How to Attract Deer Without Baiting


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Whether you are keen to catch some in a photo or let them enjoy the security of the space in your garden, be sure to learn how to attract deer humanely. You may already wonder – is it even possible to attract deer without baiting?

You can bring deer to your yard without the need for setting up bait. Baiting is common among hunters who want to capture deer strategically. Zero-bait hunting is often difficult, and there is some disagreement over whether or not bait-free attraction is truly effective in such scenarios.

However, that’s on the hunt- what about at home? Let’s take a look at how you can attract deer to your yard without the need for bait.

Is it always necessary to bait deer to attract them?

Not always – as deer can be attracted by various natural scenery, such as long grass and sweet, organic smells (not necessarily from bait).

Seasoned hunters generally agree that using bait is effective at attracting deer. These are extremely timid creatures, and as a result, they need much encouragement to show any confidence in coming forward.

However, baiting is not only considered cruel depending on the circumstances, it is not always legal, either. Even feeding deer molasses is deemed to be illegal under some state laws, meaning it’s crucial to check your regional legislature before considering bait of any kind.

‘Bait’ is also a word commonly used associated with hunting for food or for sport. However, if you’ve come this far, it’s likely you simply want to attract deer to your backyard to photograph or watch from afar. 

In this scenario, you can do more than purely leave sweet treats for them to pique their interest.

How can I attract deer without baiting them into my yard?

Deer adore verdant, natural areas that seem familiar to them. In order to attract deer to your property, you will need to make your yard as wild as you possibly can. One way of doing this is simply by letting the grass grow. Deer love tall grass as they can hide in it, and will often feed on long enough strands. 

A mown lawn will hardly appeal to a deer – they will simply move on, assuming that food is plentiful for them elsewhere. As well as rewilding your lawn, however, you may wish to consider growing a series of wild shrubs that deer love to use as hiding spots in the wild.

Deer look for natural security more than anything else – they hate being out in the open. For example, you may want to consider planting wax myrtles or bayberry shrubs. These vary in height but are proven to give deer a little bit of extra natural camouflage (even if you’re not a threat to them).

Believe it or not, deer love to frolic around near oak trees, too. Oak twigs and even acorns prove to be tasty, nutritious snacks for deer when they are out in the open. What’s more, fully-grown oak trees are impressively large and offer plenty of shade and coverage. Deer are likely to use such coverage to hide under while they feed.

Consider water features, troughs, or natural pools of fresh water to host at the edge of your yard. Even if they have plenty to eat, if they do not have a reliable source of water, deer are not likely to stay for very long. Simply using a water basin, tub, or even a small pool and filling regularly with water will ensure they have a steady source of H2O.

Do also consider setting up non-bait food sources and even salt licks. Yes, deer love peanut butter, but they also enjoy munching down on corn, which they’ll find naturally in the wild. Try setting up a simple deer feeder filled with pure corn – you may start to notice a few new visitors arriving. Salt or mineral licks, too, dispersed widely, can help to encourage deer visitation.


All deer look for in the wild is somewhere safe and replete with natural snacks. They spend much of their lives fleeing from perceived predators, meaning the least you can do is provide them with a secure, safe environment in which they can reliably come back to without interruption.

Bait can be effective at attracting deer, however, remember that many US states ban deer baiting outright. Therefore, consider the non-bait approach to be your first port of call when welcoming deer to your yard.

Always remember, deer are very quick to assume you are a threat – be sure to give them plenty of space, and when you do come to watch them, do so from afar if you can. Provided you offer deer space, shelter, water, and food they love at the edge of your yard, you are already on the way to regular visits without needing to bait!

About The Author
Robert has been an avid birdwatcher pretty much his entire life. Living in the suburbs he does his best to bring wild birds into his backyard. He currently has 13+ bird feeders in his yard and also raises and races homing pigeons. Robert writes part-time for Wild Yards, mostly about the subject he cares most about - birds.

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