bear baiting barrel

In North Carolina, there seems to be a lot of confusion with wildlife violations that involve baiting. The confusion can be not only in the field but also at the courthouse. A large percentage of wildlife violations involve baiting.

What is Baiting in North Carolina?

The definition of baiting differs depending on the type of game being hunted.

For instance, the “corn pile” that is used to harvest deer would clearly be illegal for harvesting a bear. Those feeders that are used during deer season could also cause problems during turkey season. For many years now, using bait for deer hunting has been legal in North Carolina and, in fact, has become a common practice among most hunters.

While there is proposed legislation to allow baiting for bears, at this time, it is not legal. Likewise, it is unlawful to use bait in the taking of wild turkeys.

When You Can Be Charged With Baiting

A North Carolina hunter can be charged with baiting not only if he knew but if he SHOULD HAVE KNOWN that he was hunting either over or near where bait had been placed. Obviously, hunters should be cautious when hunting bears or turkeys in areas where deer hunting takes place. An area is considered baited for 10 days after all bait has been consumed or removed.

A good rule of thumb is to scout the area you are hunting to make sure it is free from any type of baiting activity. Additionally, the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission does a good job on their website discussing issues regarding baiting and is a good reference source.

What Can You Use to Bait Deer in North Carolina?

Corn is the most widely used bait for deer in North Carolina. It contains several essential nutrients that can improve the health of deer and their ability to survive leading into winter.

Other foods that can be used for bait for hunting deer include:

  • Peanut butter
  • Apples
  • Salt

Baiting Migratory Birds and Wild Turkeys

It is illegal to bait wild turkeys in North Carolina. Wild turkeys can be hunted during wild turkey season which begins April 1st. Hunting season for turkeys is short in North Carolina and ends on May 6th.

State and federal law prohibits the taking of migratory game birds by baiting.

How Do Federal Laws Apply to Baiting?

Adding to the baiting confusion are the federal laws regarding migratory birds. Dove and waterfowl hunters need to be aware of the federal regulations under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act which can be more restrictive than state regulations.

For example, bush-hogging a field may be perfectly legal for dove hunting, however, it is unlawful if done in waterfowl impoundments. The state and federal regulations make it incumbent upon every hunter of migratory birds to understand both the state and federal laws as they pertain to baiting. Again, another good resource for answers is the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Law Enforcement website

Common Penalties for Breaking a Hunting or Fishing Law

There are severe punishments for breaking North Carolina hunting laws or fishing laws. The penalties vary greatly, but the most common ones are:

  • Fines
  • Losing hunting privileges
  • Imprisonment

Frequently Asked Questions During Hunting Season

When can I bait deer in NC?

Baiting deer is legal in surveillance areas in North Carolina between September 1st and January 1st.

Is baiting deer in NC on public land allowed?

Placing bait on game lands is prohibited unless you get written authorization, except when allowed for trapping.

Can I hunt at night?

Yes, but only on private land and only certain animals can be hunted. Laws regarding night hunting may depend on the county.

Do I need a hunting license to hunt on my own property in North Carolina?

No, you don’t need a hunting license for your own property in North Carolina. A landowner or person leasing land, can hunt, trap, and fish without a license.

Can I shoot a deer in my backyard in NC?

Yes, you can shoot a deer in your backyard in NC.

What guns can you use when deer hunting in North Carolina?

Deer can be taken with a handgun during the established gun season. There are no restrictions when it comes to the barrel length or caliber.

Does bear baiting still exist?

Bear baiting does still exist and is legal in nine states, but not in North Carolina. The states where bear baiting is legal include:

  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Idaho
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • New Hampshire
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

In Utah, bait hunting is allowed for bowhunting only.

Other Areas Of Criminal Law

Our criminal defense attorneys are able to represent you for a variety of charges, including:

Have You Been Charged with a Wildlife Violation?

As many hunters know, there is no better time to get checked by a law enforcement officer than on opening day of dove season and during the waterfowl season. Don’t let the urge for a good day in the field turn into a bad day at court. If you need help with North Carolina hunting violations call 919-615-2473 or contact a Raleigh attorney today.

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Jeff is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Raleigh. He has effectively represented the citizens of Wake County and all over North Carolina since 1989.

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