By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Wednesday, February 3, the Alabama House of Representatives’ Agriculture and Forestry Committee debated legislation which would end Alabama’s law against shooting deer and hogs while they are eating bait.
Currently, it is illegal in Alabama to place a wildlife feeder on private land and then shoot the wildlife that come to eat the feed that is placed there for them to eat. To shoot the deer or hogs you either can not put out bait or have bait in one field and hunt in a neighboring field. Game wardens with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources can and do charge hunters that break this law.
State Representative Alan Boothe (R-Troy) has introduced legislation that would change that for deer and wild hogs. Boothe told the House Agriculture and Forestry Committee that the bill has already passed the Senate committee.
Rep. Boothe said that feral hogs can be devastating to an agricultural crop. House Bill 43 will allow you to bait for hogs or deer. Right now we allow bait within 100 yards. This will bring us into agreement with the states around us.
State Representative Jack W. Williams (R-Wilmer) said that the bill would make it a lot easier for hunting clubs and would provide a boost to our economy.
Rep. Booth said that the feral hogs are devastating and this legislation would make controlling them easier.
Representative Artis J. “A.J.” McCampbell (D-Livingston) said, “I have a problem with this.” I am an old drive hunter. “I believe in giving the deer a fair chance.” Would this apply to deer season? By putting out bait you are drawing the deer. I have problem with this and the big fences.
Rep. Boothe said, “There is no season on feral hogs. The season is set by the Conservation advisory board. If it is deer season and he is waiting on hogs and a big deer comes up then he is within the law to shoot the deer.
Curtis Jones with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources told the committee when asked said, “We don’t have any comments at this particular time
Committee Chairman David Sessions (R-Grand Bay) said that the Deer Management Association said sent a letter to the committee opposing this.
Rep. Bob Fincher (R-Woodland) said that this applies only to private land.
Rep. Tommy Hanes (R-Scottsboro) said that piles of corn will mold and that mold has been shown to kill turkeys and other wildlife. Hanes said that this is not teaching hunting and woodsman skills to the next generation. “You are teaching them to be killers instead of learning hunting skills.” Hanes said what about the deer after the hunting season. They grow dependent on the feed and then all of a sudden it is cut off
Rep. Boothe said that we already allow baiting, you just can’t shoot over it.
Rep. Hanes said that all this was teaching young hunters was to get in a box, pour your corn out, and play your I-phone while waiting for a deer to come so you can shoot it. “You are turning your kids into killers, not deer hunters.”
Rep. Williams said that every hunting club already feeds. We feed 5 or 6 tons a month year round. It is actually harder to shoot fed deer because they are not going to come out as much. They come out, eat their feed, and then go back to cover.
HB 43 was given a favorable report with Representatives McCampbell and Hanes voting “No”. The bill now goes to the full Alabama House of Representatives.