Advancing bucks to the next age class with baiting


Well-Known Member
Our 160 acres is surrounded by smaller properties 5-65 acres. Some of the neighbors put significant effort into baiting with corn and apple piles. I have nothing against the neighbors as baiting is perfectly legal in NC. I'd personally rather not hunt over bait but have been seriously considering adding corn piles to some of my sanctuaries in an attempt to advance a few more bucks to the next age class.

We've only had the property for a year but one thing that really stood out on my trail camera surveys is the younger age class of our bucks. We have a high deer density but not many bucks are making it to 3 years old and even fewer to 4; if any.

My thought is to provide corn in secure cover in an attempt to control more of the evening bed to food movement. Hopefully keeping more deer occupied on our property during hunting hours essentially stalling their ventures to the neighbors bait piles. I have good security cover that's getting better with recent logging. 24 acres select cut in 2013, 34 acres cut in 2015, and 30 acres cut 2017-2018.

Any thoughts from those who have successfully or unsuccessfully tried this?

A few relevant things to consider:
  • Logging operations on our place ended in June so it's been relatively quiet this year when compared to the last few years.
  • I planted roughly 2 total acres of logging roads and a small plot with cereal grains, clover, and a few brassicas. No planted food existed on our place last year.
  • No agriculture exists for miles, either timber or open cattle pasture.
  • We have bears.
  • I've planted quite a few late dropping apples in the core of our property but they won't produce a significant draw for several years. The mature apples on our place (several hundred) finish dropping in October and this was an unusually poor year for them in general.
I'm hoping our WW and WR will be a huge draw late November through the end of deer season but I have a feeling the little I have planted might be eaten to the dirt in short order. We have lots of natural browse at deer level but I don't think that competes with the neighboring bait piles that really can influence deer movement.
I have 1,000 acres and I have the same problem. If I can get one to live past 2.5 I have a much better chance of him living. But the neighbors usually kill my best 2 year olds every year. I used to have so many bucks that I’d watch through the years, but things have changed very fast. It’s very frustrating!
Sounds like you put a lot of effort into it. If you enjoy it keep trying and maybe the deer Gods will look down on you. I wish I could give you more positive news, but I’m pretty disappointed myself. Bucks travel so far especially during the rut, so it makes it really hard to keep them alive. Best of luck to you!

Sent from my iPhone using Deer Hunter Forum
We are getting enough deer to 2 1/2, 3 1/2 and 4 1/2 that the four of us hunting this 605 acres can expect in aggregate to shoot one 3 1/2 or one 4 1/2 and one or two 2 1/2's most years. Some years we all held out for 3 1/2's and none of us had a shot opportunity. We have been at it here for 31 years now and with the current 9 weeks of muzzle loader and rifle season combined, neighbors illegal baiting, neighbors illegally using others people's tags, neighbors shooting after legal shooting times, fence sitters, road hunters, and on and on that is the best we can do. When we started hunting this property 31 years ago two people hunting ten days dawn to dark during peak rut saw four flags running way. So yes we have come a long way but to think we can each shoot a 3 /12 and up each year is not realistic here with the current parameters in place.

With different rules and everyone following them it would of course be different but that is not the reality here.

To answer the original question about baiting; I don't have the experience but it sounds like an excellent plan to me. Even if it gets only a small percentage of deer to an older age you will be closer to your goals. If legal I would definitely do it in addition to good sound property management strategies.
This is something I have thought about and have tried myself in one shape or form. The question I keep bringing myself to is "Why are the deer going to the neighbors?". When it comes down to it I believe pressure is the biggest issue. I have the best food plots, more feeders, bedding, sanctuaries, etc. But none the less I see up and comers on someone's meat pole every year with the caption of "small racked 10pt going downhill" or "meat for the freezer/can't eat the horns" or my favorite....."either I shot him or the neighbors would for sure, ever since they came in deer hunting has gone downhill". I've come to one conclusion and that the locals are more detrimental to the deer herd then people think. Education is a big factor in getting the neighbors on the same page. It's a slow process, kind of like getting deer to the next age class. But I find the more open and honest communication with neighbors the better things get.

