended for public or personal food production yeilds, then yes i think there should be some sorte of hunting restrictions applied or taxation maybe. Sometimes flooding certain fields can divert the birds and keep them from eating certain local crops. It's a tough one but flooding of fields can account for a lot of wing shooting for some people. At least the people are putting in the time and effort to grow the crop before flooding, this does take a lot of time and money and effort. If your just throwing a buch of food around a pond, then yes this is a direct act of baiting waterfowl and should not be allowed. There are loop holes in every system and always will be and if your willing to go the extra mile to do so then right on you, hard work pays off!

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I have had some interesting conversations with a senior federal officer regarding such practices.

He feels that growing and flooding crops is nothing more than a rich man's way of baiting.


They are taking advantage of antiquated laws which in the past allowed hunters to shoot waterfowl over fields that became flooded due to natural processes.


Obviously, his job is to enforce existing laws and legislate, but we're going to be talking more about this and he has offered to give me some assistance in the procedures necessary to lobby for changes in the laws.


To me, flooding crops is in no way part of the normally accepted agricultural process, except with rice and cranberries.

Therefore, it should be considered conspicuous and deliberate baiting (using food products to concentrate numbers of wild game for the sole purpose of harvesting said game).


To me, it's no different than hunting deer in pens.

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I'm not really an advocate for either side here as I've never been exposed to it. A couple of questions do come to mind.


Do the flooded crops benefit the migrating waterfowl? Obviously not every duck or goose that passes over these flooded crops is shot and killed, so the question is whether or not food there is a benefit to the birds that are passing through, an easy meal as it were, on a long journey.


Also, would this new legislation include the people that plant food plots to attract big game animals? I see a lot of commercials on the hunting channels about food plots for deer, to attract them and help them grow the large antlers, and products to prepare the ground for the food plot, etc. It would seem to me that this is the very same type of thing you are talking about, but only for big game instead of waterfowl.

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I don't really see what is wrong with it. Whats the difference between planting sunflower for doves, corn for deer, and wheat for pheasant and geese? When the farmers here plant winter wheat, it really draws the geese in. The tall wheat holds loads of pheasant. The sunflower holds loads of doves and the corn gets the deer nice and fat. I don't see the difference between finding a farmer to let you hunt a field that he planted and flooded for harvesting purposes that draws in ducks or planting one in your own field for the soul purpose of hunting ducks.

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The flooded crops hold waterfowl until the weather absolutely pushes them out. Even then, mallards would rather ski on ice in flooded grain than to pack up and migrate to open waters.


Flooded grain also creates a support system for an inflated population of waterfowl that eventually have to return to nesting grounds and compete for a place to lay their eggs.

When the grain's all gone and they do move back up, their circumstances go from feast to famine.


Welfare ducks don't do well when they have to go back to work and live on the land.


However, neither of those are the core issue.


The core issue is the fact that big money duck clubs can afford to grow and flood 100 acres of barley just for the purpose of drawing in ducks to shoot.

Meanwhile, other hunters in the area go all day without hardly seeing a bird, because the fat cats have them locked up and on a string to their flooded grain.

In fairness, the little guy should be allowed to toss 100 lbs. of corn into a pothole or pond.

He's not going to kill all the ducks either, so some would benefit from his feeding as well.


As far as baiting other wildlife with food plots and feeders goes, that's another issue, but my opinion is that it's just as wrong as flooding grain fields.

When I see those guys in Texas shoot those huge whitetails as they step out into a trail with scattered corn on the ground, I just shake my head and wonder how they can possibly convince themselves that they're hunting.


My state, VA, has outlawed the purposeful feeding of deer under any circumstances.

I think the same needs to be done for waterfowl.

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So, say I have a 500 acre plot that has almost no animals on it. Instead of being allowed to plant some corn/wheat/barly/sunflower to draw in some game on my property. I have to go all out and actually farm it so that I am legal. Or, I have to go to public hunting areas and compete with other hunters for a good spot. No thanks.


I really don't see anything wrong with tossing a bag of corn into a pond to draw in some ducks. You get to shoot a few and a few get fed but don't stay as you said on the flooded fields. But if I want to be allowed to draw in game on my property, they are going to be allowed to have their flooded hunting fields. Perhaps we could limit them somehow but I don't see how we would do that.


Maybe we shouldn't be allowed to use decoys or calls either.

