Saturday, February 4th, 2023
Saturday, February 4th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Even with tighter rule, baiting still a problem

By Joe Albert Staff Writer

St. Paul — Deer hunters who recently set out bait could be in
for a surprise when they’re sitting in their stand opening

Deer may come, no doubt, but so too may a conservation

“We’re probably going to have a couple of angry guys come
Saturday morning,” said CO Randy Hanzal of Brookston.

Hanzal and other officers, judging by their reports this week,
are encountering plenty of illegal baiting as hunters prepare for
Saturday’s firearms deer opener. They’re finding it in their
day-to-day patrols, as well as receiving calls from neighbors and
friends of those who plan to set a bait pile.

Baiting – illegal in the state since 1991 – seems to be almost
epidemic, according to Maj. Al Heidebrink, operations manager for
the DNR Division of Enforcement.

“We don’t have any specific project going on (in regards to
baiting),” he said. “It’s just that this particular issue is
definitely on the radar. Officers are getting a lot of complaints.
There seems to be an awful lot of activity.”

A new deer-baiting rule, meant to tighten existing law, went
into effect in the state last December. The rule, according to the

  • Maintains the baiting prohibition and states that a person may
    not hunt deer with the aid or use of bait;
  • Clarifies that it is unlawful to hunt where the person knows or
    should have known there is bait.
  • Clarifies that it is unlawful to hunt where the person has
    placed bait or caused bait to be placed within the previous 10
  • Prohibits the transportation and placement of food items that
    are capable of attracting or enticing deer (vs. for the purpose of
    attracting deer).

Tightening the rules should make the law more enforceable,
Heidebrink said.

“Some people we encountered in past years basically were playing
games, ‘(saying) we’re not feeding deer, we’re feeding pheasants,’
” he said. “It won’t be as easy to play games with it.”

Neither Hanzal nor CO Randy Mlynar of Aitkin believes baiting is
declining. Corn is the traditional bait of choice, but pumpkins,
hay, barley, and sunflower seeds also are popular. Hunters in
recent years seem to have moved to bait that’s harder for officers
to detect.

“The ones I have been running into, it seems like most guys are
aware they can’t bait and they are trying to be more sneaky about
it now,” Hanzal said.

Hanzal and Mlynar, along with other officers, have documented
bait sites with photos and GPS in days leading up to the

Mlynar has received four calls about baiting, and has documented
each site. He plans to check the stands near each bait pile on
Saturday morning. Since Mlynar found the bait within 10 days of the
season, a hunter in the stand would be illegally hunting over bait
– whether or not it’s still there.

“I can document today there is bait in a location and it should
be a good case come Saturday, even if there is (no bait present),”
he said.

Mlynar said baiting bothers him as an officer and a hunter.

“We’re basically at record numbers of deer in Minnesota…,” he
said. “It seems ridiculous to me that people feel they have to feed
deer to get them close enough to shoot them.”

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