For example: We do a really good job at holding deer but none the less a doe or more likely a young buck (1-2 year old) will show up on their 10 acres in front of their bait pile. Since they've been hunting for 4-5 sits without seeing a deer they get all of the ideas mentioned above in their heads and pull the trigger. I don't kill many deer a year. My family doesn't eat the meat like some so if I connect with a buck early season I'm set for a year leaving me and my family plenty of opportunities to share any excess harvest. Now this is where y'all think I'm crazy. There's no better way to get to be friends with someone then taking them hunting and letting them kill "your deer". Telling them you need some help killing some does. You're essentially "keeping your enemy closer". They get to see your operation and how you're doing things right, putting to rest all of the lies they've formulated over the years. Furthermore after the kill make a big deal of pulling the jawbone, weighing the deer, labeling it, etc. Show them your previous harvest records. Show them you're not the one killing all of the deer and really just trying to grow mature deer. Share with them trail camera photos of the young deer, the progression of young bucks to sure enough shooters. Educate them!!! This all sounds crazy but it has paid off for me. Don't show them all of your cards but be honest. You're not giving them free run over your place. You building a relationship and that has to be built on trust. At some point you have to be willing to sacrifice a little to gain a lot. If not you're always going to be fighting them. A big problem I had with two different neighbors is that they are old. They'd shoot any racked deer that would visit their backyard. Being old school they didn't believe in shooting does. So I fill their freezer for them. I give them deer meat. It solves everything. They don't kill my young bucks, they don't have to drag out or butcher a deer and they get processed meat delivered to their door. This might sound ludicrous but have you put a price tag on what having mature deer every year means to you? This, believe it or not has opened the door to me being able to acquire more acreage for FREE!! In all actuality I fold their land into my overall management plan thus being able to control more land and what happens on it. I plant proper food plots, add supplemental feeding. I treat the place like it's my own. I even give them deer quotas. Tell them the truth like "There's a ton of does back here, we need to shoot at least 3, they're eating a lot of the food for these bucks and they're not growing like they should". I tell them to give me a call when they kill a deer. I'll help them clean it or do it for them. I know I'm their minds they think they are winning. They have a guy who takes care of their place, plants food plots for them, feed their deer, etc. But in the end it's the deer who win in return I get what I want. Yes it hasn't always worked as planned. I had a guy think he could just let anyone come over and kill a deer, shot a young buck. I saw very quickly he was just using me. I was very honest in our conversation, that it was a young buck, that killing that many does would effect future hunting opportunities and ultimately if he was going to go down that path he could go back to doing all of it himself (which was doing nothing). He saw how good he had it and quickly got on board. Hell, he even apologized for being a jackass. It has taken years but it is paying off. We have more young deer make it. Our deer population is growing. It has all worked out. Might be something worth considering. As Jimmy Buffett says "It's just a love song from a different point of view"

Sent from my SM-G892A using Tapatalk
Last edited:
Great thinking and a great post Pinesap! You are a very patient and goal oriented person for sure.
Good thoughts Pinesap, that pretty much sums up my thoughts. I’m glad you brought up the education piece. The neighbors I’ve talked to have pointed fingers in different directions and all have said they only shoot mature bucks.
One of the biggest problems is they don’t talk to each other. I’m taking it slow as the out of towner but everyone I’ve met so far are great people and seem very open to ideas on herd health and management.

Almost nobody shoots does, we’re overrun.

Sent from my iPhone using Deer Hunter Forum
weekender...We face the same challenge in N GA. Baiting just became legal this yr in N GA. Everybody is slinging corn. Co op can't keep in in stock. With a firearms season that runs from the 3rd saturday of Oct thru the 2nd sunday of Jan, lots and lots of 1.5 and 2.5 yr old bucks get shot. I bought my property in 2011. We didn't kill a buck until 2012 and then one or more every year from 2012 thru 2015. No bucks killed the past 2 years. Based on summer pics, we have more 2.5 yr old and a couple older bucks than we've ever had. Here's my .02 cents worth...Don't fret it. Focus on improving your property to provide more than your neighbors and you will have enough make it thru that you'll most likely always have a shooter or 2 and a handful of up n comers using your place. I've got a little more land than you..287 acres, but we have a much longer firearms season and lots of hunting pressure.

Couple of thoughts from 8 seasons of doing just what you're working toward:

1) Increase the size of your destination food plots to accommodate multiple doe groups. Our largest plot has expanded from 2.5 acres in 2011 to just under 6 acres today. By mid November it will be flush with grains and brassicas. By early January it will be nipped to about lip height. Neighbors get lazy and fail to keep the corn out. I'll have lush food growing throughout the season. Next time I log I will add at least 2 to 3 more acres to this plot and eventually get it closer to 10 acres. And I'll have a lot of deer using it most every day of their life. On a 160 acre tract, perhaps 2 larger destination plots would be in order if possible.

2) If you pull the trigger you are guaranteed that buck won't make it till next year. Based on the pics from your property thread (which is awesome by the way), you already have some nice 2.5 yr old bucks on your place. Neighbors may very shoot a few of them but chances are they won't get em all. Pass on the ones you choose to and chances are you'll have a few make it thru and call your place home.

If you're ever driving from you place to Atlanta, give me a shout out and plan to drop by for a visit. Nothing I enjoy more than doing what I can to improve our property and fortunate to have a son living close by the farm with the right equipment to do most of the heavy lifting. Of all the things we've done, creating 3 primary destination plots with something growing in them year round, in my opinion, has been the greatest improvement we've made in causing doe groups to call our place home. And...where the doe(s) are in November will dictate where the bucks hang out.
Some great points and advice Triple C. The steep terrain on our place doesn't leave much space for large food plots unfortunately. However, I already have acres of logging roads I could plant and could maintain with edge feathering to ensure they don't get shaded out. There are a few more locations for .25 to 1 acre plots but that would be about max. I'm also planting a good many fruit trees that will drop throughout the fall and early winter.