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Well this is a touchy and tricky issue IMO. Personally, If I could legally throw a 50 pound bag of corn into the spots I hunted this past season, I would. North Carolina isn't exactly know for its great duck hunting. A very good day for me is to see three or more groups of ducks and get a shot a maybe one or two groups if I'm lucky. I did bag more birds this season because I patterned my gun and improved my shooting skills. I ended up with two ducks and four geese.( one more duck and goose then last year). But fired less then two boxes of shells the entire season in the dozen+ times I got out. The last two hunts I never fired a shot. If baiting would get a few more ducks and geese to come to the few hunting spots NC has, then I would. Any spot that ducks feed at, natural or not, could be considered baited if you know ducks feed their.

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The core issue is the fact that big money duck clubs can afford to grow and flood 100 acres of barley just for the purpose of drawing in ducks to shoot. Meanwhile, other hunters in the area go all day without hardly seeing a bird, because the fat cats have them locked up and on a string to their flooded grain. In fairness, the little guy should be allowed to toss 100 lbs. of corn into a pothole or pond. He's not going to kill all the ducks either, so some would benefit from his feeding as well.


So essentially it's that the guys with money are getting all the benefits and fun (this of course isn't a new concept in life).


I definitely see your point of view. I understand why the others are doing it as well, because it makes them money when their constituents come to hunt their club, and or the land owners do it so that they don't have to compete on public lands with every other Tom, Dick and Harry.


It does need to be a level playing field, though. Not sure how you would achieve that, but I'm sure there is some sort of middle ground.


I really don't see anything wrong with tossing a bag of corn into a pond to draw in some ducks. You get to shoot a few and a few get fed but don't stay as you said on the flooded fields.


In fairness, the little guy should be allowed to toss 100 lbs. of corn into a pothole or pond. He's not going to kill all the ducks either, so some would benefit from his feeding as well.


Hmm. Two wrongs don't make a right. If it's wrong in anyones opinion to do it, then even the "little guy" shouldn't do it, but I think that's the point Tucker is trying to make. As for dropping corn or feed out there at all, the biggest reason I can see to not do it is that it isn't natural. Wild animals that get handouts begin to expect those handouts and eventually can't survive without them.


Don't believe me? Check out the National Elk Refuge that's over in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Those elk survived for what, thousands of years or more before white men came to the valley and started feeding them? That herd wouldn't survive now without the current feeding program. The waterfowl that get fed, year after year, have learned where they can go to get a meal (at least the ones that survive from year to year have). That's the danger of constantly feeding (or should we say baiting) them. Undoubtedly they alter their path of migration, and whether or not it's detrimental to the species or a benefit is hard to say - I don't have that kind of data.


Any spot that ducks feed at, natural or not, could be considered baited if you know ducks feed their.


Not according to the law. Baiting is when you place food that is not native to the environment or natural to the animal in question, in an area for the express purpose of luring said animal into that area for whatever purpose - whether to capture it, kill it, or observe it, or whatever. If I'm out in the woods and find Bambi munching on some grass, that has nothing to do with baiting him in, unless of course I went out and planted a nice plot of Kentucky Blue Grass for Bambi to enjoy and to draw him in. Therein lies the difference.


Overall, it's a good argument. I see why both sides feel the way they do, and I'm sure that people that are for it probably have some good arguments as well (other than money I would hope). I can't say that I'm decided, one way or another, but I think I'd have to lean towards not baiting them in.


I go out and hunt on public lands. This was my first season to waterfowl hunt and I was able to harvest a few ducks without baiting any in. I didn't call any in. I didn't use any decoys either. I walked through the river bottom and jumped a few ponds. Having done that I know that others can be successful without baiting the birds in.


I have no problems with the use of decoys or calls, though each is certainly a form of baiting or would you call that tricking. :p

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I don't get the difference between hunting in a field that a farmer created to make some money and one that you made to lure in ducks and geese. They both lure in the birds the same. I hardly ever use decoys and calls, usually, I find a good place on the river that the ducks and geese like to fly and wait until some pass over, I do very well, and if I had a dog that would retrieve birds, I would shoot the ones that are over water and I would get my limit very quickly. I don't get whats with the fat cats being the only ones doing the impoundments. If my family owned the land we lived on (we rent it) we would be able to plant a barley field and flood it, at most it would cost 1-2 thousand dollars. Thats about the price of a SBE II. You could even split the cost between a few hunting buddies. If these birds would get used to "baiting" I don't see the difference of farmed crops and unfarmed crops. They are both "baits" whether you use them or not. If we can't use unfarmed crops, we shouldn't be allowed to hunt on farmed crops. I don't agree with people making money off of it like the "fat cats" but I see nothing wrong with a few guys making some land into a duck haven. But in order to take one, we must take the other.

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I don't get the difference between hunting in a field that a farmer created to make some money and one that you made to lure in ducks and geese.




Ground that had a crop harvested is surely going to drop some of that harvest on the ground, but it's not going to be like a field that is left unharvested for the animals to come and have their fill.


