I felt a little déjà vu when I read the story about the NC Wildlife Commissioners voting to allow a very limited use of bait by still hunters on the NC Sportsman Magazine site.

“David Cobb (the director of the Commission’s Division of Wildlife Management) presented a graphic that showed 4-to-1 opposition — 80 percent against vs. 20 percent for — these rule changes, but they still voted for them,” said Greg Culpepper, a veteran bear hunter from Linville Falls who hunts bears with dogs and still-hunts. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.”

The proposals included one that allows the hunting of bears over non-processed foods (bait) on private lands for the first six days of bear season in coastal and mountain areas, and one allowing bears to be taken over unprocessed bait during the deer gun season in the Piedmont, which includes 39 counties.

This was a very hot topic I guess because I stumbled into it when I stopped by the NC Camo booth at the Dixie Deer Classic and heard almost the exact text of the article. I’m not opposed to baiting and I don’t think it will ruin what all of us will agree is a vibrant and successful bear repopulation up to this point in North Carolina.
My conversation started out with Dick Hamilton the former director of the NC Wildlife Commission and as we went on Mr. Culpeper joined in. At some point Mr. Holt showed up as well.

“Baiting of bear is not fair chase” Boone & Crockett recognize animals taken over bait as long as that is a legal practice. No one says you have to bait but hunters need to stop throwing stones at each other over methods. The reality is that the NCWRC had to address the issue of the expanding bear population and its growth into more human populated areas. In the piedmont in particular bear sightings are becoming more common and these bears will be taken by deer hunters who happen to cross path with a bear. Many of deer hunters use bait, which is legal in North Carolina, and if they killed a bear they’d find themselves in a similar predicament as bear hound hunters found themselves in prior to the law change in 2007.

“We don’t kill bears at bait piles,” he said. “We release dogs that chase bears; it’s what our dogs live to do. If the bear stops (to fight dogs), then we can observe the bear and see if it’s one we want to shoot or we’ll pull the dogs away and go look for a bigger bear. The 2007 law is used now to justify killing 25 percent of North Carolina’s — for equity — when there’s never been a fairness problem. Still-hunters kill the vast majority of bears in North Carolina.”

This is simple not true the statistics show that the majority of bears killed by hunters in North Carolina are killed with the aide of hounds.

“Look at the bears from the states that allow baiting of bear….. a 300 lb bear from Maine is a trophy…. We have bears that go over 600 lbs” Yes we do and our bears in the eastern part of the state don’t hibernate 5 months out of the year. They are up and walking around consuming food and growing so that really isn’t a fair comparison.
“Still hunters already bait” I was offered as evidence a NC Bear Hunting Guide’s brochure where he talks about putting out corn and cleaning it up prior to the season. Really? This is a legal practice and a pretty nasty attack on fellow hunters who are doing nothing wrong. A pro hunting group attacking an outfitter and an industry over legal hunting methods is absolutely shameless.
I’m afraid that we will devour each other and the anti-hunters won’t have to really amount any type of effort. We have a lot of issues on the table as sportsmen…… closing of the outerbanks……. bear hunting methods……. Deer hunting methods……. Protection of coyotes & wolf hybrids…… recreational fishing vs commercial…. The list is endless.
Sad day when all us camo hat wearing people start picking up sides.