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Ask a Conservation Officer: Rules for when one hunter can use bait, and the other cannot

Q: My friend and I deer hunt on the same property. He is a Native American and I am not. He can legally hunt over a bait pile whereas I can't. How far away from his stand is it legal for me to hunt?

A: Minnesota's law restricting the use of bait for deer hunting says that a person "may not take deer with the aid or use of bait." A definitive distance is not established by law because the influence on a deer's movement will vary in different settings.

In this situation, you must ensure that you are set up in a manner and location in which a deer you may take is not influenced by the bait placed by your hunting partner. Though you may be a long distance away, if you are set up on a trail leading to the baited area, you could be considered to be hunting with the aid of that bait.

At the same time, if there is an impassable ridge or water feature between you and your partner, you may end up rather close to him but hunting in a manner in which you are not benefiting from the use of that bait.

If you have site-specific concerns, contact your local conservation officer with more details on the specific setting and they will help you stay in compliance with the law

Matthew S. Miller is a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer with the Lake Superior Marine Unit. Send your questions to outdoors@duluthnews.com.

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