Sure, both could potentially draw birds in, but farm ground that was harvested isn't usually going to be flooded during waterfowl season and have standing water on it.

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So, outlawing it would do what? Make them so they have to harvest the grain, or not allowed to make the impoundment. Around here, the geese eat winter wheat, the winter wheat is available to them all through the winter and summer and is harvested in fall. I have yet to see any "welfare geese" here. There is a pond in the city here that has more ducks then you can shake a stick at. There are three fast food places next door and these ducks get to eat french fries every day. When it freezes over, they leave. Even though they can still get fed. There are ponds like that all over, whether the ducks leave or not. Doesn't it hurt the population? Not that I know of.

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To outlaw it would make it so they could not grow the crops for the express purpose of baiting in waterfowl.


The reasons for this would be to make it so that everyone in an area has a fair chance at migrating birds, rather than just people with lots of money. Even if planting a field would only cost a couple of thousand dollars, and even if you split that up between ten guys to reduce the cost, it shouldn't come down to those that have the money have greater advantage over those who don't.


I believe that is the concept that Tucker is trying to convey.

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Yes, skidaho stated my position very eloquently.


I believe it's a great injustice to have our children growing up to believe that you have to pay more to get better hunting opportunities.


There's also the issue of over-sustaining duck and goose populations in the South and then having these welfare recipients go back up north and compete with true wild birds for nesting and feeding resources.

These farmed birds have not had to forage and work for aliving the way the true wild birds have, and they are cheating the survival of the fittest tests that would normally cull the less hearty birds from the flocks. If a flu outbreak did occur, don't be too surprised to see it hit the big flocks that have been spending their days chomping on corn and sleeping the rest of the day, rather than those that are out there living the life of a truly wild species.

Without the natural selection process, weaker birds can thrive, and they'll only show their weakness when disease hits the masses.


And, as I already stated, these impoundments tend to hold ducks in areas longer than they would stay there if they were only feeding on natural forage and waste grains.


Duck farming is a short-term bonus for the guys who are doing it, but in the long run, it's detrimental to the sport, the game, and the sportsmen.

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USFWS warns hunters about baited fields


Bismarck Tribune



As the early Canada goose season nears its Friday opener, migratory game bird hunters need to make sure they aren't set up in a baited field.


That's the word in this drought year from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


Many farmers' fields yielded stunted small grains that weren't harvested, especially in the southern part of North Dakota, Rich Grosz, the USFWS special agent in Bismarck, said Wednesday.


"If the farmer doesn't harvest and goes typically to discing, tilling or things of that nature, it makes a baited field because it was never harvested," he said.


Manipulating a field increases loose grain availability on the ground and creates an unfair advantage to the hunter, Grosz explained. Agricultural crops include wheat, corn, barley, oats, flax, beans, peas and similar crops. Manipulation practices can be rolling, burning, discing, flattening, mowing, brush-hogging or similar actions, he said.


Species covered by the baiting regulations are ducks, geese, cranes, swans and coots. Resident game birds, such as pheasants, sharp-tailed grouse or Hungarian partridges, are not affected by baiting, Grosz said.


Wheat and other small grain crops were especially affected by heat and drought in the southern portions of North Dakota and much of South Dakota, Grosz added.


"The primary focus is small grains, but it could be corn up in northern North Dakota that did not produce and was zeroed out," he said.


Hunters should inspect a field to see if it has been harvested or just knocked down, Grosz said.


"If hunters still are not sure, contact the landowner or whoever has control over that land and ask them, 'Did you harvest that crop?' Do some homework," he continued. "If hunters do that, a lot of these concerns or questions will be abated."


Grosz compares an agricultural cycle not impacted by perverse weather conditions to three links to a chain.


"First there's normal agriculture planting, then there is a normal agriculture harvest at the right time of year and with the right type of machinery to remove grain from the field. Then there's normal post-harvest manipulation," he said.


For many producers this year, the sequence was broken because the harvest didn't happen.


"That's causing the baiting situation," he said. "We're trying to get sportsmen and women to keep those three things in mind. You have to form a circle."





And these fields will be deemed baited next spring too.


Being the drought is from TX to the CA border, and this is a Federal law, beware in the other states too.


And remember--it is not just the feed field that is off limits, but their travelling to and from their roost to the feed field are off limits too per the Federal laws on baited fields. So running traffic if they are headed to the baited field is not legal either.



this was on the duckhunting forum i visit. it doesn't mention flooding, but goose fields normaly aren't flooded. on the other hand every conservation area in my state is baited acording to this. fields are flooded and crops planted just for wildlife sometimes more then half the field is just knocked down. in the managed dove areas patches of standing sunflowers were just left.

