Is it legal to hunt deer over bait in Georgia?
The short answer is YES — on private lands with permission. The use of bait is not permitted on public lands, and some timber companies may prohibit leasees from baiting on their properties.
One often overlook caveat to being able to bait on private land is that you must have written permission from the landowner to hunt over that bait.
The Definition of 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.
How Statewide Baiting Became Legalized in Georgia
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 does 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. Some private timber companies could still ask leasees not to bait on their properties.