Thanks for the advice, I'll likely be in the ATL area in the future and will take you up on your offer.
I'm just starting on our Leased Property, but Pine Junky I agree with your approach. I reached out to both neighbors that border us and one responded. He has 300 acres and his brother another 80 acres that form a U around our 80. He informed me that no one else has permission to be on his ground and neither he or his brother has hunted for at least 10 years. He has hinted at giving me permission to hunt on his ground.
Last weekend I was up to check on the Storm Damage and saw both of their gates were open. I texted him to ask if they were there and he ended up calling me. They were not and we both figured the Power Company cut their chains to gain access. I checked his house out for him (he lives 13+ hours away, this is the old family farm) and he couldn't thank me more. In fact he told if there was anything he could ever do for me to just ask.
He has suggested that maybe we can work out a deal that would allow us to use his house for a Camp while we are there, I am looking into that.

The other neighbor has never responded. To bad because all his stands and blinds were destroyed by the storm and I have no way to let him know.

Building a good relationship with your neighbors always works out for the best.

One of the hardest things I've had to overcome is how the older country folks are just plain different. That's not a bad thing either. I've sit many of hours on their front porch just listening never able to do what I needed to get done for that day. In the end though it strengthens relationships. That's great your neighbor is warming to the idea that you're not going anywhere so we might as well get along and combine resources. It pays huge in the long run.

I agree with everyone's idea about furthering the age class. A lot of us just see things differently. One of the big things I'm combating now is the misinformation being spread about CWD. I've had a good amount of people reach out and ask me how do we stop it from getting in out area. Some have "heard" we need to kill as many does as possible others heard it is only in "bucks. I've got a literature that explains what it is and all of the ways that's been tried unsuccessfully to stop it. I pretty much tell people to hunt as normal. If a deer is out of sorts let me know and I will take the head to a collection sight for testing. And no.......a spike buck isn't sick and has CWD.

Sent from my SM-G892A using Tapatalk
If you want more bears, then go ahead with the corn plan. But at the monthly bear group meetings, those furry things anounce a local food source whether it be bee hives or corn and they come calling, eating till they puke and then eating again. I once had 7 bear calling my 100 home. I quit the corn for anything and now only have a few that hang around.
Corn does very little in impacting herd maturity, and in some ways actually keeps mature bucks spooked. If I put corn out, it is only in limited amounts in Nov to compete against my 3 neighbors. Not sure if it is even needed then.
Best way to get older bucks , control your access, keep pressure to a minimum, and don't shoot any buck you don't want. Establish as large and as many santuaries as possible and never enter them except perhaps Jan/Feb. Age is the main effector of racks and size. Let your neighbors be the deer's aggravation and they will find the safety of your land. And beware, in heavy hunted states, a 4 yo buck knows not to show himself. Good luck.
Last edited:
Good point on the bears dogghr, that has been a big reason there isn't any corn on our place yet. We have bears but I doubt more than 3 or 4 use the property regularly. My neighbor baits with corn most of the year, his feeder is 10 yards from our property border. The only animal he has pictures of this fall are bears, they have taken over his spot.

My plan is similar to yours, limited amounts during rifle season to give the deer options if they just has to have corn. I'll be on the property around 10 November and will leave around 17 November which happens to be the rifle opener. I'm thinking a few bags of corn in some strategically placed areas will at least give them options. That will come second after I put out a few more bags of WR on the logging roads I missed in September
Good point on the bears dogghr, that has been a big reason there isn't any corn on our place yet. We have bears but I doubt more than 3 or 4 use the property regularly. My neighbor baits with corn most of the year, his feeder is 10 yards from our property border. The only animal he has pictures of this fall are bears, they have taken over his spot.

My plan is similar to yours, limited amounts during rifle season to give the deer options if they just has to have corn. I'll be on the property around 10 November and will leave around 17 November which happens to be the rifle opener. I'm thinking a few bags of corn in some strategically placed areas will at least give them options. That will come second after I put out a few more bags of WR on the logging roads I missed in September
I run a feeder hanging from a guy wire with winch that is set on the least amount of drop twice a day. One filling and I'm done with it for the 3-6 weeks and don't have to worry about it. I know your time is limited right now, but may could be in your plans. And I know you are familiar with bears, that was more directed to those not lucky enough yet to have the pets.:rolleyes:
You can forget about that here in Northern Michigan... the amount of hunters and the amount of bait that each of them uses is unreal, so it wouldn’t work here. But, if you can outcompete your neighbors with bait and cover (and no pressure) then I would think you could keep the bucks on your place more than they normally would be, keeping them from getting shot

Sent from my iPhone using Deer Hunter Forum