Mississippi hunting regulations still forbid killing any wild animal or wild bird with the aid of bait, but its allowance of and regulations regarding “supplemental deer feeding” opens the door to killing deer over bait.
For practical purposes, baiting deer became legal in Mississippi in 2015, as long as the bait is at least 100 yards from the hunter.
Many hunters put out bait, typically shelled corn, both in feeders and — illegally — in piles, but they are quick to point out they rarely see trophy bucks feeding there during daylight hours. Most hunters still tout natural food sources and planted food plots as the best strategy for pinpointing trophy deer.
“I think the new baiting law is great, but I don’t think hunters can rely on it to kill the big deer,” said C.J. Brown, who operates Remington Country Outfitters, an Internet-based hunting travel agency. “I think you certainly need to put out corn where you can, but I think food plots are pivotal, especially to get the does congregating to have a shot at killing that buck.”
Some hunters fear baiting can increase the nocturnal nature of deer.
“One big problem with baiting is you almost have to do it to keep up with any adjacent properties that are baiting” said hunter Rodger Clark of Yazoo County. “Most of the guys I hunt with, myself included, also believe it makes big bucks turn nocturnal.”
Clark prefers to use timed corn feeders rather than just illegally piling corn on the ground. He offered that competition between deer and other wildlife makes them visit an area soon as the feeder goes off.
Regardless of how many does and young bucks come running to the feeder, Clark said he has never, in his limited experience hunting around feeders, seen a quality buck come running.
“Our best luck is setting the feeder up in the middle of a small field, gulley or something like a power line,” he said. “When that feeder goes off, I’m watching everything but the feeder. He may not move to the corn but having a few does walking past his hiding spot can make him lose his cool and show himself on a wood line or in a ditch.
“All I need is a clear shot at him.”