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Why so complicated??? Not sure if MT is included in that but if it is, then the one field I have permission to hunt I can't hunt anymore because the farmer did a bad cut job?? What advantage are we getting here, decoys are an advantage, hevi-shot shells are an advantage, chokes are an advantage. I don't see how an unharvested field is an advantage, they are still going to land and eat there, I see nothing wrong with getting your limit while they are doing that. Plus it keeps the birds in the air for other hunters. So far, we can't make flooded fields, we can't "manipulate" a field, whats next? We can't hunt their favorite places to feed because that too is an unfair advantage? We shouldn't be allowed to use decoys and calls because those are both an unfair advantage. I can understand the flooded fields if it does cause welfare birds. But a farmer not harvesting his field because it hasn't fully matured, we should still be allowed to hunt it. I could see how other people would take an advantage of that and purposefully cut their field badly, which might cause a problem.


This post is getting complicated and I'm not going to change any views here so I'll just finish my season, (only 6 days left) and see what kind of regulations there are next season, and try to follow them as best I can.

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I think the USFWS warning has to be read between the lines.

Basically, they're saying, "Look guys, we know that there was no yield this year in these areas. If we see corn or wheat in fields that obviously didn't mature, due to the severe climatical conditions, we're going to assume that you have added grain where there was none."


Yes, hunting over waste grain from typical harvesting is fine by me, but when you grow 100 acres of barley and flood it just for the ducks and your high dollar clients, then that's just baiting, plain and simple.


The guy I'm talking about probably doesn't even own a combine, yet he raises 100's of acres of grain each year.

Flooding barley and wheat to just the right depth makes for quick and easy access by the ducks and the hunters.


Again, going back on point, the original exception to the law was put into place to allow for the hunting of waterfowl in fields that had become flooded due to natural and unavoidable processes. Prior to the exemption, farmers who had harvested or unharvested grain in fields flooded by rains could not hunt them due to baiting laws.

Now, the fat cats are using that loophole to grow huge amounts of grain with no intention of harvesting it, and then through controlled processes such as damming and flooding, introducing just the right amount of water to allow the ducks to paddle up to a head of wheat and start chomping.


When you have that setup, you don't need decoys, scouting, calls, hevi-shot, or even camo.

You could literally stand out there in blaze orange and catch them with a landing net.

They're coming and they're coming back again and again until they're either killed or the season runs out.


This is why you see them coming in by the thousands on the tv shows, when you can't get one lone greenhead to drop into your public water spread with all the sweet calling and mojo action you can muster.


Those guys calling on those shows could just as well be whistling "Dixie" or playing Fiddy Cent on a boom box.

Those birds are on a string that runs right through their stomachs.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just to give a visual to what I'm saying, here's a picture from the 100 acre barley field that was flooded.


Those are mallards, by the way.




Again, ALL of the grain that was grown was left intact for no other reason than to attract waterfowl.


As you can see, it worked, and it's great for the guys who pay $$$$ to shoot (no hunting involved) them.

But what about the guys like you and me who are just down the road and trying to find a good spot on public lands and waters?

Are we ever going to see these birds, or are they all going to wind up like this?



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  • 2 weeks later...

I can understand everyone's concern with adding water to food, I believe the southern states have seen a drastic change in the migration patterns over the years. We don't get nearly the mallards along the gulf coast that we used to get, and I believe these flooded agricultural fields are the main factor.


I do believe, however, that outlawing this practice would cause more harm to duck hunters than anything. If farmers were not allowed to hunt in their rice fields in Louisiana, all the ducks would pile into these safe refuges. By allowing hunting, it forces the ducks to move around.


I think this would be tricky to regulate. I think if you can show that its necessary to flood your fields to grow your crops (rice fields) it should be legal. Perhaps there could be a way to prevent people from fields that are unnecessarily flooded when it comes to crop harvesting. There is no reason a farmer would need to flood soybean or corn fields, except to hunt.


I believe Farmers have every right to hunt their agricultural fields cause I've seen what a single flock of geese can do to a field over night.


So I can agree with outlawing some of these practices in which agricultural fields are flooded for the sole purpose of creating habitat to hunt over. However, I do believe it should be legal to hunt over fields that require flooding for the purpose of harvesting crops. I don't think its a good idea to go ahead and legalize adding food to your ponds.


Once again I think this will be hard to regulate, because where do you draw the line? A ton of farmers in Louisiana flood their fields to crawfish. So should they be allowed to hunt these crawfish ponds? If so, what would stop a farmer from flooding a cornfield and saying, he flooded it to catch crawfish?

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