A buck in velvet standing in a corn pile.

Baiting for deer in Georgia has been legal statewide since 2018, when the state’s Board of Natural Resources voted in favor of the proposal.

There are a couple caveats to that regulation, however:

  1. Baiting for deer is ONLY legal on private land. You cannot use bait to attract deer on any of Georgia’s public lands.
  2. You MUST have written permission to hunt over bait on any private lands that you do not own.

That first rule is pretty well known by most Peach State deer hunters, but that second one is not. I don’t know how strictly it’s enforced, but if I were using bait on private land other than my own, I would take the time to get written permission from the landowner.

Also keep in mind that some lease companies DO NOT allow the use of bait on their lands, even though it is legal. So if you’re a member of a hunting lease and plan on using bait, be sure to check with the timber company to ensure they allow it.

What is Considered Bait?

Bait is defined as corn, wheat, other grains, salts, apples, and other feed that has been placed, exposed, deposited, distributed, or scattered so as to constitute a lure, attraction, or enticement to game animals or game birds.

What Animals Can You Hunt Over Bait in Georgia?

The short answer is deer and hogs. No other game animals can be hunted with the aid of bait. In fact, taking any big game, other than deer, over bait is subject to a fine of $5,000 and/or imprisonment up to 12 months.

It’s also worth noting, that it is illegal to place bait in a manner that will cause hunting on an adjacent property to be prohibited.

The Odd Story of How Baiting Became Legal

Back in June of 2018, Georgia’s Board of Natural Resources voted in favor of a proposal that effectively made it legal for Georgia deer hunters to hunt over bait on private lands statewide. The new regulation took effect prior to the 2018-2019 deer season.

The decision came just months after Georgia legislators failed to push a bill through the House that would have eliminated the North/South Deer Zones and made deer hunting over bait legal statewide.

Governor Deal then decided to take matters into his own hands and issued an Executive Order which directed the DNR to fix the disparity between the two zones. However, the DNR did not have the regulatory authority to legalize hunting over bait in the North Zone or to combine the two zones. Both require an act of legislature.

What the DNR could do is move the line separating the two deer zones, and that is exactly what the proposal did.

The Northern Deer Zone now consists of all federally owned lands within the boundaries of the Chattahoochee National Forest. The Southern Deer Zone is all privately owned land outside of the Chattahoochee National Forest.

That means private land hunters across the state are now able to hunt deer over bait, providing they have permission to do so from the landowner.

It just goes to show you where there’s a will, politicians will find a way!

Your Thoughts

I’d love to hear your thoughts on whether baiting should be legal in Georgia in the comments section below!

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