By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday, February 18, the Alabama House of Representatives passed House Bill 43, which would end Alabama’s law against shooting deer and hogs while they are eating bait.
Under current Alabama law, it is illegal 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) introduced this legislation that would change that for deer and wild hogs. 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.
The bill would simply exempt whitetail deer and feral hog hunters from the long standing ban on hunting over bait. For hunters of other species of game animals, the current laws and regulations would remain in force section.
Rep. Jack W. Williams (R-Wilmer) 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.
Supporters of the legislation say 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) objected to the bill in committee, “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.
Rep. Tommy Hanes (R-Scottsboro) opposed the bill in committee and 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. 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. Hanes was concerned that feed poured out on the ground would mold and the mold would kill turkeys and other wildlife. The full house adopted Hanes amendment that the bait not be poured out on the ground. The bill now reads: “A landowner or an agent, servant, employee, or another person authorized by the landowner in writing may awfully bait the landowner’s property for white tail deer or feral swine in accordance with the act adding this subsection. Placement of bait may not be on the ground but must be in a container, tub, trough-type feeder, or timed mechanical feeder.”
A second amendment by Rep. Mike Jones (R-Andalusia) just changed the word “shocked” corn to “shucked” corn.
HB43 passed the House 62 to 35.
The bill now goes to the Senate, although Rep. Boothe said that a senate version of the same bill has reportedly already passed the Senate Agriculture and Forestry Committee so passage could be very close if the Senate puts the bill on their calendar and votes for the House amended version of the bill.